Important Judgments under the Protection of Children from Sexual Offences (POCSO) Act
In the preceding parts of this series, we have comprehensively explored the Protection of Children from Sexual Offences Act, 2012 (POCSO Act). Part 1 introduced the Act, Part 2 examined the nature of offenses, and Part 3 focused on procedures and guidelines in handling cases, and Part 4 delved into the rights and protections afforded to children. In Part 5, we discussed the challenges in implementing the POCSO Act and provide recommendations to enhance its effectiveness and in the present part we will discuss some of the important judgments under the POCSO Act, 2012, is a significant piece of legislation in India that aims to protect children from sexual abuse and exploitation. Below are some of the Important judgments related under POCSO Act, categorized under various sub-headings:
1. Interpretation and Implementation of POCSO Act
Attorney General for India v. Satish and another (2021)
The Supreme Court set aside the Bombay High Court’s judgment in the case of Satish Ragde v. State of Maharashtra (2021), which had ruled that grabbing a child’s breasts without “skin-to-skin contact” constituted molestation under the POCSO Act. The Apex Court emphasized that Section 7 covers both direct and indirect touch, and the High Court’s interpretation trivializes and legitimizes undesirable behavior that undermines a child’s dignity and autonomy.
Jarnail Singh v. State of Haryana (2013)
The Supreme Court observed that the procedure used to determine the age of a child in conflict with the law, as provided by the Juvenile Justice (Care and Protection of Children) Rules, 2007, can be followed in cases falling under the POCSO Act, 2012.
Alakh Alok Srivastava v. Union of India and Others (2018)
The Supreme Court laid down guidelines to be followed by Special Courts while trying a case under the POCSO Act, 2012, so that the trial is completed within a period of one year from the date of taking cognizance of the offence.
2. Guidelines and Principles
Hari Dev Acharya @ Pranavanand and Ors v. State (2021)
The Delhi High Court stated that as the POCSO Act, 2012 is silent on whether two separate incidents can be combined in a single First Information Report (FIR), the provisions of the Code of Criminal Procedure, 1973 (CrPC) would apply.
Balaji Sarjerao Kamble v. State of Maharashtra (2017)
The Bombay High Court observed that ‘merely because the date of the crime is not given by the victim, her evidence cannot be disregarded.’
Nipun Saxena v. Union of India (2019)
The Supreme Court released a set of guidelines in relation to Section 23 of the POCSO Act, holding the publisher or owner of the media, studio, or photography facility jointly and severally accountable for his employee’s act/omission.
3. Applicability of POCSO Act
M. Loganathan v. State (2016)
The High Court of Madras declared that conviction under Section 4 of the POCSO Act for an offence committed before the Act was enforced was unconstitutional.
Kanha v. State of Maharashtra (2017)
The High Court of Bombay accepted the argument that the accused cannot be prosecuted under Section 6 of the POCSO Act if the date of the commission of the offence was not in proximity with 14.11.2012, and acquitted the accused of all charges.
The judgments discussed above reflect the evolving jurisprudence related to the POCSO Act, 2012. These decisions have shaped the interpretation, implementation, and applicability of the Act, ensuring that the rights and dignity of children are upheld. The courts have played a vital role in ensuring that the Act is used to its full potential, providing justice to the victims, and setting guidelines for future cases. The continuous efforts of the judiciary in interpreting and applying the provisions of the POCSO Act, 2012, hold immense relevance in the field of criminal law and child protection in India.