Tripura High Court: Arindam Lodh, J. partly allowed an appeal which was filed challenging the judgment of conviction and order of sentence passed by Special POCSO judge wherein the appellant had been convicted under Section 10 of the POCSO Act, 2012 and sentenced to suffer rigorous imprisonment for 5 years and to pay a fine of Rs 20,000/- with default stipulation and further convicted under Section 451 IPC and sentenced him to suffer simple imprisonment for 6 months and to pay fine of Rs. 5000 with default stipulation.

The mother of the victim girl in her complaint had stated that when she and her husband were outside their home, then, at around 2.00-2:30 p.m. the appellant had entered into the room where her girl was staying, locked the door and embraced her daughter and touched her private parts. Upon completion of investigation, the investigating officer submitted charge-sheet under Sections 448/342/354 IPC and section 8 of the POCSO Act against the accused. After completion of recording of evidences and having heard the counsel appearing for the parties, the Special Judge had convicted and sentenced the accused, as stated here-in-above.

Mr Deb, counsel appearing for the appellant (accused) submitted that there were substantial contradictions in the statement of the prosecution witnesses. He further tried to persuade the Court that the attendance register aptly proves that the accused was not present at the scene of occurrence on that date and time. He further drew attention of this court to the improved and exaggerations made by the victim girl and her mother in their statements.

The Court noted that accused was working as a Contingent worker in ONGC and the attendance register showed his attendance in the office on that date but, there was no such evidence that for any point of time he had any scope to go outside his office. Except production of attendance register there was no evidence to show that the accused was all along present in the office and did not go out. The house of the victim appeared to be close to the office where the accused discharged his duties. So, the plea of alibi as taken by the accused, according to this court, was found to be deficient.

The Court was at a loss to understand as to why the victim will be disbelieved when there was no interest to implicate the accused with a false case. Prosecution witnesses had categorically stated that they had seen the accused person on that fateful date and time and they found the victim crying, and narrated the incident to them. The Court herein had to decide the degree of offence.

The Court noticed that victim had not stated in her statement recorded under Section 164(5) Cr.P.C. that the accused had touched her private parts. She only had stated that the accused had embraced her and her deposition before the court that accused had touched her breasts and other private parts were found to be improved versions.

The Court in this situation opined that offence committed by the accused should not fall under the Section 10 of the Protection of Children from Sexual Offences (for short, POCSO) Act but may come within the purview of section 12 of the POCSO Act.

Thus, the conviction as returned by Special Judge was not interfered with however the sentence was reduced to a period of 6 (six) months with a fine of Rs. 50,000/- considering the prayer of the counsel of the appellant that he was aged about 70 (seventy) years and considering the nature of offence and the age of the accused-appellant, the appropriate sentence should be punishment for 6 (six) months.[Pramode Nama v. State of Tripura, 2022 SCC OnLine Tri 165, decided on 28-03-2022]

For the Appellant(s) : Mr B. Deb

For the Respondent(s) : Mr S. Ghosh

Suchita Shukla, Editorial Assistant has reported this brief.

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