Separate sentences under Ss. 354/354-A and 451 IPC are not called for, where accused is also convicted under S. 10 POCSO

Delhi High Court: A Single Judge Bench of the Delhi High Court comprising of S.P. Garg, J., disposed of a criminal appeal which challenged a judgment by which, the appellant was held guilty for committing the offences punishable under Sections 354/354A/451 IPC and Section 10 POCSO Act. The appellant, under the conviction, was awarded various prison terms with fine.

The prosecution case was that the appellant had made non-consensual physical contact with the prosecutrix and had outraged her modesty at her house. The prosecutrix was aged around 9 years. The prosecutrix gave a vivid description of the incident in the complaint, implicating the appellant as the perpetrator. In the trial, eight witnesses were examined to establish the prosecution’s case. On the other hand, defence produced no evidence.

The extensive cross-examination, the prosecutrix was subjected to, uncovered no inconsistencies in her testimony. She was consistent throughout at different stages of investigation and trial. She proved the version given before the police as well as before the learned presiding officer without any material variation. No ulterior motive could be assigned to the prosecutrix in implicating the appellant. Under Section 313 CrPC, the appellant came with the plea for the first time that he had borrowed Rs 5,000 from the victim’s father and upon defaulting, the victim’s father had demanded Rs. 10,000 and upon failing to pay this money, he was falsely implicated.

The Court noted that evidence was put forward as to when and for what purpose the appellant had borrowed the money. Further, it was held to be highly unbelievable that for a sum of Rs. 5000, the victim’s father would demand Rs. 10,000 from the appellant, much less have his daughter subjected to negativity associated with such a serious issue. The appellant, further, did not deny his presence at the spot, nor did he deny his visits to the victim’s house. The Court found no reason to set aside the conviction.

However, regarding the sentence order, the Court noted that the appellant had been sentenced under POCSO Act as well as IPC for various offences, the ingredients of which were almost identical. Maximum sentence under Section 10 of the POCSO Act had been awarded. Hence, sentences under Sections 354.354A and 451 IPC were set aside. Appeal disposed of. [Vinay v. State (NCT of Delhi), 2018 SCC OnLine Del 7257, decided on 16.2.2018]

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