20 Mar 2011

Superme court upholds CHILDLINE’s case

In Anchorage shelter home in Mumbai for street children, two Britons Allan Waters and Duncan Grant had sexually abused children for years. One victim whose testimony was crucial said that from the age of 14-15, they made him perform oral sex on them. Another victim too deposed: “Allan used to take my penis in his mouth. He might have done this act with me on 30 to 40 occasions… Duncan did this act with me on many occasions. When this was done for the first time with me, I felt bad.”

CHILDLINE had filed the police complaint in 2001, based on complaints made by street children that they were sexually abused at the shelter. In 2006, Grant and Waters were convicted by a session’s court, but the order was overturned by the Bombay high court in 2008.
On 18 March, 2011 the Supreme Court upheld the appeal by CHILDLINE India Foundation and the Maharashtra Government against the Mumbai High Court Judgement (Cr Appeal no 476) in the Anchorage case. Justices, P Sathasivam and Dr Balbir Singh Chauhan upheld the Sessions court judgment and sent Alan Waters and Duncan Grant back to jail to run their sentences. The British Paedophiles had been convicted by the Sessions Court in Mumbai and had appealed in the Mumbai High Court which had upheld the appeal.
One phone call from a child on 1098, 5 years ago finally resulted in a historic verdict, Additional Sessions judge P. S Paranjpe on Saturday, 18 March 2006, convicted Duncan Grant and Allen Waters, ex-British Royal Navy members to a maximum sentence of 6 years of rigorous imprisonment for offences related to unnatural sex and abuse of children in the Anchorage shelter homes that the two man ran in Mumbai.
The two man have been fined 20,000 pounds each, of which Rs 5 Lakh will go towards the rehabilitation of the two boy who were residents of Anchorage and whose testimony in court was crucial to the case. The court also held William Micheal D'souza (MKanager of the Shelter Home ) guilty for aiding and abetting the crime and assaulting the children. He has been sentenced to 3 years of imprisonment.
In a thumping, landmark order judge Paranjpe said that he intended the verdict to send a clear message to paedophiles all over the world that India is not a destination for them. He hoped that the sentence would go a long way in wiping India off the map of international sex tourism.
For CHILDLINE, the judgement marked the closure of a 5 year period of struggle, as we collaborated and wrestled in unpredictable turns with the low enforcement agencies of Mumbai to deliver justice to the children of Anchorage.
Duncan Grant set up the Anchorage Shelter Home in Colaba in 1955 which Waters visited frequently. Grant lived with a group of 25-30 children (mainly those working on the streets) and overtime he set up two shelters in the Murud and Badwar Park areas. Foreign tourists visited the homes regularly and boys would be sent off with them as city guides. Grant, Waters and their international network of friends gave expensive gifts to the boys.
While rumours were rife among NGO's volunteers visiting the shelters and street children of the area of sexual abuse of boys in the shelter, there was no evidence that could have tipped off an investigation. In October 2001, CHILDLINE received several calls reporting abuse of children from the Anchorage shelter home. In the same month, we along with our partners organisation, attended to critical medical emergencies, including a death, of children living in Anchorage. The events set us off on a tough and long journey of investigation and legal recourse, culminating in a landmark judgement against child sex abuse.
As media reports pour in, we would like to acknowledge the strength and courage of Ms. Meher Pestonjee, write who met the children and assisted in video recording and pursuing the matter, Ms Mahroukh Adenwallah (child rights activist and human the case) and special public prosecutor, Vijay Nahar, In taking the case to resounding, progressive judgement against paedophilia in India.
The order of the sessions court has clearly addressed the points mentioned below :
  • It has vindicated Adenwallah and CHILDLINE of all accusations made by hostile witnesses and the defence counsel. 
  • Judge Paranjpe has specially taken the police to task for 'failing to perform their duty'. 
  • He has also constituted a committee headed by Mahroukh Adenwalla (Ms Kalindi Mazumdar and Renu Gavaskar are the other members) to look into the full rehabilitation of the children of Anchorage, prepare a scheme and present it to the principal judge of the sessions court. 
  • For the childline national partnership, this judgement goes beyond justice delivered to 5 children. It comes at a time of increasing sex tourism and peadophilia in India, as the country consolidates its links into the global organized business of child sex tourism. 
  • The Anchorage case has been a springboard for us to think critically and act substantively towards enforcing child protection norms and standards in all shelter homes for children across India. 
  • It also gives an affirmative nod to our constant endeavours against pedophilia in tourism hot spots like Goa and Puri. Above all it reaffirms our belief that sustained campaigns will have positive impact on society