In the matter of Prafulla Kumar Sahu v. State of NCT of Delhi, the Delhi High Court on 18th August 2021, rejected the bail application of the Petitioner (Prafulla Kumar) before the charges are framed and the Prosecutrix is examined as it would defeat the very intent of the POCSO Act.
The Petitioner provided Basketball coaching to the Prosecutrix. She has stated in her complaint that one day the Petitioner sexually assaulted her after the warm-up. The Prosecutrix felt uncomfortable and asked him to stop. She later narrated the said incident to her parents and an FIR was registered for offences punishable under Section 354-B IPC and Section 10 of the POCSO Act.
The Petitioner submits that there was a delay of 12 hours in the filing of the FIR and the arrest of the Petitioner was contrary to the directions laid down by the Apex Court in Arnesh Kumar v. State of Bihar, as he was taken to the police station without any notice/summons/intimations. The Petitioner contends that he falls within the category of high-risk persons who are vulnerable to getting infected with the COVID-19 virus. The arrest worsening his health, has resulted in him receiving medical treatment in the custody.
The Petitioner submits that an application contending that the petitioner was covered under the High-Powered Committee (HPC) guidelines and that despite being eligible, the Sessions Court rejected his interim bail application. He further contends that the allegations recorded in the FIR and the charge-sheet are false, frivolous and a figment of the Prosecutrix’s imagination as the witnesses present have not concurred with the Prosecutrix.
The Prosecutrix submits that there is a high chance of the Prosecutrix being influenced or the matter getting delayed as the there is a fiduciary relationship between the parties. Further, at the time of registering the FIR, the Prosecutrix and her family were approached and asked not to take legal action.
The High Court observed:
- The Petitioner was in a fiduciary relationship with the Prosecutrix as he was her coach and was also known to her parents.
- The betrayal of trust at an early stage of life may inhibit the child from developing healthy interpersonal relationships in the future.
- There is no reason why Prosecutrix would levy false allegations.
- The Prosecutrix is in 9th standard, and she is capable of differentiating between conduct that may be inadvertent and conduct that may be deliberate.
- The Court rejected the bail application of the Petitioner before the charges are framed and the Prosecutrix is examined as it would defeat the very intent of the POCSO Act.
- Paramount consideration is to be given to the well-being of the child whose mental psyche is vulnerable, impressionable and in a developing stage.
- Sexual assault or sexual harassment has the potential to cause mental trauma to the child and may dictate their thought process for the years to come.
– Esha Shah, Paralegal – POSH at Work