Bombay HC awards 20 years of imprisonment to school teacher under POCSO Act

According to the prosecution, on December 2nd, 2017, one of the three victims informed her mother about intermittent sexual assaults being committed by the teacher, Gopal Janbandu on her and two other students from her class, during school recess. On January 5th, 2019, an additional sessions judge at Gondia acquitted the teacher of all the charges levelled against him.

The division Nagpur bench of Justices ZA Haq and Amit Borkar, contrary to the trial court’s judgement, found that the evidence and testimony of the survivors inspired confidence and was even corroborated by the evidence of some other witnesses in the case, and reversed the teacher’s acquittal. The court convicted him for rape under Section 376 of the IPC and penetrative and aggravated sexual assault under the POCSO Act, 2012 and sentenced him to 20 years imprisonment.

They also imposed a fine of ₹1.80 lakh on the teacher and directed that the fine amount be recovered as arrears of land revenue from him if he fails to pay the fine amount. The teacher will not get furlough or parole even during the remaining term, if the fine is not recovered, even as arrears of land revenue.

HC also disapproved the trial court’s view that the presumption of guilt under Section 29 of the POCSO Act comes into play only when the prosecution proves its case beyond reasonable doubts. HC said the view was erroneous and the presumption comes into play as the prosecution proves foundational facts. “This finding by the trial court is based on a complete misconception of law on Sections 29 and 30 of the said Act,” said the bench.

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