Rathankumar Rajaram Kamath, Chief Judicial Magistrate and Chairman of the District Juvenile Justice Board, has ordered the constitution of a medical board to treat a 13-year-old girl boarder who suffered debilitating injuries inside the precincts of a convent near the city on June 6, 2009.
In his order issued recently, Mr. Kamath said a “lot of suspicion and controversy” surrounded the incident. The convent authorities had stated that the girl suffered the injuries from a fall inside the convent's bathroom. He said there was “doubt and suspicion” about how a minor could have sustained such “serious bodily injuries” from a simple fall.
A once robust girl has been reduced to “a tiny bag of human skin stuffed with broken bones, a toothless mouth often gaping and gasping for breath.” (The board had earlier ordered the girl's parents to produce her before it).
The magistrate observed that the girl was writhing in discomfort and pain. The injuries, whether sustained or inflicted, had rendered her an imbecile, incapable of taking care of herself. She had been unable to speak coherently and destined to live a vegetative life. It was a “mystery” how a simple fall could have reduced the minor to such a “pathetic state.” The police seemed to have accepted the story (of the convent authorities and the minor's parents) and refused to investigate further, he said.
Earlier, the District Probation Officer had filed a report which “reflected ill” on the police investigation into the incident. He had raised questions regarding the nature of the institution, its facilities and whether it had any legal sanction to house and administer scores of minors. He requested the Orphanage Control Board to investigate the institute's functioning.
The board felt that the minor needed to be nursed back to minimum health to enable her to explain intelligibly how she got injured. The girl's parents and other witnesses were “fighting shy or rather refusing” to speak about the incident, the truth of which might not be “too far to seek.”
The Superintendent of the Government Medical College Hospital should ensure that senior physicians treated the girl.
The board hoped that the girl would be restored to a minimum health and she would be able to tell if any “cruel or inhuman tormentors” had injured her. He asked the probation officer to ensure that the girl was produced for treatment, if required with police assistance.
Philomina Cedrie and T. Chandravathi Amma, board members, were present.