Vacation judge Justice Milind Sathaye heard the application by the 22-year-old teacher against whom the FIR was lodged by a Pune police station on September 21 for sexual assault and sexual harassment under the Protection of Children from Sexual Offences (Pocso) Act for the alleged acts committed between June 2020 and September 2022.
The complainant, a senior teacher, said a colleague was informed by a Class 9 student that during a recent trip he overheard six classmates saying that the accused teacher did something wrong to them. The colleague then asked those students to write it all down. They revealed that under the pretext of teaching wrestling, the accused teacher asked them to touch each other inappropriately and did the same to them.
The sessions court rejected the teacher’s pre-arrest bail plea on October 27. “The learned session court, Pune, failed to differentiate between good and bad touch and the learned judge has not given reasoning on that and plainly rejected the application and therefore interference of high court is necessary,” his application stated. He said the FIR was filed by the complainant, a co-worker, due to rivalry with the applicant as he witnessed his rapid rise in the organisation. Besides, there was a delay in lodging the FIR.
The teacher’s advocate, Akshay Deshmukh, argued that the “very nature of the sport of wrestling (kusti) involves training with a particular type of cloth (loin cloth) and the training necessarily involves physical engagement of the students with the teacher in a place called akhada filled with red clay.” Prosecutor Y Y Dabke opposed ad-interim protection considering the nature of allegations in the FIR and the sessions court judge’s observation that there are statements of 10 victim boys.
Justice Sathaye, in the November 13 order, said it is necessary to issue a notice to the complainant before any final order can be passed. He directed that in case of arrest, the teacher be released on a Rs 50,000 personal bond. The teacher has been asked to file an undertaking that he will not try to contact any of the witnesses. He will cooperate with the investigation and not tamper with the evidence. The matter will be heard next on November 29.