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Failure to Report Sexual Violence Against Minors Despite Knowledge A Serious Crime Under POCSO Act: SC

Failure to report sexual assault against a minor child, despite knowledge, is a serious crime, the Supreme Court ruled on Wednesday, adding that more often than not, such failure to report is done in an effort to protect the perpetrators of the crime.

An SC department bench made these observations while overturning an order destroying the FIR and the charge sheet filed against the accused physician.

The court ruled that the destruction of the said FIR and the indictment smothered the prosecution at the threshold, without the supporting materials having seen the light of day.

Such an action cannot be said to be an exercise made to safeguard the interests of justice while it can only be said that such an exercise resulted in a miscarriage of justice, which the seat of Judges Ajay Rastogi and CT Ravikumar held.

At the very beginning, the court stated that it was not irritated, but certainly hurt, because a legitimate prosecution under the Protection of Children from Sexual Offenses Act, 2012 (POCSO Act), was pushed to the threshold by the exercise of power on under section 482 of the Code of Criminal Procedure, 1973.

In the case before the court, underage girls from a tribe who were students of the Infant Jesus English Public High School, Rajura, and who lived in the girls’ hostel were sexually assaulted.

The hostel inspector and four others were arrested and charged with the crime. During the investigation, it was found that the doctor appointed to treat the girls admitted to the hostel had knowledge of the incidents of the victims themselves, as the girls revealed in their statements under Article 161 of CrPC.

The physician, who was required by law under the provisions of Article 19(1) of the POCSO Act, at the time of knowledge of committing an offense under this Act, to provide such information to the special youth police unit or the local police, remained silent and did not provide such information to help the suspect, is the crux of the charge against him, the court noted.

The SC further considered that the legal obligation to report a criminal offense under the POCSO Act rests on a person to inform the relevant authorities listed below when he/she knows that a criminal offense has been committed under the the law has been committed, in order to ensure that such offenders are not spared and must be properly accounted for.

“… such provisions are included for the purpose of strict compliance with the provisions of the POCSO Act and thereby to ensure that the tender age of children is not abused and their childhood and youth are protected from exploitation… the bank also noted.

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