Calcutta HC quashed charges under POCSO against Murshidabad man

News Desk: The Calcutta high court quashed charges under the Protection of Children from Sexual Offences (POCSO) Act against a man from West Bengal’s Murshidabad district who was sentenced to four years in jail for pulling the scarf of a Class 12 student, proposing marriage and threatening to burn her with acid if she refused.

The high court order, which was passed on November 11 by justice Bibek Chaudhuri, said the lower court failed to study the details of the alleged crime and apparent discrepancies in the statements made by the victim and her uncle who lodged the first complaint.

The court said that even if the man had dragged the woman’s scarf, pulled her hand and proposed to her, it did not qualify as either sexual assault or sexual harassment.

Justice Chaudhuri said that there were discrepancies in the date and time of the alleged crime as per the statements of the minor, the eyewitness was not examined and all other prosecution witnesses were found to be of little relevance.

“In a criminal trial, the date of occurrence, time of occurrence and place of occurrence are the most vital pieces of evidence …If there is a deviation of the above-mentioned three facts, the entire case remains doubtful” said the order.

The accused, Nurai Sk alias Nurul Sk, was charged under Sections 354, 354 A (ii), 354B 506 and 509 of the Indian Penal Code and Sections 8 and 12 of the POCSO Act. He was sent to four years in jail by a lower court and later appealed against his conviction.

“It is needless to say that the victim girl who was a student of Class 12, on the date of examination, might forget the date of occurrence but it is hard to believe that she also would forget the time when the incident took place…In view of such discrepancies, it is open for the court to consider the prosecution story with a pinch of salt” the judge added.

“Even assuming that the appellant has committed the alleged act of dragging scarf and pulling hand of the victim and proposed her to marry, such act does not come within the definition of either sexual assault or sexual harassment. At best for the act of the accused, he may be held liable for committing offence under Section 354 A read with Section 506 of the Indian Penal Code” the order said.