Conviction under POCSO Act upheld on appellant’s failure to rebut presumption of ‘culpable mental state’

Sikkim High Court: A Single Judge Bench comprising of Meenakshi Madan Rai, Acting CJ, dismissed a criminal appeal filed against the judgment of the trial court convicting the appellant under Section 4 of the Protection of Children from Sexual Offences Act, 2012.

Allegations against the appellant were that he had committed an offence of penetrative sexual assault on the victim – a 15 year old girl. He was convicted by the trial court and sentenced to 9 years of imprisonment. The appellant assailed the said judgment contending that the evidence produced by the prosecution was full of contradictions. It was also submitted that the testimony of the victim was also questionable.

The High Court heard the submissions made on behalf of the appellant and was of the view that no ground for interference with the judgment impugned was made out. The testimony of the victim had to be considered in light of her age and the level of her education and understanding. Submissions questioning other evidence on record were also rejected holding that minor contradictions in the evidence have no bearing on the prosecution case. Moreover, the Court referred to Section 29 of POCSO Act which raises a presumption, of commission of certain offences mentioned therein, against the accused. Further, Section 30 was perused and it was observed that the appellant had failed in the opportunity extended to him under the said section to rebut the presumption of culpable mental state which arose under Section 29. Consequently, the judgment impugned was upheld and the appeal was dismissed. [Tanam Limboo v. State of Sikkim,2018 SCC OnLine Sikk 149, dated 02-08-2018]

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