A Sikkim High Court Bench of Justice Meenakshi Madan Rai has set aside the acquittal of a man in a POCSO Act case and convicted him of sexually assaulting a minor girl.

In that context, it was said that "the Court failed to appreciate the shock and consternation that the child evidently experienced which left her dumbstruck for some time and made her reticent about discussing it even with her mother. That apart, the psychology of every person to a traumatic incident differs and consequently so does the reaction. There is no strait jacket formula for reactions to sexual assaults, more so, when the victim is a bare 10 year old and unable to comprehend the perverse act of an adult married man".

Additional Public Prosecutor Yadev Sharma and Assistant Public Prosecutor Sujan Sunwar appeared for the State. Counsel Udai P Sharma appeared for the Respondent.

In this case, an FIR was lodged by the Ward Panchayat on having received a verbal report from the victim's mother, stating that the accused had attempted rape on the victim. However, the trial court had acquitted the accused because it opined that the evidence of the victim did not inspire confidence, was shaky and unworthy of any credence.

The High Court observed that "In the case at hand, there is no such glaring discrepancy in the FIR for the reason already discussed above. The language used in the FIR ought not to divert the attention of the Court from the evidence of the victim pertaining to the incident, which has been cogent and consistent. Apart from which, the Court is required to give purposive interpretation to the provisions of the POCSO Act. The purpose of enacting the POCSO was to have a self contained comprehensive legislation inter alia to provide for protection of children from the offences of sexual assault, sexual harassment and pornography, with due regard to safeguarding the interest and well being of the child at every stage of the judicial process. Disbelieving a minor's evidence despite its consistency and cogency defeats the purpose of the legislation. The Court cannot be pedantic in its appreciation of the victim‟s evidence".

In a similar context, the Court also observed that there could not be mathematical precision in the evidence furnished by different witnesses, articulated by each in their own individual style and manner, but consistency pertaining to the crux of the case indeed subsisted in the evidence of the Prosecution witnesses, and did not affect the core of the Prosecution case, being that of sexual assault.

In light of the same, the High Court concluded that the respondent had sexually assaulted the minor.

Cause Title: State of Sikkim v. Pintso Bhutia

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