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“This is my time to sing, dance and play. This is my time to be happy. This is my time. Give it back to me.”

Sikkim High Court: The above-quoted word of Bhaskar Raj Pradhan, J., set the undertone of this judgment delivered by him. The facts of the present case disturbed the judicial mind of the Court and persuaded it to direct the Registrar General to place the judgment and record of the case before the Chief Justice to consider taking up the issue on the judicial side.

The appellant had filed an appeal against the Judgment of the trial court whereby he was convicted for commission of an aggravated sexual assault on a hapless 7-year old minor child. The appellant was the victim’s uncle. Having found the case sufficiently proved beyond reasonable doubt by the evidence of the minor victim along with her two minor siblings, the High Court upheld his conviction.

What appeared from the facts of the case was that the mother of the children had left the home. The uncle who was called in to take care of them had been convicted for sexual assault. Not only this, their father too had been convicted for commission of an aggravated sexual assault on the minor victim. The children were staying in different NGOs. After noting that the Special Judge had directed the payment of Rs 1 lakh as compensation under Sikkim Compensation to Victims or his Dependents Scheme, 2011, the Court noted several disturbing questions that remained unanswered: “It is quite obvious that the minor victim and her two minor siblings are all lodged in different homes run by NGO’s. No relatives seem to have come forward to take care of them. The father stands convicted. The mother is nowhere around the children when they need her the most. How long do these children remain in such homes? Are these homes best equipped to take care of the “best interest” of these children? Do these children have any choice of a better alternative? What is the role and responsibility of the State towards these children – all victims of crime who have been subjected to such cruelty?”

“Is enough being done? How do we better this unhappy situation?” This was the thought which disturbed the judicial mind and persuaded Justice Bhaskar Raj Pradhan to pass the aforestated directions. [Krishna Bahadur Chettri v. State of Sikkim, 2019 SCC OnLine Sikk 22, dated 01-04-2019]