Gauhati High Court Acts Swiftly to Revoke Bail of Hostel Warden Accused of Raping 21 Minors

Jul22,2023 #Gauhati High Court #Minor #Rape

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Published on: 22 July 2023 at 14:22 IST

The Gauhati High Court has taken suo motu action to initiate the cancellation of bail granted to a hostel warden accused of sexually assaulting 21 students below the age of 12. The accused, Yumken Bagra, who served as the Hostel Warden at the Government Residential School in Karo Village, Monigong, Shi Yomi district, Arunachal Pradesh, had been released on bail five months ago.

Chief Justice Sandeep Mehta expressed deep dismay at the manner in which the special judge handling the case under the Protection of Children from Sexual Offences Act, 2012 (POCSO Act), casually granted bail to the main accused on February 23. The court was profoundly disturbed by the magnitude and sensitivity of the case and raised concerns about the safety of the victims after the accused’s release on bail.

In response to the distressing situation, Chief Justice Mehta not only initiated the bail cancellation proceedings but also recognized the need to sensitize trial courts, particularly those dealing with POCSO offenses.

Accordingly, he ordered the Director of the Assam Judicial Academy to conduct a training sensitization program for all judicial officers handling POCSO cases in Assam, Nagaland, Mizoram, and Arunachal Pradesh.

The accused is alleged to have committed sexual assaults against 15 girls and 6 boys between 2019 and 2022. The trial in the case had stalled due to a co-accused, Daniel Pertin, remaining at large, but the Chief Justice emphasized that the hostel warden’s trial could have continued separately without waiting for the co-accused to be apprehended.

Moreover, Chief Justice Mehta observed that Bagra was granted bail without giving the informant in the case an opportunity to be heard, which is mandatory as per Section 439(1A) of the Code of Criminal Procedure (CrPC).

The High Court criticized the POCSO court for not taking substantial objections raised by the Special Public Prosecutor into account and granting bail to the accused in a casual manner. The bail order was given despite the special court’s acknowledgment that a grave offense had been committed based on the statements of the victims.

The Court further pointed out that Bagra, as a warden entrusted with the safety of the children in the hostel, had acted in a reprehensible manner, exposing the children to pornographic material before committing the heinous act.

The matter has been scheduled for further hearing on July 27, and the Court has called for responses from the accused and the Arunachal Pradesh government.

Meanwhile, the High Court has taken proactive measures to ensure the security of all minor survivors and their family members under the Witness Protection Scheme. Family members of the victims have been informed about the bail cancellation proceedings to allow them to make submissions if they wish to be heard.

The Gauhati High Court was represented by Senior Advocate TJ Mahanta and Advocate T Gogoi, while the State government of Arunachal Pradesh was represented by Advocate General I Chowdhury and Additional Advocate General NNB Choudhury.

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