Mumbai: Terming as "shocking" the delay in the arrest of two staff members of a school for allegedly raping a three-year-old girl despite prima facie evidence, the Bombay High Court today ordered two top officers of Mumbai police to supervise the probe and file an action taken report.
The court also expressed displeasure over the probe conducted so far and asked the police why it was reluctant to arrest the accused despite prima facie evidence that the offence of rape and sexual abuse had been committed.
A bench of Justices Ranjit More and Shalini Phansalkar-Joshi said the failure to arrest the accused, six months after the complaint was lodged, made it apparent that the police was trying to "shield" them.
It directed the assistant commissioner of police under whose charge is the Meghwadi police station, which is probing the incident, to head the investigation, and the deputy commissioner of police of the zone concerned to supervise the probe and file an action taken report.
The bench said it was surprised that the police was treating a matter as sensitive as the case of a child's sexual abuse, "without much seriousness".
"This is shocking. Despite the incident having occurred in January this year and a formal police complaint registered by the victim's mother in May this year, the police is yet complete the probe and arrest the accused," the bench said.
"Do you realise how serious this case is? It is clear prima facie that you (police) are trying to shield the accused. We are very surprised at the conduct of the police in this case," the bench said.
The observations came while the bench was hearing a petition filed by the victim's mother alleging that the police was going easy on the accused, and seeking that the probe be transferred to an "independent" agency.
As per the plea, the victim was allegedly abused by the trustee of her school and one of her female teachers on several occasions between November 2016 and January 2017.
However, the incident came to light only in May this year when the victim's mother noticed behavioural changes in the child.
After much prodding, the child identified the accused from their photographs on the school website.
After the complaint was lodged, the police recorded the statements of the accused, who denied all charges against them.
The police also conducted polygraph or lie detector tests on the accused persons. It did not arrest the accused, insisting they had cleared the test.