The Delhi High Court on Wednesday convicted a 21-year-old man of raping an 11-year-old girl, while rapping the Additional Sessions Judge (ASJ) for showing “complete lack of sensitivity to human feelings and limitations”
The Bench comprising Justice Vipin Sanghi and Justice IS Mehta observed, “Sexual offences carry with them a great deal of shame, embarrassment and guilt for the victim and the other family members. It is not easy, and it requires courage and confidence for the victim to speak up and disclose the offence. This is more so when the victim and other witnesses are small children and have been threatened with dire consequences. Unfortunately, the Ld. ASJ has shown complete lack of sensitivity and understanding of human behaviour in this regard while appreciating the evidence.”
The court was hearing an appeal filed by the State challenging the acquittal of the accused, one Sumit Kumar. The trial court had taken note of certain “contradictions and inconsistencies” in the testimonies of the prosecution witnesses, opining that these raised a doubt on the prosecution case.
The high court, however, noted that the ASJ had laid great emphasis on the fact that the prosecution had failed to prove with certainty that the age of the prosecutrix was below 12 years on the date of occurrence of the crime. The counsel for the State further pointed out that the ASJ had proceeded on the basis that, if the age of the prosecutrix was not established to be below 12 years on the date of occurrence of the offence, no offence would be made out.
The bench went on to reproach the ASJ for his approach, asserting that the same was “completely flawed”. It then examined the evidence on record to conclude that the trial court’s finding that the girl’s age was not below 12 years of age “is completely fallacious and contrary to the evidence brought on record”.
Besides, it explained that the only consequence of the prosecutrix being found to be below 12 years of age, is that the rape, if established to have been committed, would tantamount to aggravated sexual assault as defined in Section 5(m) of the Protection of Children from Sexual Offences (POCSO) Act, 2012.
The court further went on to assert that the prosecutrix was consistent in her statements at all stages, terming the ASJ’s findings on her testimony as “absurd”. Concluding that the prosecution has proven its case beyond reasonable doubt, it took some final shots at the ASJ for his approach in appreciation of evidence, opining that it has led to grave miscarriage of justice.
“The approach of the Ld. ASJ is not judicious, as in the formation of his opinion, he has got influenced by wholly irrelevant and minor embellishments and inconsistencies, which are bound to creep-in in any case. The Ld. ASJ has failed to appreciate that the core of the case of the prosecution had remained intact, and has been completely established to the hilt by the credible testimonies of the prosecutrix which stood corroborated by PW2, PW7, and by the medical evidence brought on record,” it added.
The court, therefore, set aside the impugned judgment and held Sumit guilty of having committed the offence of aggravated sexual assault on the minor girl. He was thus convicted under the POCSO Act.