Case BriefsHigh Courts

Karnataka High Court: A Single Judge Bench comprising of Sreenivas Harish Kumar, J. decided a criminal petition, wherein the Court released the accused on bail in light of lack of prima facie case against him.

The petitioner-accused was booked in a criminal case for offences punishable under Sections 4 and 6 of Prevention of Children from Sexual Offences (POCSO) Act along with Sections 363 and 376 IPC. The complaint was filed by the mother of the victim girl. The girl was traced and her statement was recorded under Section 164 CrPC. In her statement, the girl stated that she was in love with the accused. They wanted to marry each other. The accused came to her college and took her with him to his sister’s house.

On perusal of the statement of the girl, the Court was of the view that at the instant stage, prima facie materials were not forthcoming to make out a case for alleged offence under POCSO Act and IPC. The statement of the girl clearly showed that there was love between her and the accused. The investigation was complete and charge-sheet had been filed. The Court held that detention of the petitioner in custody was not necessary. Therefore, the petition was allowed and the accused was enlarged on bail subject to the conditions imposed. [Putappa v. State of Karnataka, Crl. Petition No. 9797 of 2017, dated 27.4.2018]

NewsTreaties/Conventions/International Agreements

The Union Cabinet has approved the renewal of Long Term Agreements (LTAs) for supply of iron ore (lumps and fines) of grade +64% Fe content to Japanese Steel Mills (JSMs) and POSCO, South Korea for another 5 years (i.e. 1.4.2018 up to 31.3.2023) through MMTC Limited.

Benefits: Export of iron ore under the LTAs would help to strengthen India’s bilateral ties with longstanding partner countries, Japan and South Korea secure an export market and result in inflow of foreign exchange. The agreement will enable India to secure international market for its ores and ensure stable economic ecosystem which provides direct and indirect employment in mining, logistics and related sectors.

[Press Release no. 1530134]

Ministry of Commerce & Industry

Case BriefsHigh Courts

Sikkim High Court: While deciding the present appeal wherein the appellant convicted under the POCSO Act, prayed before the Court for his acquittal, the Bench of Meenakshi Madan Rai, J., dismissed the appeal and urged that the Police, the media and especially the POCSO Special Courts to devise methods to protect the identity of a child abuse victim.

Observing the obligation laid down by the POCSO Act, the Court laid emphasis on the sensitive approach of the parties concerned and to the best of their ability to take steps for prevention of such sexual exploitation of children.

As per the facts, the appellant was convicted under Sections 9(l), 9(m) and 9(n) of the Protection of Children from Sexual Offences Act, 2012 (POCSO Act) and S. 354 of the IPC and the sentences were ordered to run concurrently. The counsel for the appellant, Gulshan Lama, raised doubts upon the credibility of the victim’s testimony stating that her evidence lacked corroboration. Per contra, the respondent via their counsel Karma Thinlay Namgyal argued that it is now well established that the evidence of a victim of sexual assault requires no corroboration if the evidence given by her is cogent and consistent; and in the instant matter, the evidence given by the victim has been consistent despite her age and in her cross-examination she did not hesitate.

Perusing the facts of the case, the Court pointed out that there were slip-ups by the Special Court vis-à- vis the protection of the identity of the victim in the impugned decision in issue. The Court noted that the charge-sheet against the appellant also consisted of all the details of the victim. The Court observed that S. 33(7) of the POCSO Act enjoins upon the Special Court to ensure that the identity (which includes child’s family, school, relatives) of the child is not disclosed at any time during the course of investigation or trial. The provisions in law which seek to protect the identity of the child are for the purpose of sheltering her from curiosity and prying eyes, and to protect her future by preventing any kind of tracking and repetition of such incidents which could further traumatize her psychologically creating insecurity and apprehension in her mind. The Investigating Agency for their part should ensure that the identity of the victim is protected and not disclosed during investigation or in the Charge-Sheet. A separate file may perhaps be maintained in utmost confidence, for reference. Furthermore the Court observed that the Child Protection Legislations lay an obligation not only on the Court and the Police, but also on the media and society at large to protect children from the exponentially increasing sexual offences and to the best of their ability to take steps for prevention of such sexual exploitation of children. [Subash Chandra Rai v. The State of Sikkim, 2018 SCC OnLine Sikk 29, decided on 31.03.2018]

Case BriefsHigh Courts

Rajasthan High Court: The accused-appellant who was in custody in relation to offences punishable under various sections of IPC and POCSO Act, was enlarged on bail by a Single Judge Bench comprising of P.K. Lohra, J.

The accused was charged under Sections 363, 366-A, 342 and 376 of IPC along with Sections 5 and 6 of the POCSO Act. The accused had filed a post-arrest bail application which was rejected by the learned Special Judge. The said order was challenged by the accused-appellant in the instant petition. Learned counsel for the petitioner submitted that the trial court did not appreciate the evidence in proper light and prayed that the accused be enlarged on bail.

The High Court bestowed its consideration to the arguments advanced at the Bar and perused the evidence on record as well as the impugned order. The Court closely considered the submissions made on behalf of the appellant that in his statement, the medical expert stated that the prosecutrix was above 18 years of age. There was a delay of more than one and a half month, from the date of incident, in lodging the FIR which per se creates doubt about the incident. The prosecutrix accompanied the appellant of her own volition and lived with him for about two months. There were contradictions in the statements of the prosecutrix herself. Further, the appellant was in custody for about one and a half year and completion of trial was likely to take considerable time. Considering these facts and circumstances of the case, the Court held that the trial court erred in declining bail to the accused-appellant. Therefore, the impugned order was set aside and the appellant was enlarged on bail. [Ramdev v. State of Rajasthan, 2018 SCC OnLine Raj 740,  order dated 05-04-2018]

Case BriefsHigh Courts

Karnataka High Court: While deciding a criminal petition filed under Section 439 of CrPC, a Single Judge Bench comprising of Budihal R.B., J. rejected to grant bail to the petitioner in light of the investigation still pending in the case.

The petitioner was charged under Section 376(C) IPC along with Sections 6 and 8 of the POCSO Act, 2012. The petitioner was a head master of a government school and he was alleged to have physically molested as many as seven girl students. On the basis of the complaint filed by these victim girl students, a criminal case was registered against the petitioner for the offences punishable under the Sections as mentioned above.

Learned counsel for the petitioner contended that the acts mentioned in the complaint were alleged to be done three years prior to filing of the complaint. Also the petitioner was on the verge of retirement and he was falsely implicated in the case. He prayed that the petitioner may be granted bail. Learned High Court Government Pleader opposed the bail petition.

The High Court perused the record as well as the grounds urged in the bail petition. The Court found that as many as seven girl students gave statement against the petitioner to the police as well as before the JMFC under Section 164 CrPC. It was also found that the matter was still under investigation and the final investigation report was yet to be filed. The Court was of the opinion that this was not a fit case to exercise discretion in favor of the petitioner. Accordingly, the petition was dismissed without granting bail to the petitioner. [Shrinivasa Joshi v. State of Karnataka, Crl. Petition No. 8176 of 2017, order dated 10.11.2017]

Case BriefsHigh Courts

High Court of Himachal Pradesh: While deciding a criminal appeal filed by the State, a Single Judge Bench of Chander Bhusan Barowalia, J. held that the statement of the victim is of great importance in cases under the POCSO Act; however the appeal was dismissed based on the totality of circumstances.

The appeal was preferred by the State laying challenge to the Judgment passed by the Special Judge whereby the accused was acquitted from the offence punishable under Section 8 of POCSO Act read with Section 354(1) IPC and Section 3(1)(xi) of SC/ST Act. The victim (a girl, student of 8th standard and belonging to SC category) filed a complaint against the accused (a shop keeper) alleging that he molested her physically and asked for sexual favor.

Learned trial court acquitted the accused. Learned Advocate General argued that the prosecution proved the guilt of the accused beyond reasonable doubt. He further argued that the statement of the victim and her classmates showed that the accused committed a serious crime.

The High Court perused the statement of the victim and the witnesses and held that in cases of such like nature, statement of victim is of great importance. However, the Court found that there were discrepancies in the statement of the victim and other possibilities could not be ruled out. Also, none of the prosecution witnesses supported the case of the prosecution. Accordingly, having regard to the totality of the circumstances, the appeal was dismissed and the impugned order was upheld. [State of H.P. v. Desh Raj, 2017 SCC OnLine HP 1481, decided on 4.10.2017]

Case BriefsHigh Courts

Chhattisgarh High Court: The High Court decided a regular bail application recently in which the offender was a young man aged about 25 years and a first time offender. He was charged under S. 354 IPC and S. 8 of POCSO Act for outraging the modesty of a 17 years old minor girl during a wedding ceremony.

Considering the fact that he was in jail for 2 months and 17 days and he being a first time offender, Chandra Bhushan Bajpai, J. said he was inclined to give the accused-applicant the last opportunity so that he doesn’t commit any offence in future and lives peacefully in the society.

The Court went on to add to the list of conditions for granting bail that the applicant was directed not to communicate/contact in any of the manner with the prosecutrix, family members and witnesses cited in the charge-sheet directly or indirectly and if something of this sort happens, and the prosecutrix may report the said act to the trial Judge. [Deepak Nag v. State of Chhattisgarh, 2017 SCC OnLine Chh 925, decided on 16.8.2017]

 

Case BriefsHigh Courts

Calcutta High Court: While deciding the instant appeal wherein the appellant was accused and convicted of sexually abusing a minor girl which is punishable under Section 8 of the Protection of Children from Sexual Offences (POCSO) Act, 2012, the Bench of Joymalya Bagchi, J., laid down directives to the investigating agencies, prosecutors and the Special Courts so that they follow the spirit of the provisions laid down in the POCSO Act and CrPC in order to preserve the fundamental right of dignity of a child victim and their other basic human rights. The Court laid special emphasis upon the protection of privacy (namely identity) of child sexual abuse victims during the course of investigations and trials. The directives are as follows:

  • Officer-in-Charge of the police station and the investigating officer in the case including the Special Juvenile Police Unit shall ensure that the identity of the victim is not disclosed in the course of investigation, particularly at the time of recording statement of the victim. The investigating agency shall not disclose the identity of the victim in any media and shall ensure that such identity is not disclosed in any manner whatsoever except the express permission of the Special Court in the interest of justice. It was further directed that the identity of the victim particularly his/her name, parentage, address or any other particulars that may reveal such identity shall not be disclosed in the judgment delivered by the Special Court unless, such disclosure of identity is in the interest of the child.

  • Police Officer or the Special Juvenile Police Unit receiving complaint as to commission or likelihood of commission of offence under the POCSO Act shall register the same and furnish a copy free of cost to the child and/or his/her parents.

  • If the child is unable to arrange for his/her legal representation, the child shall be referred to the District Legal Services Authority for necessary legal aid/representation under Section 40 of the POCSO Act.

  • The Police Officer on registration of FIR shall promptly forward the child for immediate emergency medical aid, whenever necessary, and/or for medical examination.

  • Trial of the case shall be held in camera and evidence of the victim shall be promptly recorded without unnecessary delay. The Special Court shall not permit any repetitive, aggressive or harassing questioning of the child particularly as to his/her character assassination, which may impair the dignity of the child during such examination.

  • The quantum of the compensation shall be fixed taking into consideration the loss and injury suffered by the victim and other related factors as laid down in Rule 7(3) of the POCSO Rules, 2012 and shall not be restricted to the minimum amounts prescribed in the Victim Compensation Fund.

  • The Special Courts to ensure that the trials under POCSO Act shall conclude as expeditiously as possible preferably within a year from taking cognizance of the offence and without granting unreasonable adjournment to the parties.

[Bijoy v. The State of West Bengal, 2017 SCC OnLine Cal 417, decided on 02.03.2017]