With the number of children getting victimized of sexual abuse and assault from a very tender age in India, there has been a rise in cases filed under the Protection of Children from Sexual Offences Act (POCSO). On 3rd July, 2020, Delhi High Court, in the case of Rajender vs State held that pulling down the leggings of a child victim and touching of the thighs is evident of sexual intent and accordingly constitutes an offence of sexual assault.
The Prosecution had laid down before the Police and the Courts that when the accused came to know that the mother of the victim was not at home, he entered their home and pulled down the leggings of the girl child followed by rubbing his hand on her thighs. The victim had somehow managed to escape the house. The Accused had again entered the house but the child had asked him to leave. Later the victim informed her mother about the whole thing after which they informed the incident to Police. They asked the Court to find the accused guilty of the offence under Section 10 of the POCSO.
The accused stated that the entire complaint was an offshoot of a loan transaction between the Appellant and the mother. He contended that the Prosecution’s story was not believable. But the child victim, her brother and mother of the victim remained consistent in their respective statements. Since there was no material to show that there was ever any loan transaction between the Appellant and the family of the child victim and the Prosecution had managed to produce 8 witnesses which perused the testimonies of the children and their mother, the Court concluded that the testimony of the children was of sterling quality and the accused has constituted an offence of sexual assault in terms of Section 7 of POCSO Act. However, since the sexual assault was committed on a child below the age of 12, it would amount to aggravated sexual assault which is punishable under Section 10 of POCSO Act.
The accused then filed an appeal to the Delhi High Court where the Court found the trial court’s order well-reasoned and therefore the appeal was dismissed.
– Adv. Shivangi Prasad – Corporate Lawyer, External Member & Trainer, Head – Legal & Compliance, Partner POSH at Work & Vaishali Jain, Paralegal – POSH at Work