Madras HC judges n kirubakatan j velumani jrefuses to suspend life sentence of a teacher, says he behaved like a monster
Mohamed Imranullah S.
CHENNAI 03 SEPTEMBER 2020 00:15 IST
UPDATED: 03 SEPTEMBER 2020 02:49 IST
He was convicted for aggravated sexual assault of a 12-year-old girl student
“The petitioner, a teacher, has behaved like a monster,” the Madras High Court observed, refusing to suspend the life sentence imposed on the 38-year-old mathematics teacher convicted for having subjected a 12-year-old girl student to aggravated sexual assault after taking her to Tirupati and Hogenekkal in June 2016.
Justices N. Kirubakaran and V.M. Velumani agreed with Additional Public Prosecutor M. Prabhavathi that the convict S. Rajiv Gandhi of Panruti taluk in Cuddalore district did not deserve any mercy. They also rejected the convict’s claim that the act was consensual and hence it could not be termed as aggravated sexual assault.
“This court is unable to understand how a minor girl’s consent can be taken as consent… A teacher who is supposed to mould a student by his teaching has done an act which is prohibited under law. It is going to last long and pain the victim throughout her life,” the Bench said while dismissing a petition for suspension of sentence.
However, when advocate R. Sankarasubbu contended that the convict had a right to speedy trial, the judges directed the High Court Registry to list the convict’s appeal for final hearing on September 14. The appeal was preferred against a verdict delivered by Cuddalore mahila court judge D. Lingeswaran on November 14, 2018.
“Today, 14th November is celebrated as Children’s Day. A teacher who should protect a student in the school, a teacher who should be a mentor for the student has betrayed the faith of her parents and also that of society,” the judge said before sentencing the convict to a life term, besides imposing a fine of ₹1 lakh with a default sentence of two more years.
He pointed out that the victim was exactly 12 years and 8 months old when she was exploited by the convict. She had just then completed Class VIII and got promoted to Class IX. The convict, in turn, had got married to a woman five months before he took the student to Tirupati and tied a thali just to hoodwink hotel staff.
The child was exploited between June 6 and June 13, 2016, and was sent back to her parents after the teacher came to know of a police complaint lodged by them suspecting him to have kidnapped her. The convict, however, remained absconding for about three months and surrendered to the police only on September 14, 2016, after making attempts to obtain anticipatory bail.
Though his wife deposed before the court that her husband was with her between June 6 and 13, 2016, the trial court rejected her evidence and held that the evidence adduced by the victim, despite being subjected to cross examination, was “clear, cogent, consistent, believable and definitely inspires the confidence of the court.”
The court said the child’s deposition corroborated with medical evidence and materials, such as a register maintained by a lodge in Hogenekkal, and the failure of the convict as well as the victim to attend school during the days in question. It convicted the appellant under the Protection of Children from Sexual Offences (POCSO) Act of 2012.