The Madras High Court recently noted that a young victim of sexual assault cannot be expected to retell the incident like a parrot, after convicting a school teacher under the Protection of Children from Sexual Offences (POCSO) Act for the sexual assault of a four-year-old child.
The Court made the remark in response to charges that the victims’ accounts differed and that the youngster had been tutored by her mother. In the instance at hand, the Court emphasized that the victim would not have been able to speak about the incident in the “parrot version” because she at the time was only four or five years old.
“The victim child was only four years old, and she may not know what is happening to her or whether the respondent’s act is good or bad, and in that situation, the Court cannot expect the victim child to speak about the occurrence in all stages in a parrot version,” the Court said. Justice P Velmurugan was dealing with a case in which a teacher was accused of forcing a UKG student onto his lap and molesting her, including by inserting his finger into her private parts.
While her mother was bathing her, the child talked about the sexual attack. According to the Court’s order, as the mother was cleaning the child’s private parts, the child shouted out, “why are you torturing me by keeping your hand there and in the school, and the teacher is doing the same?” The teacher was acquitted after the trial court determined that the child victim’s and her parents’ accounts were inconsistent, cogent, and trustworthy and that there was no medical proof to back up the charges.
The Judge went on to say that the perpetrators in sexual assault cases frequently escape owing to technical issues and that the investigative wing is also inadequate. The court stated that “Most of the time, the perpetrators are able to fly due to a deficiency in the investigation or a failure in the inquiry. As a result, technicalities should not be permitted to obstruct the administration of justice”.
Even trial courts, the Court observed, do not always apply their minds in such instances when looking for “evidence beyond all reasonable doubt.” “However, in circumstances like this, we cannot place a high value on the technical basis of proof. In this case, the victim is a child under the age of five, and she is unable to speak out against the charges of crimes or atrocities. In such circumstances, the mother has spoken, and no corroboration can be expected because the perpetrator cannot escape the clutches of the law due to the victim’s inability.” High Court said
High Court after factoring in the following aspect overturns the acquittal of the accused school teacher:
• It cannot be expected that the child of four years to speak about the incident to her parents as she won’t understand what was happening to her.
• The victim even spoke of the incident and her activities were not to be stated normally. The court stated that she used to cry saying she felt burning in her vagina waking up from sleep.
• Even if there is an exaggeration of events by the victim’s mother, but it cannot be concluded that the case was made up by her mother. This can be because of anxiety. There is no point a mother can make allegations of this nature using her own child.
• In such circumstances, a delay in filing the case is not fatal. No mother would hurry to the police station as soon as the incident occurred. The mother would naturally consider the child’s future and the family’s reputation, according to the Court.
• The Court dismissed claims that the youngster was tutored by her mother, stating that the mother may have just explained to the girl what she did not understand or forget.
The accused had also failed to refute the assumption of guilt, as required by Section 29 of the POCSO Act, according to the Court. As a result, the Court granted the appeal and reversed the accused’s acquittal.
“The victim child has every right to a dignified life and to the protections afforded by the constitution. As a result, the victim child’s testimony cannot be dismissed for the grounds indicated by the trial court “The Court emphasized this point.