Permit the state to cross-examine the victim on her turning hostile denied: Karnataka high court

In a case arising out of the requirements of the Protection of Children from Sexual Offenses Act, 2012, the court refused to allow the State to cross-examine the victim when she became hostile, is upheld by the High Court of Karnataka through the learned Judge JUSTICE NAGAPRASANNA in the case of State of Karnataka v. Somanna (2022 SCC OnLine Kar 370)

Brief facts of the case:- The present petition was lodged in response to a complaint filed under Section 376(n) of the Penal Code, 1860, read with Section 34 of the Penal Code, 1860, i.e. IPC, Sections 4, 6, 8, 12, and 17 of the POCSO Act, and Sections 9, 10 and 11 of the Prohibition of Child Marriage Act. On the 16th of September, 2019, the trial began recording the testimony of prosecution witnesses, on the same day that the victim became hostile. The State requests permission from the learned Sessions Judge to cross-examine the witness after she became hostile. The State has petitioned this Court after the learned Sessions Judge refused to allow such cross-examination.

Sri. Shankar H.S., learned High Court Government Pleader for the State, will fiercely argue that the order issued on September 16, 2019, is contrary to law, since cross-examination is a right once a witness becomes hostile. The right to cross-examination cannot be taken away just because the proceedings are under the POSCO Act; the Act itself enables such cross-examination and recommends that it be authorized, and that the State be granted to cross-examine the victim.

JUDGEMENT- The Court concluded that a review of the challenged decision reveals that it violates Section 33 of the POCSO Act, as well as judgements issued by numerous courts, and hence is untenable. As a result, the State will be allowed to cross-examine the victim. However, this cross-examination is limited by Section 33 of the POCSO Act, that states that during cross-examination, inquiries must be directed to the Court, who would then direct the same questions to the victim. The Sessions Judge must deliver the inquiries to the victim with such care and prudence that they are in exact accordance.


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