Maharashtra: School bus driver gets 7 years imprisonment for sexually harassing girl

In the order, the judge said that the driver committed a heinous offence with the minor victim
This is what the court said | (Pic: EdexLive)
This is what the court said | (Pic: EdexLive)

A school bus driver was sentenced to seven years of rigorous imprisonment by a court in Maharashtra's Thane district for allegedly sexually harassing a under-four-year-old girl. The incident happened in the year 2019, according to a PTI report.

The order, which was passed on February 28, also convicted a woman attendant and sentenced her to the jail term that she had already undergone. She was the attendant of the school bus. 

The court also imposed a fine of Rs 5,000 on each of the convicts.

Minor's deposition
It was the deposition of the minor survivor that helped zero in on the accused and helped prove the case. 

The survivor was a student of nursery at a convent school situated in Mira Road locality and the incident occurred while she was returning home after her school day.

Special court judge D S Deshmukh, hearing cases pertaining to the Protection of Children from Sexual Offences (POCSO) Act, convicted the driver-cum-cleaner Denis Thomas Lewis (67) and woman attendant Jenevia Anil Mathais (36), and pronounced the quantum of sentence.

Special public prosecutor Vivek G Kadu informed the court that the child, who was three years and eight months old then, used to commute by bus. 

The incident 
On December 13, 2019, when she returned home from school, her mother noticed that something was amiss with her daughter. When she asked her, the girl said that the driver sexually abused her.

The child's parents immediately headed to the school to file a complaint, after which, police registered a case under the Indian Penal Code (IPC) 354A (sexual harassment) and the Protection of Children from Sexual Offences Act (POCSO) Act, he said.

The prosecution told the court that the woman attendant did not report the incident to the school management despite being aware of it.

The court said...
In the order, the judge said that the driver committed a heinous offence with the minor victim.

"It was his duty to take care of the school-going children with utmost love and affection. Instead, he subjected the minor girl to aggravated sexual assault, and it was the duty of the bus attendant to inform the incident to her superior which she did not perform," the court said.

Instead of showing fatherly love, affection and protection to the child travelling by the school bus, the accused sexually harassed her and the woman failed to perform her duty as an attendant, it said.

The driver submitted to the court that he is now 67 years old and has been in jail for the last more than four years.

He said he is suffering from Parkinson's disease, while the attendant submitted that she has small children and there is nobody to look after them.

"Considering the submissions of the accused, his age and disease, and considering the behaviour of the accused attendant during the trial and her family background, I take a lenient view and the following punishment would meet the ends of justice," the judge noted, while pronouncing the quantum of sentence.

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