The provision of the Protection of Children from Sexual Offences (POCSO) Act, which prohibits child victims from being repeatedly called to testify in court, “gets diluted" once the victim crosses 18 years of age, the High Court of Karnataka has said.
It has, therefore, allowed a victim, who was a minor when the alleged crime against her was committed, to be recalled for cross-examination in the trial court.
The victim was 15 years of age in January 2019 when the alleged crime took place. When the alleged perpetuator of the crime filed the application for her recall for cross-examination on March 28, 2022, she had crossed 18 years of age, the HC said.
The mother of the victim had filed the complaint against the son of her brother, alleging that in April 2018, “when the parents were not at home, he had indulged in certain acts on the victim.”
He had threatened her that if she revealed the incident to her parents he would upload compromising photographs of hers on social media.
One of the witnesses in the case, the victim’s father had testified in the trial court that there was no sexual act committed on the victim.
Following this, the accused, who claimed he was in a romantic relationship with the victim, sought to bring her back to the trial for cross-examination.
The plea was rejected by the trial court which said that the examination-in-chief and cross-examination were completed in January 2020 itself and as per Section 33(5) of the POCSO Act, a child-victim cannot be called repeatedly to testify in the court.
The accused then approached the High Court. Justice M Nagaprasanna in his recent judgement said that Section 33(5) “would not mean that the accused can be deprived of his right to cross-examination in a trial, particularly, where offence punishable is beyond ten years.”
The second factor was the age of the girl. “Once the victim crosses 18 years of age, the rigour of Section 33(5) of the Act gets diluted, as it is the child victim who shall not be called for cross-examination or re-examination repeatedly”, the court noted.
-With PTI Input