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HC reduces convict’s life term to 10 yrs in POCSO case

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SHILLONG, April 26: The High Court of Meghalaya on Friday modified the conviction and sentence passed by the Special Judge (POCSO), District and Sessions Court, Shillong against an appellant and reduced the conviction to 10 years instead of life imprisonment.
The appellant had approached the high court to contest the order of sentence dated 20.12.2021, passed by the Special Judge (POCSO), District and Sessions Court, Shillong.
The case dates back to April 5, 2013, when a man filed a complaint at Madanrting police station that his daughter, aged 14 years, was found missing the previous day. With the help of the mobile number provided by the complainant, the victim girl was secured along with the accused from Agartala, Tripura.
Based on the complaint and after investigation, a charge-sheet was filed against the accused on May 13, 2014, and the Court of Chief Judicial Magistrate committed the case for trial to the Special Judge (POCSO), who framed the charges against the accused.
The prosecution, in order to substantiate the commission of the offence against the accused, has examined as many as nine witnesses and marked six documents.
The POCSO Court, after analysing the evidence let in by the prosecution, found the accused guilty of the offence and convicted him to life imprisonment.
In the course of the hearing in the high court on a criminal appeal filed by the appellant, the counsel for the appellant submitted that it is a case of love affair and the victim girl, on her own volition, had left the house and married the accused.
The counsel also argued that there is no concrete evidence as to the age of the victim girl and the evidence of the doctor in respect of assessment of her age was inconsistent, as no birth certificate or any other documents had been produced on the side of the prosecution to prove the age of the victim girl.
According to the appellant, the age of the victim girl would be more than 17 years. The counsel for the appellant further submitted that though initially the case was registered under Section 366A IPC, subsequently, Section 4 of the POCSO Act, 2012 was included, while framing charges and in the absence of such inclusion, the accused could have been acquitted from the charges.
The counsel also submitted that the accused and the victim girl got married in a temple and the victim girl looked as if her age was between 19 and 20 years.
The Additional Advocate-General appearing for the state contended that both the victim girl and the accused loved each other and left their home. After the marriage, they had sexual intercourse, which had culminated into registration of FIR under POCSO Act, 2012.
Taking into consideration the entire facts and circumstances of the case, the high court was of the view that interests of justice will be served, if the life imprisonment imposed under Section 4 of the POCSO Act, 2012 that has been awarded on the appellant is reduced to 10 years.
Before parting with the judgment, the high court emphasised that it is a case involving love affair and unfortunately, the male member has been made as a scapegoat to undergo imprisonment for the mistakes/abetment committed by the two.
“While the so-called victim girl is leading a happy life, the accused/appellant has been undergoing incarceration and there is no provision under the Act to pardon a person, who has committed the offence out of ignorance. At the young age both had lust and infatuation,” the court added.

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