Acquittal of two Briton facing pedophilia charge challenged

July 29th, 2008 - 10:05 pm ICT by IANS  

New Delhi, July 29 (IANS) The Supreme Court Tuesday decided to accord an urgent hearing Friday to a plea by a child rights body challenging the acquittal by the Bombay High Court of two Britons and an Indian, who were facing charges of pedophilia. A bench of Chief Justice K.G. Balakrishnan acceded to accord an urgent hearing to the plea after senior counsel Fali S. Nariman, appearing for the Mumbai-based Childline, challenged the high court order and sought its suspension.

The high court July 23 acquitted Britons Duncan Grant and Allan Waters along with their alleged Indian accomplice William D’souza of the charges of sodomising orphan teenagers staying at their orphanage ‘Anchorage’ at Mumbai.

The high court had acquitted them reversing a trial court judgement, which had in 2006 jailed them for six years besides imposing a fine of 20,000 pounds.

Nariman sought suspension of the high court’s ruling telling the bench, which also included Justice R.V. Raveendran and Justice J.M. Panchal, that if it does not suspend the high court ruling immediately, the Britons would leave the country.

At this, the bench observed that it cannot suspend a high court ruling in such a casual manner, when the personal freedom of individuals is at stake.

The bench, however, acceded Nariman’s plea to have an urgent hearing of the matter on Friday.

The high court had acquitted charity worker Grant, former naval officer Waters, and the Indian manager of their orphanage, D’souza, due to lack of evidence.

The Childline on July 24 had challenged their acquittal before the high court itself, but it had dismissed their petition.

The police had booked the three on the complaint of a 15-year-old boy, who had said that the trio had been repeatedly sodomising him and four other boys in the orphanage.

The police subsequently in 2001 charged the men with sodomy and sexually abusing boys at the Anchorage shelter which Grant, a charity worker from Hampstead in north London, had set up in 1995.

Waters, 60, of Porchester, Hampshire, who police claimed was a regular visitor to the shelter home, was arrested at New York’s JFK airport in 2003 on an Interpol warrant and extradited to India.

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