The Delhi High Court on Monday upheld the life imprisonment awarded to a convict for committing aggravated penetrative sexual assault on a 6-year-old boy.
The Bench comprising Justice S. Muralidhar and Justice Vinod Goel further enhanced the compensation awarded to the minor victim to Rs. 5 lakhs and directed that the additional sum be paid to him under the Victim Compensation Scheme within eight weeks.
The Court was hearing an Appeal filed by one Pankaj, who had been convicted in January 2015 under Section 5(m) (penetrative sexual assault) of the Protection of Children from Sexual Offences Act (POCSO) and was sentenced to life imprisonment. The Trial Court had further directed the Secretary of the District Legal Services Authority (DLSA) to grant compensation of Rs. 2 lakhs to the child.
The High Court, however, opined that the child’s testimony was reliable and that any minor contradictions can be ignored. It further noted that the child’s medical evidence also pointed towards Pankaj’s guilt.
“On carefully perusing his evidence, this Court is left in no matter of doubt that the child has spoken truthfully and cogently about the Appellant committing sexual penetrative assault which resulted in the child then screaming in pain, bleeding from the anal region, and then telling his mother as to what had happened with him and pointing out the Appellant as the person who committed the assault upon him. The identification of the Appellant by the victim, therefore, was unambiguous,” it observed, adding,
“With the deposition of the victim on what had happened to him at the hands of the Appellant going virtually unchallenged in the cross-examination and with the medical and forensic evidence clearly establishing that it was the Appellant who committed the crime, the trial Court reached the correct conclusion regarding the guilt of the Appellant.”
The Court then ruled that the trial court had given cogent reasons for the quantum of sentence imposed on the convict, and upheld the same, observing, “…this Court finds that the trial Court has given clear and cogent reasons for awarding the sentence of rigorous imprisonment for life to the Appellant. Given the gravity of the crime, and the immeasurable trauma it will continue to cause to the victim of a tender age for many years, this Court is unable to find any ground to interfere with the sentence awarded by the trial Court.”
It, however, opined that the compensation must be enhanced, noting, “…as regards compensation to the victim, the Court is of the view that this was a case where the highest possible compensation, i.e. Rs.5 lakhs, ought to be awarded considering the tender age of the victim at the time of commission of the offence.”