Testimony of child victims under the cases of POCSO Act is reliable and trustworthy: Delhi High Court
The Delhi High Court has passed a judgement on 25-05-2022 in the case of Sunil Kumar vs State of NCT of Delhi 2021 SCC Online Del 2391 wherein the High court upheld the decision of trial court and stressed upon the testimony of child victims in sexual assault cases.
FACTS OF THE CASE
The case was registered on the complaint of prosecutrix who shall be addressed as Ms. ‘X’ hereinafter (name and identity of Ms. ‘X’ is mentioned in the judicial file but not revealed here in order to protect her identity). The facts as alleged in the charge sheet are that Ms. ‘X’ was 12 years old at the time of alleged incident. Accused is her step father. Her real father died around six years back and her mother married the accused. Ms. ‘X’ was residing with her two younger brothers, mother and accused for the last 2-3 years. On 20.08.2013, their mother went to their native place along with the accused. On 24.08.2013, accused returned to Delhi without their mother. Ms. ‘X’ along with her two younger brothers went to sleep at the neighbour’s house. At about 12.00 mid night, accused came there and took Ms. ‘X’ along with her two brothers to his jhuggi. It is further stated in the charge sheet that after reaching the jhuggi, accused gave beatings to the brothers of Ms. ‘X’ and sent them upstairs. It is further alleged that thereafter, accused removed her clothes and his own clothes and penetrated his urinal part in the vagina of Ms. ‘X’. It is stated that neighbour Rafiq has seen Ms. ‘X’ wearing her clothes and raised alarm. Seeing this accused tried to run away and neighbours caught hold of him. It is further stated that police came at the spot and recorded the statement of Ms. ‘X’.” After completing the investigation, the charge sheet was filed and the charges were framed under Section 6 of the POCSO.
A appeal has been filed under Section 374(2) read with Section 383 Cr.P.C. on behalf of the appellant against the judgment dated 27.07.2020 and the order on sentence dated 10.09.2020 passed by the learned ASJ (West), POCSO (Central), Tis Hazari Court, Delhi in Sessions Case No. 258/2013 in respect of FIR No. 353/2013 registered under Sections 377/376 IPC & Sections 6/9 of the POCSO Act at P.S. Punjabi Bagh, Delhi whereby the appellant has been convicted for the offence punishable under Section 6 of the POCSO Act. Further, vide order on sentence dated 10.09.2020, the appellant has been sentenced to undergo RI for a period of 10 years along with payment of fine of Rs.5,000/-, in default whereof to further undergo SI for a period of 15 days.
Learned counsel for the appellant has contended that in the present case, the child victim’s statement does not inspire confidence as there are contradictions about the place where the children had been sleeping on the night of the incident. Another contention raised on behalf of the appellant challenging the testimony of child witness on the ground that no external injuries were noted in her MLC.
High Court said, in so far as the testimony of the child victim is concerned, it has been repeatedly held that if the testimony of the child victim inspires confidence, it is sufficient to record the conviction. Court relied on the case of State of Himachal Pradesh v. Manga Singh reported as (2019) 16 SCC 759 and with the help of case named State of Punjab v. Gurmit Singh and Others (1996) 2 SCC 384 stated that Courts should find no difficulty to act on the testimony of a victim of sexual assault alone to convict an accused where her testimony inspires confidence and is found to be reliable.
The Court Concluded that, Prior to recording the testimony of the child victim, the Trial Court had recorded its satisfaction as to her maturity and competency for understanding the questions and giving their answers. Accordingly, this Court, in absence of submissions to the contrary, concurs with the opinion of the Trial Court that the child victim was competent to stand as a witness.
It has been known to the Court that the appellant is the step-father of the child victim. The appellant was caught at the spot on the day of the incident itself. There is no delay in either reporting the incident or recording of the version of the child victim. As already noted above, the statements of the child victim made during investigation and the trial are consistent about the incident and the role of the appellant. Accordingly, this Court concurs with the finding of the Trial Court that the testimony of the child victim is trustworthy, reliable and admissible.
Consequently, the impugned judgment and the order on sentence herein, are upheld and the present appeal alongwith the pending applications, is dismissed.
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JUDGMENT REVIEWED BY ABHINAV CHATURVEDI
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