The Madras High Court has dismissed an appeal filed against a trial court order convicting a man under Protection of Children from Sexual Offences (POCSO) Act. The ground for appeal was an affidavit filed by the girl stating that she was in love with the appellant for four years, and the threat of imminent arrest would ruin their lives. The bench of Justice P Velmurugan held that once the case is registered, it is an offence against the state and no subsequent compromise cannot take away the offence. This order came, just two days before the Supreme Court issued specific guidelines on dealing with sexual offences, which included, non-consideration of compromise in such cases.
The appellant was convicted by trial court under Section 5(l) [penetrative sexual assault on the child more than once or repeatedly] read with 6 [punishment of aggravated sexual assault] of POCSO Act and sentenced him to undergo 10 years Rigorous Imprisonment. He challenged his conviction before the High Court, while his sentence was already suspended based on the affidavit by the prosecutrix.
The prosecutrix filed a sworn affidavit before the court seeking suspension of sentence and stated that both appellant and the prosecutrix are living together for four years, and they settled the matter and hence, the trial court order be set aside. The government counsel submitted that during the trial, the prosecutrix has clearly stated the appellant forcefully had penetrated sexual assault repeatedly by making false promise. The government counsel further submitted that in order to escape from the clutches of law, he filed the petition before the trial court, the same was rightly dismissed and now he has approached the high court.
The appellant argued that her fresh affidavit be taken as additional evidence and she be re-examined before the court. The bench observed that in her statement recorded under section 164 CrPC, it is very clear that she was at the age of 17 years on the day of occurrence and the appellant had made a false promise that he would marry her and against her will, he had forceful penetrated sexual intercourse repeatedly with her, subsequently, he refused to marry her.
The court further observed that in her affidavit she has not claimed that the incident did not occur and has only stated that she fell in love with the appellant over two years. The court opined, “The scope of the Act is very clear, mere fall in love is not an offence but a person who is above 18 had sexual assault intentionally against a child who is under 18 years is an offence. Any offence committed under POCSO Act is not compoundable offence.”
The court further observed that even assuming that the girl fell in love with the appellant, and that they were living in together even on the date of commission of offence, still provisions of POCSO Act are attracted and the offence is non-compoundable.
“Once the victim girl gave complaint that the appellant has committed the offence and the case has been registered, it is offence against State. Therefore, subsequent compromise will not take away the offence,” said the court in its order. The court stated that taking her affidavit as additional evidence is against the scope of the POCSO Act and thus dismissed the appeal, finding no merit.
The complete order may be read here
SC addresses paternalistic and misogynistic attitudes reflected in judicial orders; issues directions
3,110 rape cases recorded against Dalits and ST women in 2019: Centre in RS
Madras HC takes cognisance of officer threatened for filing sexual harassment complaint