On Wednesday, 30th May, 2018, the Delhi High Court has held in Jabbar vs. State, that the Protection of Children from Sexual Offences (POCSO) Act, 2012 is a gender-neutral law and that every child under the age of 18 is covered under it.
In its recent judgement the Delhi High Court upheld the conviction of a man for sodomising a 6 year old boy and sentenced him to rigorous imprisonment of 15 years under POCSO Act.
The Bench comprising of Justice S.P. Garg and J. C. Hari Shankar stated that the POCSO Act does not discriminate between a male and a female child victim as sexual offences.
The Trial Court had convicted the Accused of committing an aggravated form of penetrative sexual assault on a six year old boy. The conviction has been made under section 6 of the POCSO Act.
The Trial Court convicted the Accused under Section 6 of the POCSO Act for committing an aggravated form of penetrative sexual assault on a 6 year old boy. The minimum punishment under section 6 of the POCSO Act is 10 years. The Court sentenced the Accused for 15 years of rigorous imprisonment as 10 years would be insufficient in the present case due to severity of the offense.
The Bench held that, “The jurisprudence that has developed, with respect to the testimonies of girl-victims, as witnesses would, therefore, apply, so far as the POCSO Act is concerned, mutatis mutandis to boy-victim.”
The Appellant Jabbar filed an Appeal at the Delhi High Court. The Court perused the evidence on record and confirmed the Trial Court findings on Jabbar’s conviction.
Delhi High Court further held that “The right to breathe free, in the open air, is a constitutional guarantee, preambly promised to every Indian denizen, and, for the citizenry of the country, stands sanctified by Article 21 of the Constitution of India. Permanent extinction of said right, for life, must, therefore, necessarily visit only the most hardened of offenders, in the most extreme cases. The ―quality of mercy‖, unstrained, must always temper the hard scales of the law, if a just balance is to be achieved”
Thus, the Court in its decision has reiterated the observations made by the Supreme Court in the PIL filed by advocate Alakh Alok Srivastava, demanding death penalty for child rapists, that the Court does not discriminate in the testimonies made by a boy or a girl under the POCSO Act, stating that the Act is gender neutral in nature.