Maha Court Sentences School Bus Driver To 7 Yrs Of Rigorous Imprisonment For Sexually Harassing Minor Girl

Criminal Laws

A court in Maharashtra’s Thane district on Saturday has sentenced a driver of a school bus to 7 years of rigorous imprisonment for allegedly sexually harassing a girl, who was less than 4 years of age when the incident occurred in 2019.

In its order passed on February 28, the court also convicted a woman attendant of the school bus and sentenced her to the jail term that she has already undergone.

The deposition by the minor victim nailed the accused and helped the prosecution to prove its case.

The girl was a nursery student in a convent school located in the Mira Road locality and the incident occurred when she was returning home after attending the school.

Special court judge DS Deshmukh, hearing cases pertaining to the POCSO Act, convicted the driver-cum-cleaner Denis Thomas Lewis and woman attendant Jenevia Anil Mathais, and pronounced the quantum of sentence.

Also, the court imposed a fine of Rs.5,000 on each of the convicts.

Special public prosecutor Vivek G Kadu told the court that the child, who was 3 years and 8 months old then, used to travel to school by bus.

Previously on December 13, 2019, when she returned home from school, her mother noticed that something was amiss with her daughter. When she asked her, the girl stated that the driver sexually abused her. He said that her parents immediately rushed to the school and lodged a complaint, following which the police registered a case under IPC 354A (sexual harassment) and the POCSO Act.

The prosecution told the court that the woman attendant didn’t report the incident to the school management despite knowledge about it.

In the order, the judge stated that the driver committed a heinous offence with the minor victim.

The court stated, “It was his duty to take care of the school-going children with utmost love and affection. Instead, he subjected the minor girl to aggravated sexual assault, and it was the duty of the bus attendant to inform the incident to her superior which she did not perform.”

It stated that instead of showing fatherly love, affection and protection to the child travelling by the school bus, the accused sexually harassed her and the woman failed to perform her duty as an attendant.

The driver submitted to the court that he is now 67 years old and has been in jail for the last more than 4 years. He stated that he is suffering from Parkinson’s disease, while the attendant submitted that she has small children and there is nobody to look after them.

The judge noted while pronouncing the quantum of sentence, “Considering the submissions of the accused, his age and disease, and considering the behaviour of the accused attendant during the trial and her family background, I take a lenient view and the following punishment would meet the ends of justice.”

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