Apex court stops two acquitted Briton pedophiles from leaving India

August 1st, 2008 - 3:55 pm ICT by IANS  

New Delhi, Aug 1 (IANS) The Supreme Court Friday stopped two alleged British pedophiles from leaving India, barely a week after Bombay High Court acquitted them of charges of sexually abusing destitute boys in a Mumbai orphanage run by them. A bench of Chief Justice K.G. Balakrishnan scrapped Duncan Grant and Allan Waters’ chances of leaving India by ordering Mumbai Police not to release their passport without its permission.

The bench, which also included Justice C.K. Thakkar and Justice P. Sathasivam, stopped them from leaving the country on a plea by child rights group, Childline, challenging their acquittal along with that of William D’souza, the Indian accomplice and manager of their orphanage, Anchorage, by the Bombay High Court July 23 for lack of evidence.

On the plea by Childline, the apex court also issued notices to them seeking their response as to why they should not be arrested pending disposal of the appeal by the child rights body.

The bench also asked Childline’s counsel Fali Nariman to apprise the British High Commission in New Delhi and consulate in Mumbai of the apex court’s Friday order to eliminate the chances of the missions issuing duplicate passports to their citizens.

The Bombay High Court had July 23 acquitted the Britons along with their alleged Indian accomplice D’souza of charges of sodomising orphaned teenagers staying at Anchorage in Mumbai.

The high court had in the process reversed a trial court judgement, which had in 2006 jailed them for six years besides imposing a fine of 20,000 pounds on the two Britons.

Grant and Waters, both former British Royal Navy personnel-turned charity workers, had been convicted by the sessions court under Sections 377 (unnatural sex) and 373 (buying minor for purposes of prostitution) of the Indian Penal Code.

But the high court had acquitted them due to lack of evidence.

The Anchorage Shelter Home in Colaba in south Mumbai was set up by Grant for poor street children of the area. Two other homes were also set up in Cuffe Parade in south Mumbai and Murud in neighbouring Raigad. The two had been accused of allowing many foreign nationals to visit the shelters and allowing rampant sexual exploitation of the children.

Police had booked Grant, Waters and D’souza in 2000 on the complaint of a 15-year-old boy, who had said the trio had been repeatedly sodomising him and four other boys of the orphanage.

Subsequently in 2001, police filed its charge-sheet indicting the two men for sexually abusing boys at the shelter.

Grant belongs to Hampstead in north London, while Waters, 60, belongs to Porchester, Hampshire. Waters was arrested at New York’s JFK airport in 2003 on an Interpol warrant and extradited to India.

The home’s manager, D’souza, was sentenced to three years in jail in 2006 and fined 64 pounds after the court heard allegations that he beat boys in the shelter to prevent them from complaining to other social workers or the police.

On July 24, Childline had challenged their acquittal before the Bombay High Court itself, but the high court had dismissed the petition.

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