Pulling a girl's clothes, touching her shoulder conveys sexual intent: MP HC
When an appellant challenged his three-year POCSCO Act conviction in Madhya Pradesh high court, it upheld the verdict, emphasising sexual intent
Madhya Pradesh High Court has upheld a district court’s order to prosecute a man under the Protection of Children from Sexual Offences (POCSO) Act, asserting that a man pulling the clothes of a girl and putting his hand on her shoulder shows his sexual intent.
The court made this assertion while hearing a plea challenging Mandsaur district court’s order to sentence a 22-year-old man to three years’
imprisonment along with a fine of Rs 4,000.
A bench headed by Justice Prem Narayan Singh said as per law, any prosecution for any offence under the POCSO Act requires a culpable mental stage on the part of the accused and the same shall be presumed by the special court in such type of offences.
"So far as the demurrer of sexual intent is concerned, at the time of incident, the appellant was a 22 years old person. He pulled the clothes of prosecutrix and put his hand on her shoulder. This conduct clearly signified the sexual instinct of the appellant,” the court said.
It was the prosecution's case that when the victim, a ninth-grade student, was returning from her relative’s house, the accused grabbed her hand with malicious intent and pulled at her clothes in 2021.
Local police had filed a charge sheet, on the basis of which Mandsaur district court found the accused guilty. The trial court had then imposed a sentence of three years' rigorous imprisonment along with a fine of Rs 4,000 for the offence under the POCSO Act.
The appellant moved the High Court challenging the trial court’s order. The HC not only upheld the trial court decision but also made a strong observation that “a man pulling the clothes of a girl and putting his hand on her shoulder shows his sexual intent”.
The court said that the victim’s statement was corroborated by the statement of a witness, who is also the victim’s uncle. It was also consistent
with the details provided in the FIR, the court added.
Additionally, the court took into account the fact that during the medical examination of the victim, a medical officer had identified an abrasion on
the upper part of the girl's left hand.
"Virtually, the testimony of a prosecutrix should be regarded as an injured witness of the case and it is well settled that criminal jurisprudence
attaches great weightage to the evidence of a person injured in the incident. Such a testimony comes with an in-built guarantee of truth,
especially when it is a case of molestation or sexual assault. Such type of witness cannot spare the actual culprit in order to foist an innocent
person," the court said.