Calcutta High Court: A single-judge bench comprising of Bibhas Ranjan De,* J., upheld the appellant’s conviction under Section 10 of the Protection of Children from Sexual Offence Act, 2012 (POCSO Act) based on the consistent and credible testimony of the victim, along with supporting medical evidence and the absence of substantial evidence to support the appellant’s claims of insanity or poor vision. The appellant was directed to surrender to serve his sentence.
The instant matter involves an appeal against the judgment and order dated 07-05-2022 passed by the Additional Sessions Judge, Special Court under the POCSO Act where appellant/accused was found guilty of committing an offense under Section 10 of the POCSO Act and was sentenced to five years of rigorous imprisonment and a fine of Rs. 5000/- with a further six months of simple imprisonment in case of default.
The incident occurred on 28-02-2020, when the appellant forcibly raped a student of class 3 in a school before classes began. The victim raised an alarm, and the appellant fled the school. The victim’s grandfather filed a complaint with the police.
A case was registered under Section 376-AB of the Penal Code, 1860 (IPC) read with Section 6 of the POCSO Act based on the complaint. The investigation was conducted, including statements from witnesses and the victim, a medical examination, and the collection of evidence. The accused was charged under Section 376-AB of IPC read with Section 6 of the POCSO Act.
During the trial, 22 witnesses were examined, including the victim, family members, teachers, medical personnel, and police officers. The accused, during his examination under Section 313 of the CrPC, pleaded not guilty and claimed false implication. The trial court found the appellant guilty based on the victim’s testimony and sentenced him as mentioned.
The appellant’s contended that the prosecution’s case lacked support from school staff and other students who were not examined during the investigation. The appellant also raised concerns about the non-examination of a friend who had entered the room after hearing the victim’s cries. The appellant further raised the issue of the appellant’s alleged insanity and poor vision, citing doctor’s reports.
The State contended that the victim’s testimony was consistent and corroborated by her statement recorded under Section 164 of the CrPC and a medical examination. It was pointed out that the appellant’s responses during the examination under Section 313 CrPC indicated alertness. The prosecution claimed that the offense under Section 9 of the POCSO Act had been proven beyond reasonable doubt.
The Court observed that the sole testimony of the victim, a child witness, could be relied upon in cases of sexual assault, provided her evidence was trustworthy, unblemished, and of sterling quality. The Court noted that there were no material discrepancies between the victim’s testimony and her statement recorded under Section 164 CrPC regarding the manner of the sexual assault.
While there were some lapses in the investigation, such as the failure to examine the friend who entered the room, the Court ruled that these did not undermine the entirety of the prosecution’s case. It held that the victim’s consistent evidence, supported by her parents and medical professionals, was sufficient to establish the accused’s guilt.
The Court rejected the defense’s plea of insanity and poor vision, as there was no substantial evidence to support these claims. The medical report and the doctor’s testimony did not indicate any mental instability or vision impairment at the time of the incident.
The Court upheld the conviction and dismissed the appeal. The Court directed the appellant/accused to surrender before the Trial Court to serve the imposed sentence.
[Animesh Biswas v. State of W.B., C.R.A. (SB) 167 of 2022, order dated 05-09-2023]
*Judgment by Justice Bibhas Ranjan De
Advocates who appeared in this case :
Mr. Mit Guha, Mr. Sayan Kanjilal, Counsel for the Appellant
Mr. Saswata Gopal Mukherjee, Ld. PP Mr. Saryati Datta, Mr. Sandip Chakrabarty, Counsel for the Respondent/State
Ms. Sreyashee Biswas, Counsel for the de facto complainant/victim