19 Jan 2023 11:27 AM GMT
The Delhi High Court has said that there is no requirement of a birth certificate to prove the age of the victim and that any school certificate is sufficient evidence to prove the victim’s age. Justice Jasmeet Singh made the observation while perusing section 94(2)(i) of the Juvenile Justice (Care and Protection of children) Act, 2015 which provides for presumption and determination of...
The Delhi High Court has said that there is no requirement of a birth certificate to prove the age of the victim and that any school certificate is sufficient evidence to prove the victim’s age.
Justice Jasmeet Singh made the observation while perusing section 94(2)(i) of the Juvenile Justice (Care and Protection of children) Act, 2015 which provides for presumption and determination of age.
The provision states that where the Child Welfare Committee or the Juvenile Justice Board has reasonable grounds for doubt regarding whether the person brought before it is a child or not, it shall undertake the process of age determination, by seeking evidence by obtaining the date of birth certificate from the school or the matriculation or equivalent certificate.
“Hence, there is no requirement of there being a first school leaving certificate or a birth certificate to prove the age of the victim. Any school certificate is sufficient evidence to prove the age of the victim,” the court observed.
Justice Singh upheld the conviction and a sentence of 10 years of rigorous imprisonment and fine awarded to a man in a POCSO case in 2019. He was held guilty of offences under sections 363, 366 and 376 of IPC and section 6 of POCSO Act.
The FIR was registered based on a complaint filed by victim’s father alleging that on January 23, 2017, he went to drop his daughter at the school, however, she did not return home and thus he apprehended that she had been kidnapped.
On the other hand, the counsel appearing for the appellant submitted that he had been falsely implicated in the case and that the victim voluntarily left her house and made physical relations with him with her consent as they were in a relationship.
It was submitted that the victim was major at the time of incident and there was no record of first school or birth certificate of the victim to prove the correct age of the victim.
On the other hand, it was submitted by the prosecution that the victim had proved in her testimony that she was kidnapped by the appellant, when she was 16 years old, on the false pretext of marriage and that he had repeatedly committed rape or penetrative sexual assault on her.
The counsel appearing for the victim contended that the date of birth of the victim was proved as January 20, 2001 by the victim herself, her mother and In-charge of the school and therefore, she was minor at the time of commission of offence.
Noting that the victim’s age is of utmost importance in the matter, the court took note of her school certificate, admission application form and admission and withdrawal register, showing her date of birth as January 20, 2001.
“These exhibits show the date of birth of victim as 20.01.2001. Therefore, it is established that the victim was a minor, i.e. 15 years of age at the time of the first incident, being in July/August 2016 and the same stands duly proved,” the court said.
Justice Singh said that the offence of kidnapping by the appellant stood established in the case as the victim was taken away from the lawful guardianship of her parents without their consent. The court also noted that the victim was recovered with the appellant in Punjab’s Phagwara.
The court also rejected the appellant’s argument that the relationship between him and the victim was consensual, as a minor is incapable of giving consent.
“Most importantly, even the FSL Report clearly establishes the offence of rape committed by the appellant upon the victim because it is clearly states that the appellant is the biological father and the victim is the biological mother of the child,” the court said.
The court thus upheld the orders passed by the trial court convicting and sentencing the appellant.
Title: SURJEET KUMAR v. STATE
Citation: 2023 LiveLaw (Del) 66