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HC drops murder, upholds rape conviction

The home in Panvel where inmates were allegedly tortured and sexually abused; Home founder Ramchandra Karanjule (Below)—Photos: Yogesh Mhatre  

amchandra Karanjule, the head of the Panvel shelter home where girls were allegedly raped and abused, was acquitted of murder charges on Friday by the Bombay High Court but the conviction for rape by the lower court was upheld.

Karanjule was the main accused in the high profile case at Kalyani Mahila Bal Seva Sanstha involving multiple accused including his nephew and others associated with the institution for orphans and specially-abled girls.

In 2013, the sessions court had sentenced him to death after it convicted him of raping some of the girls at the institution and then murdering one of the inmates, as also under sections of the Juvenile Justice Act.

The HC was hearing Karanjule’s appeal against the order along with a slew of other appeals challenging the lower court’s order.

A division bench of Justices R More and Anuja Prabhudessai read out the operative part of the order in open court, and said a detailed order would be available next week.

Of the 10 accused, five were acquitted of all charges. Karanjule’s rape conviction by the lower court was upheld, for which the HC said he would have to serve 10 years. He has already been in jail since his arrest in 2011. He was acquitted of the charge of murdering one of the inmates.

Karanjule, bespectacled and in a white kurta, spoke excitedly in Hindi, Marathi and English after the order was read out. “I’m totally innocent,” he told reporters. “Sex is not my motive.”

Karanjule also said he had been the victim of a targeted campaign to discredit him and his institution.

Despite one of the convictions against him being upheld he insisted on his innocence, saying he was willing to take a narco test, while also speaking of the hardships he and his family have faced. He said he had studied in prison and taken several exams.

“We will go through the judgement and then decide whether to appeal further,” said Mahesh Vaswani, Karanjule’s lawyer.

His daughter, who was acquitted in the same matter by the lower court, was also present in court when the verdict was read out.

Ramchandra’s nephew, Nanabhau Karanjale’s conviction under IPC section 354 (outraging the modesty of a woman) was upheld, along with the rape conviction of Deepak Kasbe, a Panvel resident.

Employees Parvati Mawle, the caretaker and Sonali Badade’s convictions under section 324 (voluntarily causing hurt) were also upheld. The remaining accused were let off.

“There was not an iota of evidence against my client, and the state’s appeals were dismissed,” said Apeksha Vora, lawyer for Narendra Mehta, one of the accused acquitted in the lower court.

The lawyers for the various accused appeared relieved on Friday when the judges went through the order.

The abuse at the orphanage came to light in 2011 following inspection of various such homes in the state upon the direction of the Bombay HC.

A report submitted to the court said the girls had been ill-treated, had bruises and burns on their body and that medical tests indicated sexual abuse.

Karanjule’s rape conviction was upheld, for which

he will have to

serve 10 years

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Printable version | Jun 16, 2021 3:08:37 AM |

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