Courts Must Not Only Have Sensitive Heart But Also Alert Mind During Trial In Child Sexual Assault Cases: Delhi HC
The Delhi High Court has said that it is the duty of every court to not only have a heart that is sensitive but also a mind which is alert while recording and conducting trials, especially in child sexual assault cases.
A Single Bench of Justice Swarana Kanta Sharma reiterated, “… though the State and administration can provide the necessary and modern infrastructure to the judges as well as vulnerable witness deposition complexes, it cannot generate a sensitive heart of a judge. It has to be developed by the judge himself as part of his duty bound by his oath to the constitution and service to the citizens of the country. It is also the duty of every Court to not only have a heart which is sensitive but also a mind which is alert while recording and conducting trial, especially in sexual assault cases, so that the trial is not diverted to a direction which is totally unconnected, uncalled for and causes further trauma or humiliation or brings into public domain, the internal agony and trauma that a child might have discussed or shared with someone she had thought will keep to himself i.e., the counselor.”
The Bench reminded that the judicial precedents of the High Court and the Apex Court and several workshops conducted to sensitize judges as to how to examine vulnerable and child witnesses at no point of time be forgotten while one is dealing with vulnerable witnesses.
Advocate L.S. Chaudhary appeared on behalf of the appellant while APP Naresh Kumar Chahar appeared on behalf of the State.
An appeal was filed by the appellant under Section 374 of the Cr.PC. challenging the judgment and order on sentence passed by the Additional Sessions Judge whereby the accused persons were convicted for committing offences punishable under Section 363/365/34 of the IPC and were also convicted for committing offence punishable under Section 376 of IPC. In this case, the victim had lodged a complaint with the police on the allegations that she had visited a Hanuman temple along with her family and her parents had gone inside the temple while she was left outside along with the luggage in front of a government school.
In the meanwhile, a white colour car with two boys, one driving the car and the other sitting in the rear seat stopped the car in front of the victim and the boy driving the car dragged her inside and the petitioner who was sitting on the rear seat committed a sexual assault upon her while the car continued to move. After about two hours, the victim was dropped at the same place from where she was dragged inside the car, and on narration of the entire incident to her father, the case was registered.
The High Court in the above context observed, “The child who was being examined in the case at hand was in the category of a child witness who is vulnerable, and it was not a new phenomenon in the criminal jurisprudence even in the year 2009-2010, as even at that point of time, there were numerous judgments and guidelines as to how a child witness especially in a sexual assault case was to be examined.”
The Court asserted that the material brought on record by the prosecution was insufficient to return a finding of guilt against the appellant and that the prosecution had failed to establish its case beyond a reasonable doubt.
Accordingly, the Court set aside the order of sentence.
Cause Title- Sanjeev Kumar v. The State of NCT of Delhi (Neutral Citation: 2023:DHC:3076)