The Bombay High Court has acquitted a male teacher who was accused of raping a minor girl in the year 2010. The high court set aside a 2013 conviction of a trial court while stating that conviction cannot be based on “probabilities” but needs to be based on cogent evidence which it found lacking in this case.
According to the prosecution, the biology teacher had joined a high school and used to teach students of classes 11 and 12. The victim was studying in class 3 of the same school, along with her siblings.
On June 22, 2010, the children did not return home till 6.15 pm. The worried parents went to school and were told by the auto-rickshaw driver that the girl could not be traced. After some time, one teacher had dropped the girl near the rickshaw.
Seeing her shattered look, the mother asked the girl about what had happened. The girl told her that when she had gone to the washroom with one of her friends, the drawing teacher had done ‘bad things’ to her.
She also said that another teacher who was present at the scene of the crime had gagged her mouth. The mother also noticed bleeding.
Judges Sadhana Jadhav and NR Borkar of the high court doubted the testimony, when some witnesses told the trial court that the parents hesitated from registering a case and wanted the matter to be settled.
The court after noting medical reports noted,
There is no doubt, the victim was subjected to sexual abuse.
However, the court said that the question for determination was whether the accused is the perpetrator of the offence.
Bombay High Court Observations
The court noted that on the given day of the alleged incident, the accused teacher came to school around 7.50 am and left around 3 pm. No one had seen the teacher in school after that.
Moreover, the girl had pointed to another teacher but it was the parents who had refused to accept that. They claimed to know that teacher well and said that he could not have done it to their daughter.
The high court also said,
The contention of the Prosecutor that since the laboratory is situated on the same floor, in all probabilities, the accused could be the person who had abused the victim cannot be taken into consideration for the simple reason that conviction of the accused cannot rest upon the probabilities.
The court added,
There has to be cogent and convincing evidence which is inconsistent with the innocence of the accused. It would amount to conviction on surmises and conjectures and therefore, the accused is entitled to be acquitted in the present case.
The teacher was 32-years-old when he appealed in 2014. He had been lodged at Kolhapur central prison since his arrest in 2010.
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