POCSO Case: Madras HC Reverses Acquittal After 9 Years, Orders Compensation Of ₹10.5 Lakhs To Victim
The Madras High Court in an appeal preferred by the State reversed the acquittal of the accused with regard to the POCSO (Protection of Children from Sexual Offences) case after nine years and ordered a compensation of Rs. 10.5 lakhs to the victim.
The appeal was filed against the judgment passed by the Trial Court by which the respondents were acquitted under the POCSO Act, 2012, and Indian Penal Code.
A Single Bench of Justice D. Bharatha Chakravarthy directed, “… without subjecting to any further enquiry or further trauma, the child has to be paid the compensation amount of Rs.10.5 lakhs. Therefore, I direct the Director, Department of Social Defence, Kellys, Chennai - 600 010 to disburse the said compensation of Rs.10.5 lakhs by crediting the same into the bank account of P.W.1, the mother of the victim child. It is made clear that the said compensation shall be utilised by P.W.1 for the educational purposes, rehabilitation and well-being of the victim child alone.”
The Bench sentenced the first accused to undergo rigorous imprisonment for a period of 10 years for the offence punishable under Section 6 of the POCSO Act and a fine of Rs. 5,000/-.
Government Advocate R. Kishore Kumar appeared on behalf of the appellant/State while Advocates M. Umashankar and A. Veeramarthini appeared on behalf of the respondents/accused.
In the year 2013, the victim aged 8 years came home at 12.30 P.M. after which she changed her uniform and went to her tuition Teacher's place, and came back home. When she was about to come to the ground floor from her portion of the house, at about 1.30 P.M., the first accused who was also residing in an adjacent portion of the same house, barged into the house and choked her mouth.
The accused dragged her inside the house and pushed her onto the cot and bite her left cheek and left breast and lay on her and disturbed her vagina and thereafter smothered her with a pillow and thus, she fainted. After some time, since there was a power cut and it was getting dark, out of fear, she managed to somehow come down and upon seeing a neighbour, she laid in her lap. Immediately the neighbour with the help of others took her to the hospital where she was admitted for treatment while the other accused who were friends of the first accused threatened her.
The following question arose for consideration before the High Court:
1. Whether the prosecution has proved the incident beyond any reasonable doubt?
2. Whether the prosecution has proved that the first accused committed the offence beyond a reasonable doubt?
3. Whether the findings of the Trial Court are liable to be reversed in the Criminal Appeal against the acquittal?
4. Whether the prosecution has proved the offence against the accused Nos.2 to 4 punishable under Section 506(ii) of The IPC beyond a reasonable doubt?
While considering the first question, the Court said, “The sexual assault was violent and barbaric leaving the tender child with serious physical lacerated wounds, bruises, contusions and a tear injury in her private part. Psychologically, her complete personality stood distracted and she was terrified. To call this assault 'animalistic', it will be injustice even to animals as they do not sexually assault young / baby animals.”
With regard to the second question, the Court noted that the child was smothered to the extent that the oxygen supply was cut to the brain leading to several neurological disorders and also making the child unconscious.
“It goes without saying that the accused had trespassed into the house of the victim child with an intention of committing the above offences. The offence under Section 307 of The IPC is punishable with life imprisonment. Therefore, the accused No.1 is liable to be punished for the offence under Section 450 of The IPC. Accordingly, I hold that the accused is guilty of the aforesaid offence”, further said the Court.
While dealing with the third question, the Court observed that the judgment of the Trial Court is an affront to judicial conscience and thus the finding of the acquittal as to one of guilt should be upturned.
In view of the last question, the Court said, “… I am unable to upturn the findings of the Trial Court regarding the accused Nos.2 to 4 into one as guilt and accordingly, the accused Nos.2 to 4 are acquitted of the charge against them.”
The Court asserted that the first accused deserves maximum punishment but his family background shall also be taken into account.
Accordingly, the Court partly allowed the appeal and reversed the acquittal of the first accused.
Cause Title- State v. Dandayutham @ Kannan & Ors. (Neutral Citation: 2023/MHC/842)