In the recent judgment passed by the Special POCSO judge, where he convicted a man accused of raping a minor girl was quashed by the Bombay High Court. The reason given by the High Court for quashing such order of the POCSO judge was, that the accused was minor or below the age of 18 at the time when the incident took place.
The appeal was being heard by Justice AM Badar, that was being filed against the conviction of accused under Section 376(2) (g), 506 of the Indian Penal Code and also under Section 4 of POCSO Act (Protection of Children from Sexual Offences Act).
Brief facts of the Case:
A minor girl who was suffering from Intellectual Disability (mental challenged) was repeatedly raped by the ‘appellate accused’ and his roommate who was a juvenile at the time of the incident. According to the documents shown to verify the age of the accused, his birth certificate clearly depicted his date of birth as 25th April 1995, which led to the enquiry conducted by the Special POCSO judge ordered by the Hon’ble High Court. As per the reports of the enquiry conducted under Section 7a of the POCSO Act regarding the age of the accused, it was found that he was 16 years 10 months and 18 days old at the time the incident took place.
As per the case of Prosecution, victim girl was the resident of the same building as that of accused and appellant-accused, referred to as accused No.1. It is also being believed that the girl was suffering from mental illness and was raped by both appellant accused’s roommate (juvenile) and then by another man who lived nearby their building. The girl was also threatened and blackmailed by the appellant-accused to not tell her parents about the incident. Further, she was repeatedly raped by the appellant-accused on 15th March 2013.
In the present case, Justice Badar taking into consideration the Judgment passed by the Supreme Court in the case of Hari Ram v. The State of Rajasthan held that, once it is proved that the accused was below the age of 18 years at the time of the commission of the crime, he would be given benefits under the Juvenile Justice Act.
Observation of the Court:
In the present case, since juvenility of accused on the date of commission of the offence was proved; the Court observed that for reformation of his mind, he needs to be sent to the Juvenile Justice Board. He will be entitled to the punishment given by the JJ Board. Any sentence or order given by the trial court shall not be considered relevant. He had already undergone imprisonment for a term of 5 years and hence the sentence imposed on him needs to be quashed and a new record should be placed before the JJ Board for passing appropriate orders under the Juvenile Justice (Care and Protection of Children) Act.
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