Trial Court Is Duty Bound To Determine The Age Of The Victim As Per The Provisions Of Section 34(2) Of POCSO Act: Patna High Court
The Patna High Court held that the Trial Court is duty-bound to determine the victim's age if the same is challenged during the proceedings under Section 34 (2) of the Protection of Children of sexual offences (POCSO) Act.
The Court allowed a Criminal Appeal against the judgment of conviction passed by the Special Court. The Court noted that the Trial Court made no efforts to determine the victim's age; therefore, the presumption under Sections 29 and 30 of the POCSO Act would not be not applicable.
The Bench, comprising, Justice Chakradhari Sharan Singh and Justice Nawneet Kumar Pandey, observed, “From bare perusal of this provision, it appears that the trial court was duty bound to determine the age of the victim as the appellant has challenged the age of the victim. As such, the presumptions under Sections 29 and 30 of the POCSO Act do not attract in this case”.
Advocate Pramod Mishra appeared for the Appellant, and Additional Public Prosecutor Sujit Kumar Singh appeared for the Respondent.
The victim, aged 12 years, alleged that she was scraping grass in the maize field situated towards the western side of her house when the Appellant forcibly put off her pants, gagged her mouth, and pointed a Kachiya (a sharp-edged weapon) at her neck. After that, he committed rape upon her, and when the victim started writhing due to pain, prosecution witness 7 rushed there to save the victim, but the Appellant scuffled with her, and he fled away. The Appellant approached the Court by way of a Criminal Appeal challenging the judgment of conviction passed by the Special Court under the POCSO Act.
The Court noted that the charges under Section 376 of the Indian Penal Code (IPC) are concerned the doctor was unable to find any evidence of sexual assault. The Court also observed that there are several material contradictions in the deposition of the prosecution. From careful scrutiny of the evidence available with the record, the Bench held that the prosecution had not proved its case beyond reasonable doubt.
“So far as the charges under Section 376 of the IPC is concerned, the doctor did not find any evidence of sexual assault. This fact coupled with the material contradictions in the depositions of the prosecution witnesses make the prosecution case doubtful”, the Bench noted.
Accordingly, the Court allowed the Appeal and set aside the impugned judgment.
Cause Title: Kumod Mandal v The State of Bihar