The Delhi High Court has upheld five-year jail term awarded to a school bus driver for sexually assaulting two minor students of class 5 in 2014 while observing that minor contradictions could not be a ground to disbelief or discredit the testimonies of victims when the nature and gravity of accusations was very serious.

The Bench of Justice Jasmeet Singh observed that “The above said testimonies of both victim No.1 and 2 clearly describe the acts of aggravated sexual assault committed by the appellant on the minor child victims. The description of the incident has been described by both the victims in an identical manner and hence, the contention that the contradictions shake the version of the prosecution and makes it unreliable cannot be accepted.”

Advocate Archit Upadhayay appeared for the appellant and APP Ajay Vikram Singh appeared for the respondent.

The appeal was preferred against the order of the Trial Court whereby the appellant was convicted for offences punishable under Section 354A of the Indian Penal code, 1860 and Section 10 of POCSO Act and was sentenced to undergo rigorous imprisonment for 5 years.

The Counsel for the appellant contended that there were contradictions in the prosecution case and that both the victims could not give the exact date and narration of the event.

The High Court noted that even though both the victims were of tender age i.e., aged only about 10 years at the time of incident, they had duly corroborated the incident.

Further, regarding the contention that leading questions were put forth to one of the victims without being declared hostile in order to put words in her mouth, the High Court observed that “The declaration that a witness is hostile merely means that the witness is adverse or unfriendly and not that the witness is unreliable.”

Therefore, the High Court said that “The Sessions Court has correctly observed that the victims, being only about 10 years of age at the time of the incident, would have no grudge against the appellant so as to falsely implicate him in this case. It has also correctly observed that the victims were very young at the time of incident and keeping in view their tender age, minor contradictions cannot be a ground to disbelief or discredit their testimonies.”

“In the present case, the appellant has not been able to shake the version of the prosecution and the prosecution has successfully proved its case beyond a reasonable doubt.” concluded the High Court.

Accordingly, the appeal was dismissed.

Cause Title- Dev Nath Yadav v. State of NCT of Delhi

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