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Monday, April 22, 2024

Arunachal: HC sets aside ‘grossly illegal’ bail granted to accused in POCSO case

Date:

Gauhati High Court, days after registering the suo moto bail cancellation petition after coming across news reports that the accused hostel warden alleged of sexually assaulting 21 children was granted bail by a special POCSO court, has quashed the “grossly illegal” bail granted to the accused by the trial court on February 23 last.

Accused Yumken Bagra, who was working as a hostel warden in Government Residential School at Karo village, Monigong, Shi-Yomi district in Arunachal Pradesh, is alleged to have sexually assaulted 21 boarders (including 15 girls and six boys), aged 6 to 12 years between the years 2019 to 2022. He was charged under Sections 10/12/14/(1)/15(1)/2 of the Protection of Children from Sexual Offences (POCSO) Act, 2012 for allegedly committing sexual assault upon 21 minor children.

“…The order dated 23.02.2023, passed by the Special Judge, POCSO, Yupia, granting bail to the accused/respondent is hereby quashed and set aside. Consequently, the bail granted to the accused/respondent by the Special Judge, POCSO, in connection with Monigong PS Case No. 02/2022 stands cancelled. The accused/respondent, Yumken Bagra, shall forthwith be taken into custody,” the HC said in its July 31 order.

The accused, however, surrendered before the court of Special Judge (POCSO) at Yupia on Monday, and was taken into custody and remanded to 14-day judicial custody.

“The Presiding Officer acted in an absolutely cavalier fashion and did not even care to issue notice to the complainant although he was impleaded as a party in the bail application…Despite taking note of the arguments of the learned Public Prosecutor that the allegations attributed to the accused were very grave and that there was ample chance of his tampering with the evidence and influencing the witnesses, the learned Special Court proceeded to grant bail to the accused/respondent while totally flouting the mandate of Section 439 (1A) CrPC by passing a cryptic and sketchy order without assigning any valid reason whatsoever for grant of bail.

Hence, the order granting bail to the accused/respondent is absolutely illegal, apart from being based on totally extraneous consideration and, hence, the same cannot be sustained,” the HC observed.

“Before parting with this suo moto criminal petition, this Court would like to further observe that the manner in which the trial Court is proceeding with the trial is absolutely lackadaisical and contrary to the mandate of law. Because, nearly five months have elapsed since filing of the charge-sheet against the accused, but till date the trial Court has made no effort to record the evidence of the witnesses, what to speak of concluding the trial within the time frame prescribed under Section 309 CrPC.

The Special Court, POCSO Act cases, Yupia, is hereby directed to forthwith prepone the dates fixed for recording evidence of the witnesses with due intimation to all concerned. A suitable schedule shall be chalked out for recording of evidence of the witnesses on a day to day basis. Efforts shall be made to conclude the trial as per the mandate of Section 309 CrPC,” the HC said.

Further stating that the mandate issued on July 21 to DGP, Arunachal Pradesh, for providing appropriate security to the victims shall remain in force till the trial of the case is concluded, the HC said, the Special Judge, POCSO Act cases and the Member Secretary of the State Legal Services Authority will ensure that all benefits under the AP Victim Compensation Scheme and any other beneficial schemes being offered by the Central/State Government are forthwith extended to the victims and their families as per their entitlement.

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