POCSO  Act ( Protection of Children from Sexual Offences Act)

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Rajesh Kumar Pandey

 

Allahabad:  Hearing a bail application, the Allahabad High Court has directed that in the cases of  POCSO  Act ( Protection of Children from Sexual Offences Act) the police authorities/investigation officers must ensure that  a medical report determining the victim’s age is drawn up at the outset  and the same is submitted to the court without any delay.

Directing for mandatory medical report, Justice Ajay Bhanot observed , “This court has been finding that in  large number of cases the age of the victim set out in the prosecution case is often at variance with the age determined by the expert medical boards in accordance with the latest medical protocols. At times there are multiple contradictions in age related documents available with the prosecution. Numerous cases of false implication and abuse of POCSO Act have also been noticed. Runaway couples of young age are criminalized in the process.”

 

In the instant case as in a large number of bail applications under the POCSO Act, issues relating to the age of the victims having serious consequences on the life and liberty of accused persons arise for consideration.

It was the case of the accused that the victim was wrongly shown as a minor of 16 years in the FIR only to falsely implicate the applicant under the stringent provisions of the POCSO Act.

The Court noted that in the instant case, the medical examination to determine the victim’s age was not conducted at the time of the applicant’s arrest. Instead, the report was prepared later, revealing the victim’s age to be 17 years old.

Against this backdrop, while granting bail to the accused, the court took note of several instances of multiple contradictions within age-related documents provided by the prosecution.    The court further said that the discrepancies in the victim’s age in POCSO cases can substantially affect the rights and liberties of the accused.

“False depiction of a victim as a minor in POCSO Act cases is an abuse of the process of court.” court added.

In numerous cases, the age determined by the Medical Board contradicted the minority of the victim set up in the prosecution case.

Justice Bhanot further observed, “This court is finding that in many instances the accused- applicants have argued that medical determination of the victim’s age was not carried out deliberately as it would establish the majority of the victim and repudiate the prosecution case. By falsely depicting the victim as a minor accused persons are wrongly implicated under the stringent regime of the POCSO Act only to cause their indefinite imprisonment. ”

 

Against these backdrop the court issued following directions:

  1. The police authorities/investigation officers shall ensure that in every POCSO Act offence, a medical report determining the victim’s age shall be drawn up at the outset under Section 164A of the Criminal Procedure Code read with Section 27 of the Protection of Children from Sexual Offences Act, 2012. The report may be dispensed with if medical opinion advises against it in the interests of the victim’s health.
  2. The medical report determining the age of the victim shall be created as per established procedure of law and in adherence to latest scientific parameters and medical 11 protocol.
  3. The medical report determining the age of the victim shall be submitted under Section 164-A of the Code of Criminal Procedure to the court without delay.
  4. The Director General (Health), Government of Uttar Pradesh, Lucknow shall also ensure that the doctors who comprise the Medical Board are duly trained and follow the established medical protocol and scientific parameters for determining the age of the victims in such cases. Constant research shall be done in this field to keep the reports in line with the latest scientific developments.

 

The court in its decision dated April 16 also directed that a copy of its order be communicated by the Government Advocate to the Director General of Police, Uttar Pradesh for compliance and Director General (Health), Government of Uttar Pradesh.

One  Aman alia Vansh has moved the court for bail in Case Crime No.419 of 2023 at Police Station-Shalimar Garden, District-Ghaziabad under Sections 363, 376 IPC ( kidnapping and rape)  and Sections 3/4 of POCSO Act. The applicant was in jail since December 5, 2023.

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