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From claiming that 7-year-old rape victim was ‘sexually active’ to witnesses turning hostile, read how this high-profile lawyer got the accused acquitted

The judgment heavily relied on the defence’s argument that the girl used to have “vivid imaginations”

On August 1, 2012, a 7-year-old girl studying in the second standard in a school located in Whitefield of Bengaluru approached her mother stating that she is suffering from stomach pains and burning sensation around her genitals. When prodded further, it became evident to the mother that her daughter had been subjected to sexual assault by a man in her school.

A terrified mother took her daughter to the school to solicit help from the principal in identifying the aggressor but sensing no help from the principal, she scrambled to the Manipal Hospital and got the tests done on her daughter. The doctors on inspection confirmed that the physical injuries the child had were suggestive of rape.

For more than seven years, the child and her mother frequented courts and did everything they could to seek justice. However, all there hopes were dashed when on September 9, the Bengaluru sessions court acquitted the accused one Madhusudhan – a plumber employed by the school – who was defended by the top criminal lawyer CH Hanumantaraya.

CH Hanumantaraya, an eminent lawyer is the go-to man for many politicians embroiled in legal battles. He has also been a counsel for mining baron Gali Janardhana Reddy in the Ambident Scam case. In addition to this, he fought defending Kampli MLA Ganesh, accused of brutally assaulting Vijayanagara MLA Anand Singh, and also represented former gangster Agni Sridhar.

The defence lawyer Hanumantaraya first alleged that the 7-year-old girl was sexually active. When this argument was objected by the prosecutor, the defence resorted to claiming that the alleged victim had vivid imagination and accusations against his client-Madhusudan were a figment of the child’s fertile imagination.

As the case was registered before the Prevention of Children from Sexual Offences (POCSO) Act was legislated, the judgment heavily relied on the defence’s argument that the girl used to have “vivid imaginations”. The judgment was based on the school principal‘s testimony that the girl was “imaginative”. This is the same principal who, according to the child and the mother, didn’t heed their complaint. The principal cited an incident saying that the girl had complained in 2011 that a classmate had pulled her undergarments, and thus, the complaint of sexual assault made next year, displayed her “imaginative skills” she said.

Defence counsel also cited the attendance register which showed that the accused Madhusudan was not present in the school on July 25, 26, 28 and 29 in 2012. But according to the Thirumalashettyhalli police as quoted by The News Minute, the security guard of the school informed them during their investigation that Madhusudhan would linger around the school even when he was not in attendance.

Another discrepancy that acted in favour of the accused was the absence of the medical report confirming rape. The police who had filed the chargesheet, did not submit the forensic report in the court. The comments made by the doctors at Manipal hospital were included but the second inspection- samples of which were sent to the Forensic lab – was never sent to the court. The Forensic lab in Bengaluru suffers from acute shortage of resources and often takes inordinate time to send its forensic reports.

Assistant Public Prosecutor in the case, BT Venkatesh said that the Forensic Science Lab in Bengaluru had not submitted the medical report to the police. The police maintain that despite multiple letters being written to the FSL, they did not send the forensic report.

The odds were stacked against the child and the mother as key witnesses turned hostile. The four witnesses- two school teachers and two other witnesses who worked at the school, and whose testimonies were vital to the case, turned hostile and refused to attest in the court.

One of the witnesses, the girl’s class teacher had earlier said in her statement that she saw Madhusudan taking the girl inside a washroom and when she came outside, she was crying. BT Venkatesh believes that even principal and teacher should have been mentioned in the charge sheet as accused. “What was the teacher doing watching Madhusudan taking the girl child inside a washroom?” he questioned.

Besides all these, the judgment repeatedly highlights that the girl had answered that she doesn’t remember much for multiple questions asked of her by the defence counsel Hanumantharaya. The mother said that the girl cannot remember so many things in intricate details as the trial went for years and claimed that the question asked of her were twisted and confusing.

The girl’s mother believes that as the accused Madhusudan who does not earn much can not pay the fat fees of a lawyer like Hanumantaraya, the school had hired the lawyer to defend Madhusudan in order to save their reputation from being destroyed.

Despite the current setback, the girl’s mother asserted that she is in for a long haul. She stated that they had been subjected to a lot from calling her child sexually attractive to terming her a liar but she won’t be deterred by such pressure and will resolutely pursue the case and file an appeal against this judgment.

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OpIndia Staffhttps://www.opindia.com
Staff reporter at OpIndia

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