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If Age Of Victim Girl Is Suspicious & Not Proved, Benefit Of Doubt Is Extended To Accused Under POCSO Act: Telangana High Court

Jagriti Sanghi
16 July 2022 5:34 AM GMT
If Age Of Victim Girl Is Suspicious & Not Proved, Benefit Of Doubt Is Extended To Accused Under POCSO Act: Telangana High Court
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In a recent case, the Telangana High Court ruled that benefit of doubt has to be extended to the accused under the POCSO Act, if the age of the victim girl cannot be proved by prosecution to be below 18 years of age. Brief Facts of the case The appellant/accused was convicted for the offence under POCSO Act and Section 366A (punishment for procuration of minor girl),...

In a recent case, the Telangana High Court ruled that benefit of doubt has to be extended to the accused under the POCSO Act, if the age of the victim girl cannot be proved by prosecution to be below 18 years of age.

Brief Facts of the case

The appellant/accused was convicted for the offence under POCSO Act and Section 366A (punishment for procuration of minor girl), 376(2)(n) (punishment for repeated rape on same woman) and 342 (punishment for wrongful confinement) of IPC passed by Special Judge for Trial under POCSO Act.

The case of the prosecution was that father of the victim filed a complaint on 20.02.2017 morning hours after she left for school, she did not return and suspected the appellant herein. The victim girl was found and she stated that the accused had taken her by force to a room stating that he would marry her and raped her continuously for 12 days.

In her chief examination however, the victim stated that she is acquainted with the appellant and during her stay with him, she used to cook food.

Findings of the Court

At the outset, the Court observed that as seen from the admissions of victim girl, there was never any force by the appellant in any manner either to accompany him or staying at a room. The admission by victim that they stayed together and she cooked sometimes and used the bathroom outside the house where there were several houses show that she stayed on her own volition without any force.

The main reason for convicting the appellant was age of victim as the date of birth of victim according to prosecution was 17.12.2000. As on the date of incident, it was submitted that she was about 17 years and less than 18 years. However, the Court noted that the prosecution did not file any proof to prove her age. In the absence of any certificate issued by the hospital or municipal authorities, the correct age of victim girl could not be inferred, it held.

The court held that if the age as projected by prosecution is suspicious and not proved, the conviction on the basis of age of victim cannot be sustained and benefit of doubt has to be extended to the accused herein.

Thus, the Criminal Petition was allowed.

Case Title: Guda Mahender v. The State of Telangana

Citation: 2022 LiveLaw (Tel) 68 

Click Here To Read/Download Judgment


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