Karnataka High Court: M Nagaprasanna J. denied relief to a teacher (‘petitioner’) seeking quashing of the proceedings registered alleging offences punishable under Sections 323, 342, 109 of the Penal Code, 1860 (‘IPC’) and Sections 11 and 12 of Protection of Children from Sexual Offences Act, 2012 (‘POCSO’). The Court, on perusing the complaint and statement under Section 164, Criminal Procedure Code held that the matter demands proper trial as prima facie ingredients of offences alleged are met.
The complaint was filed by a mother of the victim child alleging that the petitioner- teacher had indulged in beating the child, who was 5 years old, intermittently locking her in a dark room and letting her out after 2 minutes, traumatizing the child and removing the pants of the child along with other children, which would reveal the body of the child, all these as a measure of punishment.
Relevant parts of the complaint are as under:
It all started with physical punishment for my daughter who is studying in Nursery, East Wood High School, Ulsoor. Each morning started with her crying & requesting me not to send her school. At first I ignored her as I thought maybe she needs time to adjust in her new school. But later when I ask her the reason of her daily crying, she told that her class teacher used to beat her regularly. So I requested her class teacher not to beat her. But after giving here three more chances to stop beating, she continues to beat my child as well the other children. Then I decided to complain to Principal & her initial statement was “No we don’t beat any kids here as beating is ban in school” but her last sentence was “A teacher doesn’t have any other way to instill discipline other than beating”.
Instead of beating, they came up with new way of punishment. Pulling down the pants of kids forcefully & making the rest of the class taunting “shame-shame puppy shame” and the next part is threatening them that they will be taken to one dark room where one dog is kept & it will attack their private parts.
The Court noted that the statement recorded by the child under Section 164, Criminal Procedure Code narrates horrendous acts of the petitioner upon the child and if the complaint and the statement is read in tandem, it would demonstrate that the ingredients of offences punishable under Sections 323, 342, 109 Penal Code, 1860 are clearly met, insofar as the offences relating to sexual harassment on the child, as what is invoked in Sections 11 and 12 of the POCSO Act, 2012.
The Court further noted that Section 11(2) POCSO Act mandates that, a person who makes the child exhibit his body or any part of his or her body so as it is seen by any other person, it would amount to sexual harassment under Section 11 POCSO Act and become punishable under Section 12 of the POCSO Act.
Thus, the Court remarked “The allegation is that, the petitioner has removed the pants of the child before other students and staff, which has led to the offence so alleged. It is for the petitioner to come out clean of the acts that are narrated in the complaint.”
The Court observed that traumatizing children by teachers as a measure of punishment particularly at tender ages, would have a devastating psychological impact on the child. Children who experience aggressive behavior or violence from the hands of a teacher often develop emotional and behavioral problems; their cognitive skills diminish and would have far reaching consequences in the psychological blend of a child and would negatively impact the academic performance of the child. The aggression of whatever means of any teacher on the child is unpardonable.
Thus, the Court denied relief to the petitioner-teacher holding that the act of the petitioner upon the child has become an offence punishable under Section 12 of POCSO Act, 2012 for the ingredients of Section 11(2) POCSO Act and such act unless otherwise proven by the petitioner in a full blown trial, is undoubtedly uncouth, unpardonable and unbecoming for a teacher who deals with a girl child of the age of 5 years.
[Thahseen Begum v State of Karnataka, WP No.12097 of 2022, decided on 28-07-2022]
Advocates before Court
For Petitioner- Advocate Sirajuddin Ahmed
For respondent- Advocate K S Abhijith
*Arunima Bose, Editorial Assistant has reported this brief.