MUMBAI: The has upheld the conviction and 10-year jail awarded to a Pune man for aggravated penetrative sexual assault on a minor neighbour five years ago. The HC held that the girl, 10 years old when the crime was registered in 2013, was “consistent and cogent” in her testimony and had deposed of threats he had issued to her to prevent her from disclosing his acts.
Justice A M Badar, who heard and dismissed an appeal filed by the accused against his 2014 conviction by a Pune under the Protection of Children from Sexual Offences Act, 2012, held, “When testimony of the child doesn’t suffer from any infirmity and is fount to be trustworthy, other inconsequential aspects, such as her delayed medical examination as well as belated recording of her statement (by police) cannot be made capital of.’’

The HC refused to accept the contention of the defence that the child’s mother, a domestic help, had falsely implicated the accused at the instance of a local women’s leader, as the case “reflects on chastity” of the now teenaged daughter which may harm prospects of marriage apart from damage to the family honour’’.

“In Indian setting, it doesn’t stand to reason that the mother who has no inimical disposition against the accused would falsely implicate him,” said Justice Badar, who also found that the child’s testimony was corroborated by her mother’s and another neighbour’s testimonies as well as by medical evidence adduced by prosecutor Shreekant Gavand. A neighbour‘s testimony of the disclosure made by the child to her soon after the incident was admissible evidence under the law, said the HC.

The accused (28 then) who pleaded his innocence, said he lived in a 7×8 feet room with his wife, parents, grandmother and sister and his grandmother was always home, so the charge that he took the child to his place to commit the crime was made up. His case was that the locality women’s leader had obstructed the construction of a temple by him and she was present when the FIR was lodged. He had made his sister a defence witness. But the HC said that “in light of the positive evidence of the victim child, the interested version of defence witness cannot be accepted”.

The child victim‘s testimony was also “not shattered in the cross-examination” by defence lawyer Nagma Tandon, the HC said in its July 31 judgment, made available on its website two days later. “The trauma’’ the child suffered, “justifies late recording of her statement by the investigator,’’ said the HC dismissing contention of the defence that it could only infer that the police deliberately took time to bolster its case.

The court said the sexual intent of the accused is proved for offence under and under Indian Penal Code for sexual harassment and criminal intimidation and he has been “rightly sentenced to suffer rigorous imprisonment for 10 years which is the minimum punishment prescribed for the offence”.

“The trauma’’ the child suffered, “justifies late recording of her statement by the investigator,’’ said the HC dismissing contention of the defence that it could only infer that the police deliberately took time to bolster its case

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