‘Male member made scapegoat for mistake of both’; Meghalaya HC upholds conviction under POCSO, mitigates life sentence to 10 yrs imprisonment

Meghalaya High Court

Meghalaya High Court: In a criminal appeal filed against the judgment and order of sentence, passed by the Special Judge (POCSO), District and Sessions Court, Shillong, imposing life imprisonment sentence on the present convict for offence under Section 4 of Protection of Children from Sexual Offenders Act, 2012 (POCSO), the Division Bench of S. Vaidyanathan* CJ, and W. Diengdoh, J. modified the convict’s sentence to ten years of imprisonment and imposed a fine of Rs 10,000.


A missing complaint was filed by the minor victim girl’s father on 05-04-2013 alleging that his daughter aged 14 years was missing on 04-04-2013. The minor victim girl and convict were located in Tripura with the help of a provided mobile number. A case was registered against the accused under Section 366-A of the Penal Code, 1860 (‘IPC’). Charges were framed under Section 4 of the POCSO Act and Section 366-A IPC. The convict was found guilty under Section 6 of the POCSO Act by the Trial Court, sentenced to undergo life imprisonment and to pay a fine of Rs.10,000, and undergo imprisonment for ten years under Section 366-A of the IPC and to pay a fine of Rs.10,000 in default to undergo imprisonment for one month for each default.

The convict’s case was that the relationship between him and the minor victim was consensual and that she willingly left her home to marry the convict in a temple ceremony. They also highlighted inconsistencies in the medical assessment of the victim’s age and the lack of documentary evidence such as a birth certificate to conclusively prove her age.

Analysis and Decision

The Court said that the minor victim’s consent was irrelevant due to her age, confirmed through school records to be 14 at the time of the incident. However, the Court clarified that at the most, it can be considered as a mitigating factor, while deciding the question of sentence.

Regarding the question of sexual assault, the Court noted that the medical reports indicated a torn hymen, which pointed towards sexual penetration.

On the contention that the minor victim girl’s father had withdrawn the complaint, the Court said that once an FIR is registered, the matter escalates to a crime against the State which renders the withdrawal of the complaint irrelevant to the proceedings. Further, the Court added that withdrawal of the complaint cannot be a ground to plead that the convict is entitled for acquittal, as the Court may not be aware of the circumstances leading to the withdrawal of the complaint. However, the Court considered the possibility of reducing the sentence by taking into account the victim’s current marital status and the nature of their past relationship.

Therefore, the Court stated that it was purely a case of love affairs and nowhere, the minor victim girl deposed that it was the convict, who forcibly took her to Tripura and committed sexual assault, so as to attract Section 4 of the POCSO Act, and she has also conceded that she is married now and happily living in Bihar with two children. The Court reiterated that the Trial Court should not be mechanical in imposition of the punishment and must the totality of circumstances coupled with the material evidence must be considered before imposing the maximum punishment prescribed under the Act.

Thus, in the interest of justice, the Court directed to modify the life sentence imposed by the Trial Court for offence under Section 4 of the Act to ten years of imprisonment by acknowledging both the gravity of the offense and the mitigating circumstances surrounding the case. The order of sentence imposed under Section 366-A of IPC was confirmed.

[Rinku Kumar Tyagi v. State of Meghalaya, 2024 SCC OnLine Megh 308, Decided on: 26-04-2024]

*Judgement authored by- Justice S. Vaidyanathan

Advocates who appeared in this case :

For the appellant: Advocate S. Nongsiej

For the respondent: AAG K. Khan, Additional Public Prosecutor S. Sengupta, Adv. J. N. Rynjah

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