New Delhi: The Supreme Court on Friday ruled that a mentally infirm rape victim cannot be considered a 'child' under the law.
A bench of Justices Dipak Misra and Rohinton F Nariman held that the provisions of the 2012 the Protection of Children from Sexual Offences (POCSO) Act could not be interpreted to include the 'mental age' of such victims.
According to the bench, biological age and not the mental age will be the determinative factor.
While reading out the concurrent verdict, the judges observed that despite their utmost attempts, they could not find a way to interfere with the legal provisions.
POCSO defines a 'child' as a person less than 18 years of age.
The court was called upon to rule on the issue after a petition was filed by the mother of a rape victim whose biological age is 40 but the mental age is six. The bench was to decide on whether such a person is a 'child’ under the POCSO Act.
The petition was moved by the 61 year old Delhi-based doctor, whose daughter with cerebral palsy was raped by a man in the year 2010.
The petition, argued by advocate Aishwarya Bhati, said that due to the impact of the gruesome incident, the victim's mental capacity further reduced to that of a three-year old child, which made recording of her statement before a magistrate extremely difficult.
Even as it expressed inability to interpret the law as pressed, the court said that the legal services authority will ensure that the victim is provided maximum compensation.