A government school headmaster in Madurai district was sentenced to 55 years rigorous imprisonment by a special court on Tuesday, September 19, after he was found guilty on multiple counts of sexual abusing girls.

S Arockiasamy, the headmaster, was found to have sexually abused 22 girls. He is also suspected of sexually abusing 91 boys and girls of the school in backward Podhumbu village, reports the Times of India.

He has also been fined Rs 3.4 lakh, which will be distributed among the 22 girls that also includes dalits.

Additional district judge R Shanmugasundaram found Arockyasamy guilty under various sections of the Indian Penal Code, SCST (Prevention of Atrocities) Act and Tamil Nadu Women Harassment Act. Police had filed a case against Arockiasamy against sexual harassment and three other teachers, C Amali Rose, Shanmuga Kumarasamy and Victor, for abetting the crime.

Panju, the mother of one of the victim’s took the issue to the police seven years ago. But unfortunately, she is not alive to see the landmark verdict.

First, the Madras High Court was approached to get the trial shifted out to a special court for cases under SCST Act from the regular Mahila Court in Madurai, since the man had also abused dalit girls.

Even after Justice S Nagamuthu's order transferring the case to the special court, difficulties persisted since the prosecutor was a male. On petitions from AIDWA and Podhumbu villagers, the court then appointed Jaya Indra Patel of Mahila Court as public prosecutor. Thereafter, the court appointed Parimaladevi as public prosecutor, assisted by Nirmala Rani, reported TOI.

"For a special court for cases of atrocities against Scheduled Castes and Scheduled Tribes, giving 50+ years of imprisonment to a convict and making the convict pay fine to his victims is a first in the country," said public prosecutor P Parimaladevi.