The Supreme Court set aside the conviction of a man accused in a POCSO case after noticing that he had married the prosecutrix and had two children.
"This Court cannot shut its eyes to the ground reality and disturb the happy family life of the appellant and the prosecutrix. We have been informed about the custom in Tamilnadu of the marriage of a girl with the maternal uncle.", the bench of Justices L Nageswara Rao and B R Gavai observed while rejecting the objection raised by the State which contended that the marriage might be only for the purpose of escaping punishment.
The accused, who is the maternal uncle of the prosecutrix, was convicted under Sections 5(j)(ii)read with Section 6, 5(I) read with Section 6 and 5(n) read with Section 6 of Protection of Child from Sexual Offences (POCSO) Act, 2012. He was sentenced to undergo rigorous imprisonment for a period of 10 years. The Madras High Court upheld the conviction and sentence.
Before the Apex Court, the appellant submitted that allegation against him was that he had physical relations with the prosecutrix on the promise of marrying her and that he married the prosecutrix and they have two children. The court also noticed the statement of the prosecutrix in which she stated that she has two children and they are being taken care of by the appellant and she is leading a happy married life.
The State opposed the appeal and submitted that the prosecutrix was aged 14 years on the date of the offence and gave birth to the first child when she was 15 years and the second child was born when she was 17 years and the marriage between the accused and the prosecutrix is not legal. While allowing the appeal, the bench observed:
In the peculiar facts and circumstances of this case, we are of the considered view that the conviction and sentence of the appellant who is maternal uncle of the prosecutrix deserves to be set aside in view of the subsequent events that have been brought to the notice of this Court. This Court cannot shut its eyes to the ground reality and disturb the happy family life of the appellant and the prosecutrix. We have been informed about the custom in Tamilnadu of the marriage of a girl with the maternal uncle.
The bench clarified that if the accused-appellant does not take proper care of the prosecutrix, she or the State on behalf of the prosecutrix can move for modification of this Order.
Case Title: K Dhandapani vs State
Citation : 2022 LiveLaw (SC) 477
For Appellant: Advocate M.P.Parthiban
For Respondent State: Advocate (Dr)Joseph Aristotle