by Asseem Shaikh
The police on Monday filed the chargesheet against 50-year-old teacher Pradeep Balwant Gothaskar, who was arrested last month for allegedly sexually abusing 22 girls in an English-medium school in Aundh.
The police had arrested Gothaskar on February 26 after the school had lodged a complaint against him for having misbehaved with girl students. He was granted bail on Monday, on a surety of Rs 30,000 and the condition that he wouldn’t leave the country without the court’s permission and would report at the Chatushrungi police station if his presence was required for investigations.
The chargesheet was filed before special judge Vinay G Joshi that gave details of the alleged acts committed by Gothaskar, who was arrested under relevant sections of the Protection of Children from Sexual Offences Act (PCSOA). According to the chargesheet, the school had received complaints from students of Classes IV and V on February 5 about alleged sexual abuse by Gothaskar. It had then conducted an internal inquiry to ascertain the allegations. The school had rejected Gothaskar’s resignation on February 7 and terminated his service on the same day as his behaviour was found to be immodest/immoral. It then lodged a police complaint against him.
Gothaskar had joined the school as a consultant in 2011 and taught science, maths and thinking skills to primary and secondary students.
Documents that the school submitted to the police formed part of the chargesheet, which stated that the school had terminated his service for his immoral/immodest behaviour. The chargesheet stated that the school was responsible for its students’ safety and did not feel safe to have Gothaskar on its rolls any more. His services were terminated as his acts amounted to abuse, stated the chargesheet which was filed by woman assistant police inspector S B Bhoite. The police have recorded statements of 38 witnesses including students, doctors and others.
Gothaskar’s lawyer Prasad Kulkarni pleaded for bail as he said the police had completed the investigations and had filed the chargesheet. Additional public prosecutor Vijay Phargade opposed the bail plea arguing that the allegations against him were serious and there was prima facie evidence against him. The judge while granting bail to Gothaskar observed that there were allegations of sexual abuse and not rape, that he did not have criminal antecedents and the chargesheet against him was filed under sections 8 (aggravated sexual assault), 9 (f) (committing sexual assault on a child in an educational institute) and 10 (punishment for aggravated sexual assault) of the PCSOA. The court had rejected his first bail plea on March 2. The judge, however, laid out conditions for the bail and also warned Gothaskar not to tamper with the prosecution’s evidence.
This is the second chargesheet filed in the court under the Protection of Children from Sexual Abuse (PCSOA) Act 2012. The first chargesheet was filed against a security guard for his bid to rape a minor girl in a moving lift in Kondhwa area.
Appoint special public prosecutor
The office of the district government pleader and public prosecutor here recently sent a letter to the state law and judiciary department for appointing a special public prosecutor under the PCSOA. The new law relating to children mandates appointment of a special prosecutor in sexual abuse cases. The special court here has framed charges against a security guard for making a bid to rape a minor girl in a moving lift in Kondhwa area, but the trial could not proceed further as the government has not appointed a special prosecutor.
This article was written by Asseem Shaikh and originally published on indiatimes