The Karnataka High Court observed that evidence in POCSO cases cannot be discarded on the ground that they were interested witnesses, since witnesses available in POCSO cases are usually parents, relatives and the minor victim.

Expressing that the approach taken by the POCSO Court Judge was highly erroneous, the High Court recommended that the POCSO Court Judge undertake training in the Judicial Academy on how to handle such cases.

In that context, the Bench of Justice Hanchate Sanjeevkumar said that, "the POCSO Court has committed gross error in disbelieving this evidence on the ground that they are interested witnesses. In these types of cases, the witnesses available are parents and relatives and minor victim. The POCSO Court wanted independent witnesses and eye-witnesses which is highly impossible. What is impossible the same is expected by the POCSO Court rendering unjustifiable judgment of acquittal."

It was further specified that, "The evidence in these type of cases are to be considered on all the circumstance in order to ascertain and to get impression what would have been occurred to the victim from the evidence produced by the prosecution before the Court. Hyper technical reasons are not permissible."

Subsequently, the Court observed that, "Therefore, from the evidence analyzed and appreciated as discussed the judgment of acquittal made by the POCSO Court is highly and seriously erroneous, shocking conscience of the Court and the POCSO Court judge is found to be highly insensible way lacking professionalism in appreciating the evidence on record. Therefore, the POCSO Court judge who has delivered the judgment requires some training in the Karnataka Judicial Academy on handling these types of cases. Therefore, the Court is hereby recommending making the POCSO Court judge who delivered the judgment to undergo training in the Karnataka Judicial Academy."

HCGP Praveen Devaraddiyavar appeared for the appellant, while Counsel Anwar Basha B appeared for the respondent.

In this case, the State had appealed against the acquittal of the accused in a case where he was charged with outraging the modesty of the complainant's daughter. The incident involved the accused calling, pulling, and indecently behaving with the victim. Despite evidence from the victim and her family, the POCSO Court acquitted the accused. The State argued for the reversal of this decision, citing the witnesses' credibility. The defense maintained the innocence of the accused, pointing out contradictions in the prosecution witnesses' statements.

On analyzing and considering the evidence, the High Court concluded that the accused had committed the offences alleged.

The Court observed that the POCSO Court had adopted a hyper-technical approach, which was not permissible. In that context, it was said that, "The POCSO Court has gone to appreciate the evidence on record too technically without appreciating the evidence on record in correct and true perspective manner and in a natural course of events what would have been occurred. In these types of cases, it cannot be expected eyewitnesses. The POCSO Court has expected eye-witness to the incident. This is completely erroneous, perverse and inhuman approach by the POCSO Court.

By extension of the same the Court further clarified that the appreciation of evidence required expecting a higher degree of preponderance of probabilities and the natural conduct of human beings, as opposed adopting too much technicality in appreciating the evidence. It was said that, "Appreciation of evidence, “beyond reasonable doubt” does not mean that adopting too much technicality in appreciating the evidence, rendering the whole prosecution case as unbelievable. Beyond reasonable doubt means, the prosecution is required to place evidence at higher degree of preponderance of probabilities compared to what is degree of preponderance of probability in civil cases. The “theory of beyond reasonable doubt” means expecting higher degree of preponderance of probabilities and the natural conduct of human beings."

Subsequently, the appeal of the State was allowed and the accused was charged and sentenced under the POCSO Act.

Cause Title: State of Karnataka vs Venkatesh & Anr.

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