Punjab & Haryana High Court - 28th June 2024

The Punjab & Haryana HC upheld the conviction under the POCSO Act, ruling that a seven-day delay in filing the FIR is not detrimental to the case.


An appeal against the conviction of the appellant for sexual assault against a 12-year-old girl under the Protection of Children from Sexual Offences Act, 2013 (POCSO Act) has been dismissed by the Punjab & Haryana High Court. The judge noted that the case will not suffer from a seven-day delay in filing the FIR.

Facts Of the Case

The victim was sexually assaulted by the appellant, who was found guilty under Section 8 of the POCSO Act and Section 506 of the IPC. Prosecution claims the defendant raped the girl three times in a single week, pulling her to the bathroom and threatening to kill her if she told anyone about the assaults.

Appellant’s Arguments

The Appellant argued that the prosecution’s case should be dismissed due to the unwarranted seven-day delay in filing the FIR. In addition, the appellant argued that  the victim’s birth certificate was missing, so there was no way to verify her age, and there wasn’t enough medical data to back up his claims.

Court’s Observation

A 12-year-old victim of sexual assault would not have been able to mentally understand the seriousness of the offense right at once. The victim’s normal tendency to have some delay while processing the trauma was acknowledged by the court. The judge stressed that the appellant’s threats to kill the victim and her parents provided additional justification for the delay in filing the first complaint.

The Court observed that “It has to be understood that upon having been sexually assaulted by the appellant, the 12-year-old victim child would not have been able to mentally comprehend the nature of what had been done to her. Though the victim could narrate and describe what had been done to her as, at that age there is no sense of shame attached to the act, however, it would not have been possible for the victim to mentally understand or comprehend the crime committed upon her.”

The victim’s age was validated by a school-teacher, and the victim’s school diploma and entrance form clearly demonstrated her age, the court rejected the argument that there was insufficient proof of age.

The court also dismissed the argument about the absence of medical evidence. The medico-legal report (MLR) indicated the possibility of sexual intercourse and noted small lacerations on the victim’s fourchette. The doctor’s testimony supported these findings, further strengthening the prosecution’s case.

Court’s Judgment

The court maintained the victim’s reliable and consistent testimony, declaring that it was adequate for conviction on its own, in accordance with the legal precedent set by Narinder Kumar v. State (NCT of Delhi) (2012 (7) SCC 171). The High Court dismissed the appeal after finding that the appellant’s other arguments and the small delay in filing the FIR did not cast doubt on the strength of the prosecution’s case.

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