Kerala police drops POCSO Act against BJP leader accused of sexual assault on schoolgirl, court grants bail
Kuniyil Padmarajan, president of BJP’s Thrippangottur local committee near Palathayi in Kannur, was arrested in April. He had allegedly sexually assaulted the girl multiple times in school
After the Kerala police failed to invoke sections of the POCSO Act against local BJP leader Kuniyil Padmarajan in the sexual abuse case of a 10-year-old girl, he was granted bail by a court of Additional Sessions Judge court in Thalassery in Kannur district late on Thursday.
Padmarajan was also the Class 4 girl’s teacher. The girl had stated that the man had sexually assaulted her after calling her to the school on a holiday.
The accused was charged under section 82 of the Juvenile Justice Act. The prosecution submitted that the investigation into the alleged sexual abuse was on, and that the police were examining scientific evidence. Judge M Thushar granted him bail on conditions of two sureties and a bond of Rs 1 lakh. The court also ordered him to surrender his passport. This comes two days after the Crime Branch, which is probing the case, submitted a chargesheet in the court.
Padmarajan, who is the president of BJP’s Thrippangottur local committee near Palathayi in Kannur, was arrested in April. He had allegedly sexually assaulted the girl multiple times in the school and had threatened her to not disclose the abuse.
The 2012 POCSO Act is a law which aims to protect children from the offences of sexual assault, sexual harassment and pornography, while safeguarding the interests of the child at every stage. The minimum punishment for aggravated sexual harassment of a child is five years.
However, section 82 of the Juvenile Justice Act is for corporal punishment. Under this any person in-charge of or employed in a child-care institution who subjects a child to corporal punishment is liable for three months imprisonment or fine or with both.
Though he was arrested by the Kannur police under sections 376 (Punishment for rape) of the Indian Penal Code and Section 5 (Aggravated penetrative sexual assault), and Section 6 (Punishment for aggravated penetrative sexual assault) of the POCSO Act, the Crime Branch, which took over the investigation, submitted a chargesheet in the court without POCSO charges.
Congress MLA VT Balram alleged that the Kerala police was trying to protect the BJP leader. He took to social media to state that though medical examinations showed that the girl was sexually abused, police failed to charge the accused under the sections of POCSO Act. Several other opposition parties also slammed the government.