HC reduces life sentence in POCSO case, cites lack of justification for maximum penalty

12:40 PM Jun 24, 2024 | PTI |

The Karnataka High Court has reduced the sentence of an accused in a POCSO Act case from life imprisonment to 10 years, emphasising the need for valid reasons when imposing the maximum penalty.
The accused, a 27-year-old man from Chikkamagaluru, had his appeal partially allowed by a division bench consisting of Justices Sreenivas Harish Kumar and C M Joshi. However, the court increased his fine from Rs 5,000 to Rs 25,000.
The case involved the accused befriending and repeatedly sexually assaulting a minor girl in his neighborhood in June 2016. The girl’s mother filed a complaint in December 2016 after finding that her daughter was pregnant.
A DNA test confirmed the accused as the biological father. The police registered an FIR and filed a charge-sheet following their investigation.
On June 11, 2018, a special court in the district headquarters town of Chikkamagaluru sentenced the accused to life imprisonment under Section 6 of the POCSO Act and imposed a Rs 5,000 fine after finding him guilty of criminal intimidation.
The accused challenged the verdict in the High Court, arguing that the girl’s age had not been proven with proper documents.
The division bench, upon reviewing the case, noted that the oral testimony suggested the girl’s consent, although it was legally irrelevant given her actual age of 12 at the time of the incident.
The bench remarked that this indication of consent opposed the imposition of the maximum sentence under Section 6 of the POCSO Act.
It concluded that the special court had not provided sufficient reasons for imposing the maximum life sentence.
According to the law as it stood on the date of the crime, Section 6 of the POCSO Act allowed for a minimum sentence of 10 years’ rigorous imprisonment and a maximum of life imprisonment.
The court ruled that imposing the maximum sentence required valid reasons, which were absent in the special court’s judgment. Consequently, the court, in its recent order, modified the sentence to 10 years’ imprisonment.


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