CHILD Protection & Rights > Anchorage Case History
Duncan Grant set up the Anchorage Shelter Home in Mumbai in 1995 that Waters visited frequently. In the Anchorage Shelter Home in Colaba, two Britons Allan Waters and Duncan Grant had sexually abused children for years. In October 2001, CHILDLINE Mumbai received a call from a volunteer of the Anchorage shelter home in Colaba, Mumbai, marking CHILDLINEs association with this case. The Committee in August 2001 visited the Anchorage Shelters and submitted a report to the High Court confirming the strong suspicion of sexual abuse and recommending a police investigation.
A victim whose testimony was crucial to the case revealed that from the age of 14-15, he was made to perform oral sex on the two of them. Another victim too deposed: "Allan used to take my penis in his mouth, on about 30 or 40 different occasions. I was made to do the same on Duncan many a time as well. The first time this happened, I felt very bad."
CHILDLINE had filed the police complaint in 2001, along with the street children about the kinds of atrocities going on in the shelter. As CHILDLINE probed deeper, we unpacked stories of sordid violations from volunteers and the children. This set us off on a tough and long journey of investigation and legal recourse, culminating in a landmark judgement against child sex abuse.
The sexual abuse of the boys at Anchorage Shelters was also brought to the notice of Advocate Ms. Maharukh Adenwalla who works on issues of child rights, and she brought the same to the attention of the Bombay High Court in a matter in which she was amicus curae.
The Bombay High Court passed directions to protect the boys at Anchorage Shelters. Thereafter, CIF lodged a detailed complaint at Cuffe Parade Police Station on 24-10-2001, but the police refused to investigate the said complaint as the matter was subjudice. At the instance of Advocate Ms. Maharukh Adenwalla, the Bombay High Court directed the police to investigate the complaint filed by CIF. Police investigation revealed that two British nationals, Duncan Grant (Accused No. 1) and Alan Waters (Accused No. 2), used to run the Anchorage Shelters, which housed a large number of street children aged between 8-18 years. Willyam D'Souza (Accused No. 3), an Indian, and a former pimp for homosexual tourists, was the Manager of the shelters.
The investigation revealed that Grant and Waters were sexually abusing the children under their care and that a large number of foreign paedophiles were regularly visiting the Shelters and taking the children to Goa where the children were also being sexually abused. The acts of abuse documented by the police investigation are: (a) oral sex forcibly performed on the boys, (b), forced manipulation of the boys' penis, (c) boys made to forcibly manipulate the accused's penis, (d) sadistic beatings of the boys, (e) biting of the boys for perverse pleasure, etc.
The trial was delayed on account of the fact that Grant and Waters had absconded from India after the facts became public. The Government, through Interpol, issued international red corner alerts for the arrest of Grant and Waters. Waters was arrested on his arrival at New York airport, and after a lengthy extradition process and after he exhausted all appellate avenues, he was extradited to India to stand trial. Duncan Grant was found to be hiding in Tanzania where he had started similar shelters for children. He was deported to Britain and forced to return to India to stand trial.
The Sessions Court Case:
In March 2006, a Mumbai sessions court had sentenced Grant and Waters, both former officers of British Navy, to six years in prison on the charge of sodomy and sexually abusing five minor boys in Anchorage Shelter Home they ran in Colaba since 1995. They challenged the conviction in the Bombay High Court, which acquitted them in 2008.
During the trial, three of the five victim boys were bought over by the Accused by offers of large amounts of cash and even a house. However, two of the victim boys showed exemplary courage and integrity by stepping into the witness box, deposing about what they had endured, and facing a grueling cross examination by a top defence lawyer. Their evidence, which emerged unscathed through this ordeal, mirrors their helplessness and innocence. They have spoken in clear terms about the prolonged abuse they suffered at the hands of the Accused, the nature of the sexual acts perpetrated on them, and their desperation and poverty which prevented them from leaving the shelter or filing a complaint. Their evidence was corroborated by other sources, including the evidence Ms. Adenwalla and one of the members of the High-Court appointed Committee on Juvenile Justice, both of whom had personally and independently spoken with the victim boys and verified their claims of sexual abuse.
The Defence came out with the case that at the instance of some people who wanted to take over the Anchorage Shelters Advocate Maharukh Adenwalla and CIF had bribed and tutored the victim boys to falsely implicate Grant and Waters. The trial judge found the Defense case to be untenable and far-fetched; Consequently, the Sessions Court held that it had been proved beyond any doubt that the Accused persons had sexually exploited a large number of street children. Fully aware of how difficult and rare such prosecutions are even though such offences are on the increase, the judgment of the Sessions Court, while convicting them under sections 120 B, 107, 373 and 377 IPC sentenced Grant and Waters to six years imprisonment and a fine of �20,000/- each, stated that a deterrent punishment, was being imposed in order to help wipe 'out the name of India from the map of sex tourism. Let pedophiles all over the world know that India should not be their destination in future.' The said judgement was hailed as a landmark judgement in its field by lawyers, academics and the public.
The Bombay High Court Case:
The British pedophiles had been convicted by the Sessions Court in Mumbai and had appealed in the Mumbai High Court. Allan Waters and Duncan Grant filed an Appeal in the Bombay High Court (Cr Appeal no 476) against the state with Mahrukh Adenwalla as respondent. William D'Souza filed an appeal (no 681) against the state and the State also filed an appeal (603) against all three for enhancement of sentence. The case was argued in the courts of Hon'ble Judges Bilal Nazki and Sharad Bobde JJ.
Mr. Taraq Sayed with Mr. S.V. Kotwal and Mr. S.S. Bhandari for the Appellants in Criminal Appeal No. 476 of 2006
Mr. Vijay Nahar, Special Public Prosecutor, for the State with Ms. Maharukh Adenwalla and Mr. Y. Chaudhary for the Respondents 3 in Criminal Appeal No. 476 of 2006 Mr. D.S. Mhaispurkar, Additional Public Prosecutor, for the State in Criminal Appeals No. 476 and 603 of 2006.
In their judgement delivered on 23rd July, the hon'ble judges stated:
- The testimony of the two boys, Sunil and Kranti , which was the basis for the Trial Court's judgement cannot be considered reliable as their testimonies recorded by the Police subsequent to the FIR was not consistent with what they recorded with Meher Pestonjee, freelance journalist and Maharukh Adenwala prior to the FIR being lodged- the judges agreed with the Defence that this construed as improving the testimony and not corroborative as contended by the Prosecution.
- The testimony of Mahrukh Adenwala was construed as "hearsay" and hence not relevant.
- The acts that the boys testimony reported were ruled to not indicate a definitive crime under Section 377.
- The States appeal for enhancement was dismissed as the testimony of the victims was not reliable.
- The accused were acquitted of all charges.
The reasons given by the Hon'ble Court for acquitting the Accused are extremely flimsy; they are not sustainable and do not withstand scrutiny. The Ld. judges have ignored the settled position of law as to how evidence of child victims of sexual violence is to be appreciated. Instead, they applied a completely unrealistic yardstick in evaluating that evidence. The Judges have not considered that the victims were illiterate street children and cannot be put to the same test as an educated adult.
The Ld. judges have also held that since no complaint was made for a long time, that the FIR was delayed and that the child witnesses did not run away from the shelter though they were free to do so, suggests that that no sexual abuse took place. The Ld. judges have completely ignored the fact that the victims of sexual abuse were vulnerable and defenceless street children who were so desperate to get a roof over their heads that they were prepared to put up with the sexual abuse.
The Ld. judges have also rejected the evidence of the child witnesses on the basis of some minor omissions which are not material and which do not touch the core issue of sexual abuse. Here again, the Ld. Judges have ignored the settled position in law regarding how omissions have to be evaluated and appreciated. If this judgement becomes a precedent for appreciating evidence of victims of child sexual abuse, a large number of perverts and paedophiles will walk free, and it will be almost impossible to obtain convictions against them. Further, if this judgement is not overruled and publicly condemned, the public confidence in the administration of justice will be undermined.
The High Court even refused to stay its judgement for a few days to enable an appeal to the Supreme Court which would prevent the release of the Accused from jail. It should be noted that two out of the three accused persons are British nationals, and that all three accused persons have at different stages done their utmost to abscond and evade the process of law in India . If the Accused are released before the appeal can be filed and heard in the Supreme Court, it will be impossible to bring them back to India for the hearing.
Child sexual abuse in institutions is widespread, and yet prosecutions are notoriously rare and convictions are rarer still. The victims are under the control of the pedophiles; they are vulnerable and embarrassed by what has happened to them; they are scared that if they complain they will lose their shelter and food which they need to survive in the cities; they lack support, and ultimately do not depose in court, either because they are too scared to do so, or because they have been bribed / pressurized by the Accused. Most victims are illiterate, which only compounds the problems of gathering evidence and putting up a strong case. Most of these problems are systemic and endemic to this situation. However, in the few cases where these problems have been overcome, the Courts have let the people down by disbelieving the victims on minor technical grounds. Unless this changes, the most vulnerable category of our people will continue to be exploited and pedophiles will never be brought to justice.
It is expected that upon paperwork being completed by Monday 28th July, 2006, the accused would be set free.
Supreme Court upholds CHILDLINE Case
It took CHILDLINE and its linked partners ten years of struggle and on March 18, 2011, P Sathasivam and Dr Balbir Singh Chauhan, Justices, Supreme Court upheld the appeal by CHILDLINE India Foundation and the Maharashtra Government against the Mumbai High Court Judgement (Cr Appeal no 476).
The Supreme Court rejected arguments of Duncan and Walter's Counsel, Naphde and sentenced them to finish their time in jail. In a thumping, landmark order, the Supreme Court Bench of Justices P Sathasivam and BS Chauhan said, "Children are the greatest gift to humanity. The sexual abuse of children is one of the most heinous crimes."
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 Pedophiles had been convicted by the Sessions Court in Mumbai and had appealed in the Mumbai High Court which had upheld the appeal.
In the Supreme Court (case 1a, Supplementary list, Court 10, Fali Nariman appeared for CHILDLINE India at the admission stage and the case was argued by Advocate KV Vishwanathan. The Maharashtra Government, which had also appealed the High Court judgment was represented by Advocate Arun Padnekar. The Supreme Court rejected arguments of Duncan and Walter's Counsel, Naphde and sent them back to finish their jail terms.
The Supreme Court restored the conviction and sentence of six-year rigorous imprisonment imposed on two British nationals who were acquitted by the Bombay High Court in a pedophilia case. The Bench directed Allan and Duncan to serve the remaining period of sentence. John Waters was in jail for about five years and Grant had served three years and two months. It also confirmed the conviction and sentence of three-year jail awarded by the trial court to another accused, William D' Souza, who had already served the term. For CHILDLINE, the landmark judgement marked the closure of a ten year period of struggle as we collaborated and wrestled in unpredictable turns with the law enforcement agencies of Mumbai to deliver justice to the children of Anchorage.