Bengaluru Struggling With Its POCSO Cases, Trials As Old As Five Years Still Pending
- IWB Post
- January 10, 2019
It was in 2014 that the rape of a six-year-old girl in the Vibgyor school in Bengaluru shook the city. The case led the media into a frenzy and protests were held by people from all walks of life. Fast forward five years and the case remains in court almost exactly where it started despite being booked under the POCSO act (which entails that such cases should be disposed within a year’s time).
In fact, even the trials for the case haven’t begun yet. The case is being heard by the Additional District and Sessions Court in Bengaluru and they have stretched it so much that they have not even filed a charge sheet against the accused.
In 2014, right after the incident, Lalgiri and Wasim Pasha (the gym instructors at the school) were held by the police and charged under Section 376 of the Indian Penal Code (Rape), Section 4 of POCSO (penetrative sexual assault) and Section 6 of POCSO (aggravated penetrative sexual assault). Rustum Keravala, the chairman of the school, was also booked under Section 21 of POCSO where he was accused of hiding information about the incident.
Soon after this, as the protest died down and so did the proceedings of the case. Rustum Keravala even managed to obtain a stay order on the proceedings of the case from the Karnataka High Court three years ago. In a recent interaction with The News Minute, Arun Kumar, the Public Prosecutor who is representing the plaintiff in the case, claimed that hurdles have been created at each and every stage.
“After the stay order was obtained, the accused too got bail. Rustum Keravala had appeared for proceedings and stopped coming once the stay order was brought in. In several instances, the accused did not appear. And by the time, we got the court to agree to hear the proceedings against Lal Giri and Wasim Pasha, it was already 2018,” he said.
On January 2 this year a non-bailable warrant was issued against Lal Giri and Waseem Pasha, a little after the commencement of the court hearings on December 11, 2018. However, Wasim Pasha was not even present at the court for the hearing of the charges.
An anonymous source said, “Tracking all witnesses down is difficult. Also, the principal of the school initially said that the school had conducted background checks and only then had they employed the gym instructors. She was of the opinion that they had not committed the crime. Later, she switched sides and came forward as a witness.”
Arun further shared that the POSCO cases in Bengaluru are not being taken seriously which is quite apparent from the fact that 1200 of them still lie pending, many of which stretch as far as 2014. Out of the 293 POCSO cases that were filed in 2014, 160 are still pending.
“Judges have to hear other criminal cases as well as the POCSO ones. There is barely any time and there is only one public prosecutor to fight cases registered in Bengaluru Rural jurisdiction. The 2014 case where the 6-year-old was raped also falls under Bengaluru Rural Jurisdiction. One person has to handle at least 900 cases at a time. How is this humanly possible?” shared a source.
The source added, “People just lose interest after one point. Witnesses don’t have the time or energy to keep tabs on what is happening to the case.”
H/T: The News Minute