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Delhi HC acquits man in POCSO case, says 'false implication in child abuse case far worse than jail'

The appellant was sentenced to five years and fined Rs. 4000 for the offence punishable under Section 10 of the POCSO Act, 2012 and Section 506 of the IPC.

Edited By: Anurag Roushan @Candid_Tilaiyan New Delhi Updated on: April 17, 2024 18:32 IST
Delhi HC acquits man in POCSO case
Image Source : PTI The image has been used for representative purposes only.

In a significant ruling, the Delhi High Court overturned the conviction and five-year sentence of a man charged with sexually assaulting a minor girl under the Protection of Children from Sexual Offences (POCSO) Act. Justice Anoop Kumar Mendiratta, who heard the appeal filed by the convict against the trial court's judgment from January 2023, asserted that the social stigma endured by those wrongly accused of being "child abusers" is often more distressing than incarceration itself. The judge pointed out notable deficiencies in the prosecution's case and deemed the testimony of the victim lacking in reliability.

What did the court say? 

"The presumption of guilt under Section 29 & 30 of POCSO Act taken by the learned Trial Court could not be an edifice to convict the appellant since the testimony of the victim is unreliable and there are serious flaws and gaps in the prosecution case," the court order, passed on Monday, said.

It emphasised that a wrongful conviction is worse than a wrongful acquittal. "As a wrongful acquittal shakes the confidence of people, a wrongful conviction is far worse. A child abuser in the eventuality of false implication even continues to suffer a lot of social stigma which is much more painful than the rigours of a trial and imprisonment," the court order said.

About the case

In 2016, a case emerged involving a 12-year-old victim who accused her aunt's brother of sexual abuse at her residence. The high court noted a delay in filing the FIR, which gained importance due to a marital disagreement between the victim's uncle and the appellant's sister, the victim's aunt.

The appellant received a five-year prison sentence and a Rs. 4000 fine for violating Section 10 of the POCSO Act, 2012, and Section 506 of the IPC. Additionally, they were ordered to pay Rs. 20,000 in compensation to the victim. The case, registered at Jaitpur police station in 2016 under POCSO and other IPC sections, sparked debate in the High Court.

The court acknowledged the possibility of the case being influenced by coaching or fabrication due to existing animosity and marital disputes. Notably, the victim declined internal medical examination without clear reasons, the court observed. The High Court also pointed out inconsistencies in the victim's statements about the appellant's actions, suggesting discretion in her narration.

(With inputs from agencies)

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