Maha hostel superintendent gets 5 years in jail for molesting Palghar student in 2017
The Palghar court awarded five years of imprisonment to a hostel superintendent for allegedly molesting a minor in 2017. The victim filed a complaint about the incident in 2018.
A special court in Palghar district has convicted a superintendent of a school hostel for allegedly molesting a minor girl in Talasari in 2017. The court sentenced the accused superintendent to five years in prison.
The girl was 16 years old and a student of Class 10 when the incident took place. She used to stay at the school’s hostel. The accused, identified as Suryakant Raghunath Bagal, had been working as a superintendent in the same school since 2007.
According to the Talasari police station, on December 31, 2017, around 6 pm, the accused called the girl while she was studying in her hostel room, saying that there was a phone call from her house. When she went to the office, he told her that the phone was disconnected and asked her to come between 9 and 9.30 pm to make the phone call without telling anybody.
Around 9.30 pm, Bagal again called her saying that there was a phone from her house. When she went to the place where he had called her, he was alone there and closed the door of the room. Bagal then allegedly molested her and later asked not to speak about the incident.
As the girl was scared, she did not tell anyone about the incident. However, on Feb 24, 2018, she disclosed this to a classmate who told her that it had happened to her as well. The two then spoke to their other classmates and eventually, the villagers came to know and they took the accused to the police.
An ACP rank officer was given the task of investigation after the registration of a case under the Protection of Children from Sexual Offences (POCSO) Act and Scheduled Castes and Scheduled Tribes (Prevention of Atrocities) Act as the girl belonged to the Adivasi community.
In court, the accused denied the allegation, stating that he was being implicated at the instance of a local person. He had raised the issue of delay in the registration of a case. The headmaster of the Ashramshala told the court that except for two girls, no other girl made complaints against the accused.
Special judge DH Keluskar noted that the entire case hinged on the testimony of a single witness, the victim.
Talking about the delay in the registration of a case, the judge said, ” The victim was a student of Class 10. The victim could be under his control, therefore, due to fear she might not have disclosed the incident. When she discussed it with one of her classmates, she got courage, therefore delay in lodging a complaint will not be fatal to the case.”
The superintendent also pointed out that the victim had stated that the incident occurred on the second floor of the hostel building while the spot inspection carried out was on the third floor. However, the judge reasoned that the “incident happened at nighttime. It has come on record that rooms on both floors are vacant. Therefore, the possibility cannot be ruled out that, due to nighttime, the victim was not able to identify the floor number.”
Judge Keluskar further reasoned that no concrete material had been brought on record by the accused to show that there is a possibility of false implication. “On the other hand, at the time of the incident, the victim was a student. So there was little possibility of false implication from the girl’s end,” he said.