The Madhya Pradesh High Court recently observed that instead of informing the local police, the act of merely requesting the accused not to commit rape of a minor would amount to the act of aiding as defined and punished under Sections 16 and 17 of the POCSO Act.
The Bench of Justice G. S. Ahluwalia was hearing a criminal revision filed against the order passed by the Special Judge (POCSO Act), Gwalior, by which the charges under Sections 16 and 17 of the POCSO Act had been framed against a woman.
The facts in brief
The woman/applicant, who was working as a Counsellor of Ashram Shanti Niketan Balika Grih, Birla Nagar, Hazira, Gwalior, got to know from a mentally retarded minor, who was staying in the Ashram, that she was continuously being raped by a Baba.
During the course of the investigation, it was found that the applicant/Woman was aware of the physical violation of the minor prosecutrix, and in spite of that, she did not take any action against Jain Baba.
Allegedly, when the applicant saw misdeeds of Jain Baba, then, instead of taking any action against the co-accused Jain Baba, she simply requested him not to do the said act.
Consequently, the Trial Court by order dated 10.08.2021 framed charges against her under Sections 16 (Abetment of an offence) and 17 (Punishment for abetment) of POCSO Act.
Section 16 of the POCSO Act defines abetment which provides that either prior to or at the time of the commission of the act, if somebody does anything to facilitate the commission of that act and thereby facilitates the commission thereof, then it can be said to aid the doing of that act.
At the outset, the Court noted that the allegations her was that in spite of getting the knowledge about the misdeeds of co-accused Jain Baba, she did not take any action whereas as per Section 19(1) of the POCSO Act, required her to inform the Special Juvenile Police Unit or the local police about the incident.
It may be noted that non-communication of information as required under Section 19(1) of the POCSO Act is a punishable offence, which may extend to six months.
Against this backdrop, the Court noted thus:
"When the applicant had already seen the co-accused with the prosecutrix and the prosecutrix has specifically alleged that she was being ravished by the co-accused and instead of informing the local police, it is alleged that the applicant had simply requested the co-accused not to indulge himself in such an act, then it would certainly come within the definition of abetment as the act of the applicant amounts to aiding the co-accused for doing the act of rape on the prosecutrix"
Consequently, considering the totality of the facts and circumstances of the case, the Court opined that at present, it cannot be said that there is no sufficient material to frame the charge against the applicant and therefore, her plea was dismissed.
Case title - Smt. Mamta Tiwari Vs. State of MP and anr.