Case BriefsHigh Courts

Gujarat High Court: A Single Judge Bench comprising of S.H. Vora, J. allowed the condonation of delay as the sufficient cause stands justified.

The petitioner has filed an application under Section 5 of the Limitation Act, 1963 for condonation of delay of 350 days caused in filing the criminal appeal against the judgment passed in the POCSO Act.

The Court observed, the words “Sufficient cause for not making application within the period of limitation” should be applied in a reasonable and liberal manner depending upon the facts and circumstances of the case following which substantial justice shall be advanced when the delay has not been due to the negligence on the part of the applicant. In nutshell, the decisive factor for condonation of delay is not the length of delay but sufficiency and satisfactory explanation.

Thus there was nothing on record which could deprive substantial justice to the applicant by way of statutory appeal as the explanation for delay does not smack mala fide as a resultant the condonation was allowed. [Dineshbhai Rameshbhai Minama v. State of Gujarat, 2018 SCC OnLine Guj 2610, Order dated 01-10-2018]

Case BriefsHigh Courts

Delhi High Court: While hearing an appeal against conviction, the Division Bench of Gita Mittal, R.K. Guba, JJ. , issued detailed directions on framing of charges, compensation to victims, and exercise of jurisdiction by Judicial Officers in relation to the Protection of Children from Sexual Offences Act, 2012. In the instant case, the appellant was convicted for the offences punishable under Sections 354,  376, and 506 of IPC, and Section 4 of POCSO Act for assaulting and committing rape with his 14 years’ old step-daughter, making her pregnant with his child and subjecting her to criminal intimidation. He was directed to undergo rigorous life imprisonment under Section 376 IPC and Section 6 of POCSO Act; and rigorous imprisonment for a term of 5 and 7 years under Section 354 and Section 506 IPC respectively. Also, a compensation of Rs. 13 lakhs under Section 33(8) of POCSO Act read with Rule 7(2) of POCSO Rules and a compensation of Rs. 2 lakhs under Section 357-A CrPC read with Rule 7(3) and (4) of the POCSO Rules, were also directed to be paid.

The Court noted that the trial court has erred in charging the appellant with Section 4 of POCSO Act and Section 354 IPC when he was liable to be charged with graver offences punishable under Section 6 and Section 8 of POCSO Act respectively. Also, the appellant was neither tried nor convicted for the offence punishable under Section 6 of POCSO Act, yet he was illegally awarded punishment for same. The trial court also erred in sentencing the appellant under both Section 376 IPC and Section 6, POCSO, since a person cannot be punished twice for the same set of acts which collectively constitute an offence under two different provisions of law. Also, since the life imprisonment under Section 376(2) IPC means imprisonment for the remainder of convict’s life, trial court’s direction to run imprisonments under Section 354 and 506 IPC consecutively was redundant.

The Court further noted Rule 7(3) and (4) only provide guidance for ascertaining what can be recommended as compensation under Rule 7(2) read with Section 33(8) of POCSO. Thus, separate awards of compensation by trial Judge were not correct application of law. The Court also vacated the award of Rs. 13 lakhs, contending that no inquiry was made to arrive at the figure, and no arrangement was made for the recovery of the amount. However, it enhanced the compensation awarded under Section 375A CrPC from Rs. 2 lakhs to Rs. 3 lakhs. The Court also directed the trial courts to ensure that the identity of the victim, in cases involving sexual offences, is not disclosed anywhere on judicial record, and victims shall be referred by pseudonyms. [Gyan Prasad Pal v. State, Criminal Appeal No. 538 of 2016, decided on December 09, 2016]

Case BriefsHigh Courts

Bombay High Court: Delivering its judgement regarding the grant of bail to an accussed alleged of committing the crime of trafficking, who acted in accordance which Section 34  IPC  leading to the commission of grave offences like penetrative sexual assault and harassment under the POCSO Act, the Bench of  Sadhana S. Jadhav, J. held that in these circumstances the accused does not deserve to be released on bail.

The case involved an applicant who was alleged to be an agent for trafficking a minor girl for certain amount under the garb of marriage to another man with whom the minor also gave birth to two children. She was sexually abused and wasn’t given the status of a wife. She was later abandoned by the man. The applicant in this case sought to be granted bail.

On analysing the facts and circumstances of the case, keeping in view the commission of trafficking and other non-bailable and cognizable offences under the POCSO Act for which the punishment may extend to imprisonment for life, this Court rejected the application and held that in such circumstances, bail cannot be granted. [Lonkaran Chothmalji Parmar v. State of Maharashtra, 2016 SCC OnLine Bom 9851, 28.11.2016]

Case BriefsHigh Courts

High Court of Kerala : Observing the allegations of offences punishable under Section 354-A of the  Penal Code, 1860 and Sections 7 and 8 of the Protection of Children from Sexual Offences Act, 2012 against the petitioner, the Bench comprising of Sunil Thomas, J., quashing the criminal proceeding observed that since the dispute between the parties has been resolved and they have agreed to settle hence the allegation including sexual assault on a minor woman and under the provisions of POCSO Act, stands dismissed.

The respondent filed a complaint against the petitioner on ground that he had touched his 15-year-old minor daughter with a malafide intention and  thereby  outraged her modesty on the basis of which investigation was initiated and was progressing. However, the petitioner approached the Court stating that disputes between the parties have been resolved and parents of the victim have agreed to settle the disputes and have also submitted an affidavit for the same that discloses a fair and genuine intention of the parties.

The Court observed that continuance of the proceedings will not be in the interest of parties concerned and quashed the complaint against the petitioner/accused. Further, the Court stated that since the allegations against the petitioner accused involved sexual assault on a minor woman and some provisions of the POCSO Act hence, whether the incident happened accidentally or whether it was done intentionally is a highly disputed question of fact. [Sajith S. v. State of Kerala, Crl.MC.No. 7251 of 2016, decided on  7.11.2016]