The Bombay High Court recently commuted the death sentence of one accused to life and acquitted the other two accused of charges of sexual harassment and torture of children, said a report in The Hindu. The Kalyani Mahila Bal Seva Sanstha orphange case, which saw the Bombay High court uphold three - Ramchandra Karanjule, Nanabhau Karanjule and Khandu Kasbe — of gangraping and molesting five girls including three minors, has now taken a turn against the Child Welfare Committee (CWC). The Bombay High Court has inveighed against the CWC for failing in its duty as a watchdog.
The 120-page judgement released by the Bombay High Court on 11 March states that the CWC has the pivotal duty of protecting children in need of care and ensure no incidents of abuse or exploitation conspires.
The judgement further added “In the present case, facts clearly indicate that the CWC members have not acted in the best interest of the child. The insensitive role of CWC in adopting an ‘I see no wrong and hear no wrong’ stand greatly perturbs our judicial conscience,” reported Asian Age.
According to The Hindu’s report, the HC stated that had the CWC been mindful and honest in its duty as a supervising authority, the truth would have surfaced and the defenseless children would have been spared the sexual assault and consequent physical, emotional and mental trauma. The Hight Court added that the prosecution has proved beyond reasonable doubt that the girls were raped, while upholding the conviction of the three accused.
A division bench of Justices R V More and Anuja Prabhudessai partly allowed the appeal filed by Karanjule challenging the death penalty awarded to him after he was convicted by a sessions court on charges of murder and gangrape and sentenced him to 10 years rigorous imprisonment.
While Karanjule was acquitted of murder charges, the 10 year rigorous imprisonment sentence still holds. Kanajale, said the HC, had portrayed himself as a protector and saviour of the children, providing food, shelter clothing and protection to children neglected by family and society. The bombay HC observed that these girls were dependent on Karanjale completely and had nowhere to go and nobody to complain to; they suppressed their emotions and anger and accepted their fate, said the Asian Age report.
It wasn’t until the court appointed a committee which brought the girls into confidence that they were encouraged to speak of their plight.
The charge of murder was invoked against Karanjule after it came to light that one of the victims was suffering from jaundice and penumonia when she was gangraped. The victim subsequently died. The HC however, mentioned that the prosecution failed to provide solid evidence that the death of the inmate was caused by sexual and physical abuse and also could not avow evidence to prove that Karanjule and his wife ignored the girl’s medical and food needs, with the knowledge that it would lead to her death.
With inputs from PTI