Owner-cum-principal of Patna school gets death sentence for raping student

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(Eds: recasts intro, adds detail) Patna, Feb 16 (PTI) The owner-cum-principal of a private school here has been awarded death sentence by a court for raping an 11-year-old student who became pregnant and had to undergo an abortion.

Although the girl survived, special POCSO judge Awadesh Kumar was of the view that the accused, Raj Singhania alias Arvind, was guilty of an offence that was 'most heinous' and 'rarest of rare', and hence deserved no leniency.

The court also slapped him with a fine of Rs one lakh and sentenced for life an accomplice Abhishek Kumar on whom a fine of Rs 50,000 was imposed.

The matter had come to light in September, 2018 when the girl fell sick and was taken to a doctor who said she was pregnant. Upon being queried by her horrified parents, she disclosed that she was being subjected to sexual exploitation at the school, situated in Phulwari Sharif locality.

An FIR was subsequently lodged at the Mahila police station and the girl was made to undergo abortion at a government hospital. Arvind, a teacher, who was also named as an accused, was made to undergo a DNA test and his complicity was confirmed in the report.

'I feel relieved to have got justice on the eve of Saraswati Puja. The perpetrators are a blot on the noble profession of teaching,' said the victim's mother.

In her recorded statement, the girl had said her ordeal started when she was told by Abhishek one day that the principal had called her to his cabin.

The principal asked her to bring out a register from an enclosure inside his chamber, and while she was doing as directed, he forced himself upon her.

The sexual assaults continued with the help of Abhishek, who also shot a video of the act and threatened her that it would be made viral if she disclosed her torment to anybody.

The court also ordered that the girl be provided with a sum of Rs 15 lakh under the Bihar Victim Compensation Scheme and noted that although the stipulated amount to be paid as solatium was little, it will be extended to the victim in view of her young age and the challenges that she may have to face in life.

Her mother submitted before the court that Arvind used to send her threatening messages from behind bars which forced her to leave the city and settle down elsewhere.

The Investigating Officer had also disclosed that attempts were made to destroy evidence by setting fire to the school building but the blaze was doused in time by alert police personnel.

Arvind had also tried to influence the investigation in his favour through some of his relatives who are in the police.

Special public prosecutor Suresh Chandra Prasad, who was commended by the court, said the verdict would have come out much earlier but the COVID-19 pandemic and the ensuing lockdown put things on hold.

'The aggrieved father and mother are poor people with limited means and were under a lot of pressure from the accused to withdraw their complaint. They would often telephone me in distress and I used to convince them that justice was inevitable. Today I feel content,' the lawyer said. PTI CORR NAC SK SK