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POCSO: The hand of justice

In a significant judgment, a trial court invoked the POCSO Act against an accused for holding her hand. The Delhi High Court upheld it.

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The Delhi High Court upheld the judgment of a trial court which convicted a man under Section 363 (kidnapping) of the IPC and Section 8 (punishment for sexual assault) of the Protection of Children from Sexual Offences (POCSO) Act, 2012. The trial court had said that the “accused had taken the victim to another place” and “held her hand” and that it was sufficient to invoke the POCSO Act.

A single judge bench of Justice Subramonium Prasad noted: “Sexual intent can be inferred by the appellant holding the wrist of the prosecutrix while opening the lock.” The accused, Krishna Murti, had filed the appeal and stated that he had been falsely implicated in the FIR filed by the mother of the victim as she had wanted to implicate him because of an earlier quarrel.

The victim was a minor girl who went to Nawada (south-west Delhi) to buy momos and on her way back, Murti, her neighbour, made her sit on his scooty and took her to a house in Matiala, where he told her that he wanted to speak to her. He held her hand tightly while trying to open the lock but the victim fled.

Advocate Maroof Ahmad, appearing for Murti, said: “The child victim has been tutored to make false statements because of the quarrel.” It was also submitted that there were many contradictions, inconsistencies and discrepancies in the statements of the victim, her brother and mother. However, Additional Public Prosecutor Kusum Dhalla said that the testimony of the child and her mother were consistent and reliable, and that no one would tutor a child to file a false case as revenge for a simple quarrel over drying of clothes.

The bench stated: “It is for the accused to come with the statement as to why he took the victim to the house in Matiala when he knew where the victim resides.” It further noted: “It cannot be said that there is a material improvement in the statement of the prosecutrix. In view of the above the foundation fact for an offence under Section 7 of the POCSO Act punishable under Section 8 of the POCSO Act stands established.”

Relying on Section 27 of the POCSO Act, Justice Subramonium stated that it raises a presumption against an accused for committing or attempting to commit an offence under Section 7 (Sexual Assault) of the Act. Section 27 says: “Whoever attempts to commit any offence punishable under this Act or to cause such an offence to be committed, and in such attempt, does any act towards the commission of the offence, shall be punished with imprisonment of any description provided for the offence….”

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The bench, while upholding the trial court judgment, dismissed the appeal and observed: “This Court is also not inclined to accept the story of the appellant that he has been implicated because of enmity.”

—By Gautam Mishra and India Legal News Service

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