Wednesday, March 29, 2023

Supreme Court imposes cost of Rs 25,000 on Himachal Pradesh for appeal against acquittal in POCSO case after almost 2 years

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The Supreme Court on Monday imposed a cost of Rs 25000 on the state of Himachal Pradesh for filing an appeal after a delay of 650 days against the acquittal of a man convicted and sentenced to 10 years rigorous imprisonment in a POCSO case. 

A bench of Justices Sanjay Kishan Kaul and Hrishikesh Roy reprimanded the Himachal Pradesh government and imposed a fine of Rs 25,000 for showing reluctance in delaying filing petition before the apex court where the case was of serious allegations in nature. The State government of Himachal Pradesh moved apex court after 650 days  challenging the acquittal of Gorkha Ram  passed by High Court of Himachal Pradesh at Shimla.

The Supreme Court ordered this fine amount to be paid to the authorities responsible for the delay in filing the appeal. Apart from this, the Bench also ordered the state government to investigate the matter and fix the responsibility in the appeal. During the hearing of the case, the court told the public prosecutor that there was a delay of six hundred and fifty days in filing the appeal in this case. Justice Sanjay Kishan Kaul asked the counsel of State that “can you tell when the corona 2019 or 20 came?” The counsel for the state government replied that I will not be able to say for sure. 

Justice Kaul asked what is all this? Such negligence of these officers in appeal. You do not know when the corona epidemic came, the delay in appeal for so many days is not being clarified. The issue of gravity cannot be made a ground for appeal. Why not fix the responsibility of the officials for this?

Gorkha, the respondent herein was convicted by Sessions court of Kangra, Dharamshala for the offence punishable under section 5(m) and 5(n) of POCSO Act, 2012 and sentenced to undergo R.I. for 10 years  along with fine of Rs. 20,000/-.

In a nutshell the facts of the case are that Komal Parihar was apprised in the meeting of Mahila Mandal at Bhali by some women of the village present there that the appellant Gorkha had been torturing mentally and physically his minor daughters after the death of his wife. Gorkha allegedly tried to develop physical relations with his elder daughter. A FIR against Gorkha got lodged on 9.07.2016. In the statement under Section 161 Cr.P.C. of the victim recorded by the Investigating Officer, she, however, has completely ruled out the penetrative sexual assault.

The High court was of the view that Investigating Agency has not made any effort to conduct investigation from different angle to rule out the possibility of false implication of accused before filing the report under Section 173 Cr.P.C. in the court. The investigation rather has been conducted in a casual and routine manner to implicate the accused in this case by hook and crook.

Vide order dated 5.12.2018 , the High Court vide order before setting aside Sessions Court order by acquitting Gorkha from all the charges directed State/Police Department as well as Prosecution Department through learned Advocate General, State of Himachal Pradesh to take remedial steps such as imparting training to the Investigators/Prosecutors and all other duty holders. And also observed that trial court carried away without ascertaining the genuiness and authenticity of allegations levelled against him after appreciation of the evidences with great caution and circumspection.

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The High Court after examining the evidences ,exercising its power as an Appellate Court opined that the prosecution has falsely implicated the accused in this case and thereby not only tarnished the reputation of the accused, who happens to be the father of the victim, but also put a question mark on the pious relations between father and a daughter.

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