Court Acquits 18 Physiotherapy Students Accused of Ragging due to lack of evidence
Mumbai: Observing that there was no cogent and clear evidence to fasten the criminal liability of ragging upon 18 Physiotherapy students, a Magistrate's court has recently acquitted the medicos after a long interval of eleven years.
Those 18 physiotherapy students, attached to KEM hospital, were booked for allegedly ragging their 10 juniors and asking them to perform obscene acts. The anti-ragging committee acted immediately and an FIR was also lodged at Bhoiwada police station against the 18 students, who were then booked under the Bombay Prohibition of Ragging Act and Sections of the Penal Code.
However, during the trial two of the three victims who were deposed for the case, turned hostile and denied supporting the previous allegations. Thus, having no strong evidence to support the allegations, Magistrate Pravin P Deshmane acquitted the guilty students.
He observed, "Even though there were 10 victims shown, the victims who have been examined did not support the prosecution case particularly indulgence of the accused or any role attributing to them. Hence, there is no cogent and clinching evidence to substantiate the guilt and indulgence of the accused in the crime."
As per the latest media report by India Today, the issue goes back to 2010 when an act of "unnatural ragging" had allegedly taken place on the first floor of the hostel building. The juniors were allegedly asked by their seniors to enact as if they had constipation, while some of them were asked to perform advertisements for women's innerwear. In fact, some of the boys were allegedly asked to place paper balls under their shirts to depict the women's magazine poses in an obscene way. The juniors were allegedly also threatened with dire consequences in academic pursuit if they failed to obey the orders.
The Times of India adds, the father of one of the alleged victims, an ATS officer had then complained about the alleged incident to the deputy dean of the institute back in 2010. Supporting the complaint, the students in their statements to the college authorities had also given the similar details.
Acting on the complaints, an anti-ragging committee of the college had organized a meeting and had concluded that the misconduct of the 18 senior students would be viewed as ragging. Consequently, an FIR was lodged at the Bhoiwada police station against the seniors.
During the trial of the case, thirteen witnesses including three alleged victims, the then deputy dean, and the investigating officer had testified before the Court. However, two of the three students turned hostile and denied supporting the initial complaint. TOI adds that one of the students told the court that the seniors called them between 5 pm to 6 pm on January 2, 2010 and a casual interview and introduction were taken. The students had "flatly refused about any obscene act or any kind of act amounting to ragging," adds India Today.
The son of the ATS officer, although didn't deny the incident he submitted before the court that he was scared. Recalling to see some students being ragged through obscene acts, the student told the Court that he had then fled out of the hostel room and called his father.
The court, however, referred to the student's statement as random and vague as no names of the victims or perpetrators were given despite his specific knowledge.
"The evidence of this witness is very vague and nothing therein to attribute indulgence of any accused or any specific act amounting to ragging," noted the Court in this context.
Acquitting the 18 students, who were back then 19-20 years old and were from different parts of India, the Court said, "Taking stock of evidence in totality, I am of the opinion that there is no cogent and clear evidence to fasten the criminal liability of ragging, intentional insult by abusing and wrongful restraint on the part of accused to hold them guilty. Prosecution failed to establish the crucial ingredients as well identity of the accused."