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HomeNews Reports'Conscience of the court shaken': Gauhati HC suo moto cancels bail of hostel warden...

‘Conscience of the court shaken’: Gauhati HC suo moto cancels bail of hostel warden accused of sexually assaulting 21 minor kids, read details

Police chargesheet reflected that the accused Warden forced the children staying as boarders in the Hostel to watch pornographic movies and repeatedly subjected them to sexual assault

On Friday, July 21, the Gauhati High Court has taken up a suo moto case of sexual abuse of 21 students by the warden of a residential school in Arunachal Pradesh and cancelled the bail application granted to the accused by a trial court earlier in February this year.

While cancelling the bail granted to the accused by a Special POCSO Court, the single-judge bench of Justice Sanjeev Mehta slammed the trial court and asserted the need to sensitize judges handling POCSO cases.

Yumken Bagra, a warden of a residential school in Karo village in Arunachal Pradesh’s Shi-Yomi district had raped and molested 21 children, aged between 5 to 12 years in the hostels of the school. The accused continued to commit the heinous crime between 2019 and 2022.

Special POCSO Court in Yupia in the Papum Pare district in the state of Arunachal Pradesh granted bail to the warden on February 02, 2023. The decision caused a lot of outrage amongst parents and the villagers, compelling the Gauhati High Court to take up a suo moto case on July 20.

On the basis of news articles regarding the granting of bail to the accused Yumken Bagra, which were published in two newspapers, “Purvanchal Prahari” and “The Arunachal Times,” the court suo moto cancelled the bail application of the accused.

While rejecting the bail of the accused Chief Justice Sandeep Mehta observed, “The conscience of the Court has been shaken by the way in which a case of such grave magnitude and sensitive nature has been dealt with in an absolutely cavalier fashion by granting bail to the main accused without assigning any plausible reasons. The larger issue which bothers the mind of the Court is regarding the safety of the victims of the ghastly act of sexual assault after the release of the accused on bail.”

Slamming the trial court for its decision to allow the accused to be out on bail, Chief Justice Mehta stated that the majority of the victims’ medical records support their assertions of having been assaulted sexually due to visible signs of abuse in their private areas, yet the Special Judge in the POCSO Act Cases in Yupia, Arunachal Pradesh, granted the accused bail.

The court added that it felt that there is an emergent need of sensitizing the Special Judges posted in the POCSO Courts across the States of Arunachal Pradesh, Nagaland, Mizoram and Assam.

Notably, before the Special Court, the Special Public Prosecutor (SPP), Arunachal Pradesh, had also objected to the prayer for the grant of bail stating that this was a third successive bail application on the same ground.

Taking note of this, the HC remarked, “However, the Special Court, without giving due consideration to these substantial objections of the learned Special Public Prosecutor, Arunachal Pradesh, granted bail to the accused in an absolutely casual manner despite observing that the statements of the victims reveal a grave offence having been committed but the trial was yet to begin due to non-appearance of the co-accused Daniel Pertin.”

“Absolutely flimsy reasons were assigned by the Special Court for granting bail to the accused who being the Hostel Warden, was entrusted the duty of ensuring the safety of the children lodged in the Hostel acted in a demonic manner and sexually assaulted the young children over a period of almost 3(three) years and also exposed them to pornographic material. The trial of an accused charge-sheeted for such serious offences need not wait for the apprehension of the absconding accused and proceedings can even be continued by separating the trials,” the HC added, while directing to issue a notice of the bail cancellation proceedings to the accused.

Warden forced the children to watch pornographic movies and repeatedly subjected them to sexual assault

Notably, the case came to light when the SIT, formed to probe the horrific incident, shared details of the case at a press conference held on Wednesday, July 19.

Special Investigation Team (SIT) SP Rohit Rajbir Singh told reporters that the accused has been charged with aggravated penetrated assault/molestation and booked under several sections of the Protection of Children from Sexual Offences (POCSO) Act, as well as Sections 6, 8, 10, 12, and 376 A, B, and C of the Indian Penal Code (IPC).

He added that the police investigation which was headed by Dy. SP (SIT) Moyir Basar Kamdak has reported that there were six cases of rape, nine cases of molestation and six cases of sexual harassment.

Notably, the police chargesheet reflected that the accused Warden forced the children staying as boarders in the Hostel to watch pornographic movies and repeatedly subjected them to sexual assault.

The police further informed that the probe was started based on an FIR filed last year in November by the father of two daughters stating that his daughters were sexually assaulted by the warden. Subsequently, the Monigong police registered the case, which they then transferred to the SIT of the vigilance department.

Investigation revealed that the warden began performing these abominable activities in 2014, the year he started working at the school.

“During interrogation of the children, it came to light that pornographic movies were shown and sexual objects such as condoms were found,” Singh informed.

Additionally, the police discovered and seized medications that contained antihistamines. “These medicines were usually fed to the victims before the commission of the crime. The major side-effect of anti-histamine drug is drowsiness besides other side effects,” Singh said adding that the accused had threatened to kill the students if they disclosed what had been happening with them to anyone.

SIT SP also added that the police learnt during the investigation that out of the 21 victims, six had even attempted to kill themselves.

One O. Pertin was also been booked, according to the SP, for harbouring the accused.

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