The Karnataka High Court recently denied bail to a teacher accused of sexually harassing and assaulting his minor girl students. [C Manjunath v. State of Karnataka and Anr]
Justice Umesh M Adiga observed that the offences were heinous in nature and that the petitioner, without considering his position and status in society as a teacher, allegedly sexually harassed minor students.
The Court further said that teachers in the country are considered gods but because of the petitioner’s behaviour, parents will be reluctant to send their girl children to school.
“The alleged offence are heinous in nature. Mercilessly, without thinking his status and position in the society, he has sexually harassed students who were studying in IV and V classes. Guru or teacher are considered as God in this Country and respected like a God. However because of alleged behaviour of the petitioner, even the parents think twice about sending of their girl child to the school,” the Court said.
In March this year, a few villagers informed the Block Education Officer (BEO) of Madhugiri about the alleged illegal acts of the petitioner. The BEO along with a Child Development Project Officer (CDPO) visited the school where a few students narrated instances of sexual harassment and assault at the hands of the accused.
Accordingly, the BEO lodged a complaint based on which the police registered a case under sections 8 (punishment for sexual assault) and 12 (punishment for sexual harassment) of the Protection of Children from Sexual Offences (POCSO) Act.
The petitioner sought bail, which was denied by a Fast Track Special Court (FTSC). Thus, he moved the High Court in appeal.
The petitioner contended that he was falsely implicated in the case after he raised concerns about a villager running a petty shop in the school premises. He underlined that no such previous complaints were filed against him.
According to him, to settle scores with him, some villagers tutored their children to give false statements to the police.
On the other hand, the State contended that the case was not fit for grant of bail as heinous crimes were committed against multiple children.
Further, it was highlighted that the survivors were not related to the petty shop owner in any way, and therefore, the petitioner’s story was unreliable.
The Court noted that the survivors had consistently stated that the petitioner used to sexually harass and assault them. These statements, according to the Court, showed prima facie involvement of the petitioner in the alleged offences.
It further noted that there was no reason for the survivors to make false statements against the accused as they had nothing to do with the petty shop owner.
Accordingly, the Court held that the lower court was right in denying bail to the petitioner.
The petitioner was represented by Advocate AN Radha Krishna.
High Court Government Pleader (HCGP) Mahesh Shetty appeared for the State.