Bombay High Court: Vinay Joshi, J., altered the conviction for rape and penetrative sexual assault to an act of aggravated form of sexual assault punishable under Section 10 of the POCSO Act in light of touching the breast of the child.
Appellant aged 67 years was convicted under Sections 376 and 450 of the Penal Code, 1860 and Sections 4 and 6 of the Protection of Children from Sexual Offences Act, 2012 (POCSO).
Accused was acquitted from the charge of committing offence punishable under Section 377 IPC. Accused challenged the conviction in the instant appeal.
Informant was residing along with his family members, including his daughter/victim girl aged 8 years. Two sons of the informant had been to their school and the minor victim was alone at the house as she was ill. In the afternoon the informant returned to his house for lunch and found that the house was locked from within, therefore, he peeped from the window and saw that appellant by lifting frock of the victim was moving his hand on her neck, cheek and chest.
Later, the informant shouted to open the door and hurriedly left the place. Victim disclosed that the accused moved his hand on her body, kissed her as well as put his finger in his anal part.
In regard to the above reference, informant lodged a report against the said incident.
Special Judge framed charge under relevant provisions of IPC and POCSO Act further on the appreciation of evidence held that the prosecution succeeded in proving the offence punishable under Sections 376 and 450 IPC, Sections 4 and 6 of the POCSO Act.
The prosecution case, in short, is about rape and aggravated penetrative sexual assault by the accused on a minor victim aged 8 years.
Analysis and Decision
Bench stated that the act of accused of touching the breast of the victim with sexual intent amounts to an aggravated form of sexual assault, which is punishable under Section 10 of the POCSO Act.
Since the medical evidence nowhere supported that there was insertion or penetration of finger into the anal region, it is doubtful whether the accused penetrated his finger into the anal region of the victim.
If two view emerges from the situation, the view favourable to the accused would take precedence. On mere assumption or possibility, the accused cannot be convicted.
All the sexual assaults on children below 12 years amount to an aggravated form of sexual assault.
With regard to the age of the accused, which is near about 70 years, the imprisonment of 5 years would meet the ends of justice. From the set of circumstances laid down, it is clear that the house-trespass was merely in order to commit an offence punishable with imprisonment, which is punishable under Section 451 of the Penal Code, 1860.
In view of the above, criminal appeal as partly allowed.
Conviction under Section 376 of IPC and Sections 4 and 6 of the POCSO Act, is hereby quashed and set aside, instead the accused was convicted for the offence punishable under Section 10 of the POCSO Act and.
Further, instead of conviction under Section 450 IPC, the appellant is convicted for the offence punishable under Section 451 of the IPC.
Hence appellant will be entitled to set off under Section 428 of the CrPC. [Tukaram Ashruji Khandare v. State of Maharashtra, 2020 SCC OnLine Bom 2802, decided on 22-10-2020]
Advocate for the appellant, R.V. Gahilot and H.R. Dhumale, A.P.P. for the respondent.