Mumbai: The Bombay High Court on Sunday granted anticipatory bail to superintendent Ashwini Dighe of state-run Mankhurd shelter home, infamous for alleged ill-treatment of inmates, while observing that prima facie case of rape and trespassing has not been made out against her.
The court has also asked the police to submit its probe report in the case by December 20.
Dighe approached the High Court seeking anticipatory bail after the Govandi police registered a case against her and three other caretakers of the Navjeevan Mahila Vastigruha under sections 376 (rape), 450 (trespassing), 201 (destruction of evidence), 506 (criminal intimidation) and 509 (insulting the modesty of a woman) of the Indian Penal Code.
The FIR was registered based on the report submitted by a two-member expert committee appointed by the High Court while hearing a suo moto (on its own) petition on the poor condition of women lodged at the shelter home following allegations of sexual, physical and verbal assault levelled by one of the inmates.
"The report does not say anything about rape. It only talks about the poor condition of the shelter home. Allegations of bad living conditions, ill treatment and lack of proper treatment to the inmates would not amount to criminal offence. At the most it can be said that the authority is not doing its job," Justice A M Thipsay said.
The court also perused the statement of the victim recorded by the committee and said, "Even the victim in her statement has not talked about rape."
Additional public prosecutor Y S Shinde informed the court that the victim, who is pregnant, has escaped from the shelter home and that the police is trying to trace her so that further statement could be recorded.
Directing the police to continue with the probe and submit a report by December 20, the court today granted interim bail to Dighe on a surety of Rs 25,000.
Dighe, in her bail plea, had claimed that she had taken charge as Superintendent of the shelter home only in September this year after media reported about the poor condition and escape of over 23 inmates.