In July 2014, the rape of a six-year-old at an affluent school in Whitefield shook Bengaluru. It made the city seethe with anger. It’s been three years now and the trial has not even begun, let alone a conviction, reported the online news website The News Minute (TNM).
On July 2, two gym instructors of the city’s elite Vibgyor High School allegedly raped a six-year-old first-grade student. As details of the horrific crime emerged, the city witnessed massive protests with parents with parents storming into the school demanding answers from the management.
The gym instructors were arrested from the school soon after the incident. The chairman of the school was also booked under section 21 of Protection of Children from Sexual Offences (POCSO) Act for allegedly concealing information and tampering with the evidence.
But it seems, as soon as the protests died down, people forgot about the case. Despite the fact that the law requires special courts to conclude trial in POCSO cases within one year, the prosecution of the case still pending.
According to TNM, the public prosecutor is still in the process of tracking the 30 people it had listed as witnesses and the process is likely to take another two to three months. “Tracking all witnesses down is difficult. Also, the principal of the school initially said that the school had conducted background checks and only then had they employed the gym instructors. She was of the opinion that they had not committed the crime. Later, she switched sides and came forward as a witness,” a source told TNM.
All three accused – the two gym instructors and the school owner – are currently out on bail and police has no clue about their whereabouts, DCP of Whitefield told the website.
According to the website, the bail order does not allow the accused to leave the jurisdiction of the district headquarters until the trial is over. But police did not keep track of the accused once they were released.
Acute shortage of lawyers for POSCO cases in Bengaluru’s special court was cited to be one of the main reasons for the delay. Just three public prosecutors are handling hundreds of POCSO cases currently pending at the Bengaluru Urban, making delivery of justice an impossible proposition.
It is well known how Indian courts are buried under the pile of pending cases. The Bengaluru case shows how thousands of rape survivors struggle for justice in India once the media frenzy dies down.