Vibgyor school chairman arrested for hiding rape, released on bail

M N Reddi addressin the media. Pic: Nikita Malusare

Vibgyor High school chairman Rustum Kerawalla has been arrested on Tuesday evening, July 22, 2014, by the Bangalore city Police in Daman in connection with the rape case, and will be brought to Bangalore. Bangalore Police Commissioner M N Reddi announced this in a press conference held at the Police Commissioner’s office on Infantry Road on Wednesday, July 23, 2014.

Rustum Kerawalla was produced in front of second additional sessions court, Bangalore Rural, and was released on bail, on the condiction that he should present himself in Varthur police station once in two days, and should not try to tamper any evidence.

He has been booked under section 23 of Juvenile Justice Act for cruelty to the child, section 21 of the Prevention Of Children from Sexual Offences act (POCSO) act for not reporting rape to police, and section 201 of IPC for destroying evidence.

This means that Rustum Kerawalla might face imprisonment upto seven years for destroying evidence of rape, if he is convicted. It also means that he will face imprisonment upto six months and/or fine, for wilfully neglecting the child and causing physical / mental harassment, and for not reporting rape to police or Child Welfare Committee.

“We are probing other staff members as part of investigations. We are trying to normalise the situation, and reopen the school on next Monday,” said Reddi. He added that all such cases should immediately be brought into the notice of the police.

When Citizen Matters asked whether there was enough forensic evidence in case of Mustafa, M N Reddi said, “We cannot reveal that.” When asked why is it taking so much time to arrest the second accused, Reddi said it was because it was a heinous crime and needs enough evidence.

Rustum Kerawalla had addressed the parents of students in Vibgyor school, Marathahalli, on July 17th, under police protection.

Rustum Kerawalla had addressed the media and parents on July 17, under police protection. Pic: Nikita Malusare

Failure by school to report rape an offence

A Citizen Matters legal enquiry has found out that section 21 of the POCSO law is something that no one – no school or parents – appears to know about or follow. It also appeared that  the Bengaluru police had failed to take steps against the school in a professional manner thus far though it seemed clear they well-aware of the law. Finally with the arrest of Rustum Kerawala, the police have used the law effectively.

‘Police has access to registry of sexual offenders

In an exclusive chat with Citizen Matters, Bangalore Police Commissioner M N Reddi answered a couple of questions:

What strategy will you use to bring down crime rate in Bangalore?

We have to get back to the basics of policing the movements of anti-social elements bodies and goondas and book them under the relevant section of CR Pc and KP act or the Goonda act. We have to give message to the criminals that the police will not tolerate.

How will you ensure women safety in the city?

We will work with the community at large to bring the necessary amount of awareness to make sure that there is sufficient amount of safety measures that are taken by the institution. We will also try to get down to mapping the vulnerable points for women and girls in the city as soon as possible. We will try to do a city-wide initiative to build preventive mechanisms so that these things won’t take place.

Will you set up a registry where all these sexual offenders’ database can be accessed by everyone?

No, sexual offenders database will not be available to people. But it will be made available to police. We will take care of preventing them from repeating the cases.

Right after the alleged child rape came to light last week, the furious parents posted on social media on how a school could get away with not intimating parents when the girl was found with the injury on school premises by school staff themselves, and why was the police not informed by the school staff or the doctor or both.

If you go by the POCSO act – 2012, one of the stringent laws made against any type of sexual violence against children, the mere act of even not reporting the offence to police after having the knowledge that such an incident took place can be an offence under POCSO, that attracts upto six months’ imprisonment.

Ashok G V, a Bangalore-based lawyer and legal advisor on child rights cases, concurs with the police’s use of the POCSO law, and says that the school cannot shove away the responsibility of the child.

Charges against Vigyor chairman under POSCO act

Section 21(2) of the POSCO law goes into offence comitted by heads of institutions such as the specific case of Vibgyor High School.

Any person, being in-charge of any company or an institution (by whatever name called) fails to report the commission of an offence in respect of a subordinate under his control, shall be punished with imprisonment for a term which may extend to one year and with fine.  21(2)

Bangalore police have arrested Rustum Kerawala under Section 21, in addition to other IPC codes.

POCSO section 19 and 20 refer to rules regarding intimating the police, and punishment for the offence of not intimating.

Any person whether a parent, doctor, school personnel, who has any knowledge, or even apprehension of the fact that a sexual offence has been committed must notify the Special Juvenile Police Unit or the local police.” — 19(1)

Any person, who fails to report an offence or who fails to record such an offence (in this case it is the police unit who are suppose to record the case) shall be punished with imprisonment which may extend to six months or with fine or with both. — 20(1)

The POSCO Act is a special law, which has not specified which offences are cognizable. Therefore to determine which of the POCSO Act offences are cognizable and non-bailable, reliance must be placed exclusively on Part II (Classification Of Offences Against Other Laws), First Schedule of the Code of Criminal Procedure, 1973.

Whenever the punishment is less than three years of imprisonment, the offence would be non-cognizable and bailable. Any higher term of imprisonment beginning from three years and above would make such offence cognizable and non-bailable. Hence all sections are cognizable, with the exception of section 21 and 22 which are non cognizable and bailable offences.

What do other charges mean?

Police have slapped addition charges on Kerawala as part of his arrest, Section 23 of the Juvenile Justice law  and Section 201 of the IPC.

The charge on the juvenile justice law has to do neglect or wilful abandonment of the child likely to cause mental or physical suffering. The charge on IPC 201 is grave and has to do with destruction of evidence.

Section 201 in The Indian Penal Code

201. Causing disappearance of evidence of offence, or giving false information to screen offender — Whoever, knowing or having reason to believe that an offence has been committed, causes any evidence of the commission of that offence to disappear, with the intention of screening the offend­er from legal punishment, or with that intention gives any infor­mation respecting the offence which he knows or believes to be false; if a capital offence.—shall, if the offence which he knows or believes to have been committed is punishable with death, be punished with imprisonment of either description for a term which may extend to seven years, and shall also be liable to fine; if punishable with imprisonment for life.—and if the offence is punishable with 1[imprisonment for life], or with imprisonment which may extend to ten years, shall be punished with imprison­ment of either description for a term which may extend to three years, and shall also be liable to fine; if punishable with less than ten years’ imprisonment.—and if the offence is punishable with imprisonment for any term not extend­ing to ten years, shall be punished with imprisonment of the description provided for the offence, for a term which may extend to one-fourth part of the longest term of the imprisonment pro­vided for the offence, or with fine, or with both.

Example: Suppose A, knowing that B has raped the child, destroys the evidence of rape. If B is sentenced with life or death, A will get imprisonment upto seven years and a fine. If B is sentenced with imprisonment upto 10 years, A would get imprisonment upto three years and the fine. If A is sentenced for any period less than 10 years, B would get one-fourth of that sentence and fine.

Section 23 in The Juvenile Justice (Care and Protection of Children) Act, 2000

23. Punishment for cruelty to juvenile or child.— Whoever, having the actual charge of, or control over, a juvenile or the child, assaults, abandons, exposes or wilfully neglects the juvenile or causes or procures him to be assaulted, abandoned, exposed or neglected in a manner likely to cause such juvenile or the child unnecessary mental or physical suffering shall be punishable with imprisonment for a term which may extend to six months, or fine, or with both.

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About Nikita Malusare 109 Articles
Nikita Malusare is a Staff Journalist at Citizen Matters.

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