The Madras High Court has directed the State Judicial Academy to impart training for the stakeholders in the legal system dealing with such cases, citing the omission of the prosecution and the trial court in framing an appropriate charge under the Protection of Children from Sexual Offences (POCSO) Act, 2012 in a case (Renold Mike Tyson v. State).
Justice P Velmurugan passed the order while confirming the conviction and sentence of a man under Section 4 (punishment for penetrative sexual assault) of the POCSO Act for having sexual intercourse with a 16-year old girl on the false promise to marry.
Pertinently, the Court took particular note that charges should also have been framed under Section 5 of the POCSO Act, which deals with “aggravated penetrative sexual assault.” However, both the prosecution and the Special Judge had failed to frame such a charge.
The High Court, therefore, recommended that special training be imparted via the State Judicial academy to relevant stakeholders such as prosecutors, investigating officers and judges in dealing with POCSO Act cases after obtaining the approval of the Chief Justice and the Academy’s Board of Governors.
“The State Judicial Academy is directed to impart training to the stake holders, dealing with the cases under POCSO Act, including the Investigating Officer, the Public Prosecutor and the Special Judge, who is dealing with the cases under the POCSO Act, after obtaining necessary permission from My Lord the Honourable Chief Justice and Board of Governors,” Justice Velmurugan said.
The case also led the Court to reiterate that in cases of this nature, it would be sufficient to convict an accused on the evidence given by the victim, provided that it inspires the Court’s confidence. In cases under the POCSO Act, the Court cannot always expect independent witnesses, Justice Velmurugan explained.
“On reading of the entire allegations made against the appellant, it would reveal that cases of this nature under the POCSO Act, the Court cannot expect independent witness and the evidence of the victim itself would suffice to convict the accused, when it is trustworthy. The victim, who is aged about 16 years at the time of occurrence, has clearly narrated the incident and the involvement of the accused in the offence, which would clearly attract offence under the POCSO Act. In the case on hand, there is no reason to discard the evidence of the victim,” the judgment stated.
In the case at hand, the accused was alleged to have had sexual intercourse with a sixteen-year-old girl on the false promise to marry her. After the father of the accused came to know of the same, he informed the victim’s brother, who in turn called a Childline and lodged a complaint.
The accused was convicted by a Special Court in 2014 under Section 4, POCSO Act, for which he was sentenced to ten years’ rigorous imprisonment. Further, the Court also directed the payment of Rs 4 lakh as compensation to the victim.
On appeal, the accused alleged that the case involved a false complaint made because of a civil dispute.
It was further argued that the there were material contradictions in the evidence given by the victim. In this regard, it was highlighted that while the victim alleged that the accused had sexual intercourse “several” times before a doctor, she later improved her statement to allege that sexual intercourse happened “three” times.
Rejecting this argument, the Court observed:
“In colloquial language, people used to say “several times” or “three or four times” if the action has taken place more than two times, like wise only the victim girl has stated. Hence, we cannot conclude that there are discrepancies in the evidence of the victim girl.”
Another argument rejected was with regard to the victim’s failure to lodge the complaint herself.
“In every cases, we cannot expect the victim to make complaint before the authority and hence it is not a fatal to the case of the prosecution”, the Judge remarked.
The Court further took note that there was medical evidence supporting the victim’s allegation. Having re-appreciated oral and documentary evidence, the Court proceeded to dismiss the appeal preferred by the accused.
“Even though, there was no forceful intercourse as contended by the learned counsel for the appellant, the appellant on a false promise to marry the victim, had sexual intercourse for several times. Age of the victim child being 16 years, her capacity of understanding cannot be on par with an adult, who has completed 18 years. Even otherwise, if she has given consent for sexual intercourse, her consent is immaterial as she was a child under the definition of Section 2(1) of the POCSO Act. Hence the offence committed by the appellant would come under the definition of aggravated penetrative sexual assault under Section 5(l) punishable under Section 6 of the POCSO Act. But, neither, the prosecution nor the Special Judge framed charges under Section 5(l) of the POCSO Act,” the Judge said.
The Court also saw it fit to enhance the compensation payable. Whereas the Taluk Legal Services Authority had already been directed to pay Rs 4 lakhs to the victim out of the Victim Compensation Scheme, Justice Velumurugan has now directed the accused to also pay Rs 5 lakh as compensation to the victim.
Advocate V Perarasu appeared for the appellant, whereas Public Prosecutor (Pondicherry) D Bharatha Chakravarthy appeared for the State.
Read Judgment here: