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Non-reporting of Sexual Assault against Minors Despite Knowledge A Serious Crime under POCSO Act: SC

By: Aishwarya Iyer

Edited By: Pathikrit Sen Gupta

LawBeat

Last Updated: November 04, 2022, 00:50 IST

New Delhi, India

Such exercise by the medical practitioner resulted in the miscarriage of justice, the Supreme Court said. File pic/News18

Such exercise by the medical practitioner resulted in the miscarriage of justice, the Supreme Court said. File pic/News18

The top court ordered a doctor to face trial for not reporting sexual exploitation of several minor tribal girls in a Maharashtra students' hostel

Non-reporting of sexual assault against a minor child despite knowledge is a serious crime, held the Supreme Court on Wednesday while further adding that such non-reporting is more often than not done in an attempt to shield the offenders of the crime.

A division bench of the SC made these observations while setting aside an order whereby the FIR and chargesheet filed against the accused medical practitioner were quashed.

The court held that the quashing of the stated FIR and the chargesheet throttled the prosecution at the threshold, without allowing the materials in support of it to see the light of day.

Such an action cannot be said to be an exercise done to secure the interests of justice whereas it can only be stated that such exercise resulted in the miscarriage of justice, held the bench of Justices Ajay Rastogi and CT Ravikumar.

At the very beginning, the court stated that it was not peeved, but certainly pained, as a legitimate prosecution under the Protection of Children from Sexual Offences Act, 2012 (POCSO Act), was throttled at the threshold by the exercise of power under Section 482 of the Code of Criminal Procedure, 1973.

In the case before the court, minor tribal girls, who were students of Infant Jesus English Public High School, Rajura, and living in its girls’ hostel, were being sexually assaulted.

The superintendent of the hostel and four others were arrested and arraigned as accused in the crime. During the investigation, it was found that the medical practitioner appointed for the treatment of the girls admitted to the hostel had knowledge about the incidents from the victims themselves as the girls revealed in their statements recorded under Section 161 of CrPC.

The medical practitioner, who was under a legal obligation in terms of the provisions under Section 19(1) of the POCSO Act upon getting the knowledge about committing of an offence under this law to provide such information either to the Special Juvenile Police Unit or the local police, remained silent and did not provide such information to help the accused, is the gist of the allegation against him, the court noted.

The SC was further of the opinion that the legal obligation for reporting of an offence under the POCSO Act is cast upon a person to inform the relevant authorities specified thereunder when he/she has knowledge that an offence under the Act had been committed, in order to ensure that such offenders are not spared and should be properly booked.

“…such provisions are included in with a view to ensure strict compliance of the provisions under the POCSO Act and thereby to ensure that the tender age of children is not being abused and their childhood and youth is protected against exploitation…" the bench also noted.

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first published:November 04, 2022, 00:50 IST
last updated:November 04, 2022, 00:50 IST
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