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]