MP HC Acquits Man Accused Under POCSO On Ground That Prosecution Was Unable To Prove Age Beyond Reasonable Doubt
A Madhya Pradesh High Court Bench of Justice Rohit Arya and Justice Satyendra Kumar Singh has acquitted a person convicted under the POSCO Act, on the ground that the prosecution had been able to prove this fact beyond reasonable doubt that the age of the prosecutrix was below 18 years at the time of the incident.
Counsel Sohit Mishra appeared for the Appellant, while Public Prosecutor Dr Anjali Gyanani appeared for the Respondent.
In this case, an appeal was preferred against a judgment passed by the Court of Special Judge (POCSO Act), whereby the appellant was convicted for offences punishable under Sections 363, 366, 31(1) of the IPC, and under Sections 3/4 and 5(j)(ii)/6 of the POCSO Act. He was sentenced as per the POSCO Act.
The question placed for consideration before the Court was, "Whether the prosecutrix was below 18 years of age and was a minor at the time of the incident?".
The Court noted that the prosecutrix's father had deposed that his daughter prosecutrix, was born in 1998 and was an adult at the time of the incident. The mother had also made similar statements.
However, the prosecution had produced a school admission register and age certificate issued by the Incharge Principal of the prosecutrix's school, which stated her date of birth as June 5, 2002. However, the Principal admitted that he was not aware of the basis on which the date of birth was written as he was not posted in the said school at the time of admission of the prosecutrix. He admitted that the date of birth of the students is generally written on the basis of information given by their parents.
In light of the same, the Court held that the school admission register entry was admissible in evidence, but its probative value appeared to be very low. The Court relied on the case of Satpal Singh vs State of Haryana to hold that "only on the basis of aforesaid school admission register entry, Ex.P-4, it cannot be said that the prosecutrix was below 18 years of age and was minor at the time of incident".
Therefore, it was observed by the Court that "prosecution has not been able to prove this fact beyond reasonable doubt that the age of the prosecutrix was below 18 years at the time of the incident. Since this fact has already been found established that the prosecutrix herself went with the appellant on her own will and she was living with the appellant as his wife and has been blessed with two sons also, therefore, learned Trial Court has committed error in holding the appellant guilty for the offences".
Hence, the appellant was acquitted of the charges framed against him, and he was directed to be set at liberty.
Cause Title: Jitendra Jatav vs State of Madhya Pradesh