Delhi High Court refused to intervene in the acquittal order passed by the Additional Sessions Judge wherein a man was acquitted of charges under section 6 of the POCSO Act for having consensual sexual intercourse with a woman who misrepresented her age before the said man.
In State v. Kaishar Ali, a criminal leave petition was filed by the State where it submitted that the trial court did not take into consideration the birth certificate of the prosecutrix which proves that she was 17 years old at the time of the incident.
While accepting the argument of State's counsel Ms Aasha Tiwari regarding the age of the prosecutrix, the court went on to peruse the statements made under section 164 of the Criminal Procedure Code. In her statement, prosecutrix had clearly mentioned that she misrepresented her age to be 18 years before the accused, so that she can get to be with him. She also pointed out that the accused wouldn't have gone ahead with the impugned act if he knew the actual age of the prosecutrix.
Justice Manmohan relied upon the statements of the prosecutrix to hold that there was no mens rea on the part of the accused to commit offences under section 376/366/363 of IPC and section 6 of POCSO. He also went on to opine that:
'any acquittal order cannot be lightly interfered with by the Appellate Court, though it has wide powers to review the evidence and to come to its own conclusion. The power to grant leave must be exercised with care and caution because the presumption of innocence is further strengthened by the acquittal of an accused'.
The court also relied upon the judgment of the Supreme Court in Ghurey Lal vs. State of Uttar Pradesh, (2008) 10 SCC 450 and identified the following instances where the appellate court can exercise the power of review:
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