The Supreme Court has set aside the conviction of a person whose appeal against conviction for raping his 14 year of niece and sentence to 10 years rigorous imprisonment was upheld by the Madras High Court.

The convict is the maternal uncle of the victim who after enticing the victim that he would marry her, forcibly had sexual intercourse with her and several times thereafter. The victim did not disclose about the occurrence to anybody as the accused promised to marry her. In May 2017, the victim vomited and fainted and her took her to a private hospital and the doctor who examined her reported that she was pregnant.

the Trial Court found the accused guilty of offences under Sections 5(j)(ii) r/w.6, 5(l) r/w.6 and 5(n) r/w.(6) of the POCSO Act and sentenced him to rigorous imprisonment for a period of 10 years along with fine of Rs.10,000/- for each of the offences.

Before the High Court, it was submitted that the accused had married the victim and had begotten two children. It was also argued that the prosecution is vitiated for non-compliance of Sections 24 and 25 of the POCSO Act. The High Court upheld the conviction and sentence.

The Bench of the Supreme Court comprising of Justice L Nageswara Rao and Justice B. R. Gavai directed the District Judge to record the statement of the prosecutrix about her present status. The statement of the prosecutrix was placed on record in which she stated that she has two children and they are being taken care of by the appellant and that she is leading a happy married life.

Advocate M.P. Parthiban appeared for the appellant and Advocate Dr. Joseph Aristotle S. appeared for the state.

The state argued that the prosecutrix was aged 14 years on the date of the offence and gave birth to the first child when she was 15 years and second child was born when she was 17 years. He argued that the marriage between the appellant and the prosecutrix is not legal and that marriage might be only for the purpose of escaping punishment.

The Court held that in the peculiar facts of the case, the conviction and sentence deserved to be set aside. "This Court cannot shut its eyes to the ground reality and disturb the happy family life of the appellant and the prosecutrix. We have been informed about the custom in Tamilnadu of the marriage of a girl with the maternal uncle", the Court held.

The Court clarified that the order shall not be treated as a precedent. It also clarified that "In case, the appellant does not take proper care of the prosecutrix, she or the State on behalf of the prosecutrix can move this Court for modification of this Order".

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