The Hon’ble Patna High Court while acquitting an accused under the Protection of Children from Sexual Offences Act, 2012 (hereinafter referred to as “POCSO Act, 2012”) observed that the evidence of prosecutrix’s approximate age cannot replace the proof of the person’s exact age.
In the instant case of Arjun who was the accused, was guilty of the offence of rape of a girl aged about 13 years. Arjun was convicted under Section 366A and Section 376 of the Indian Penal Code, 1860 (hereinafter referred to as “IPC, 1860”) and Section 4 of POCSO Act, 2012.
Subsequently, when the appeal was made, the Hon’ble High Court had the question to check if the prosecution had proved the girl is minor beyond reasonable doubts.
The Hon’ble Court observed that the prosecution claimed that the age of the girl was 13-14 years but the medical report revealed that the girl’s age was 15-16 years but the prosecution witness was not cross-examined and that there was no objection by the defence about the age of the prosecutrix.
The Hon’ble High court while passing the verdict in the instant matter referred to two other landmark judgments, Sunil versus. The state of Haryana, State of MP versus. Munna @Shambhoo Nath, In these cases, the Hon’ble Court observed that the approximate age cannot be considered as the evidence for the actual age.
In the case of Jarnail Singh versus. In the state of Haryana, the Hon’ble court held that the age of rape victim must be calculated according to Rule 12 of the Juvenile Justice (Care and Protection of Children) Rules, 2007.
Finally, the Hon’ble court observed that, as the prosecution has failed to prove the girl’s age is below 18, the consent of the girl was the only important evidence. Since the victim and the appellant were in a consensual conviction under section 376 of IPC, 1860 and Section 4 of the POCSO Act, 2012 of the accused fails. In addition to this, the Hon’ble Patna High Court admitted the appeal.