Mumbai, Jan 29 (PTI):
A Bombay High Court judge, facing flak for her interpretation of sexual assault under the Protection of Children from Sexual Offences (POCSO) Act, had in two recent rulings acquitted two persons accused of raping minor girls, after noting that the victims’ testimony did not inspire confidence to fix criminal liability on the accused.
Justice Pushpa Ganediwala recently acquitted a man accused of groping a 12-year old girl’s breast because he did not make skin-to-skin contact, and days earlier, ruled that holding the hands of a five-year-old girl and unzipping pants do not amount to ‘sexual assault’ under the POCSO Act.
In two other judgments, she acquitted two persons accused of raping minor girls after noting that the testimony of the victims did not inspire confidence to fix criminal liability on the accused persons. “No doubt, the testimony of the prosecutrix (victim) is sufficient for conviction of the accused. However, the same ought to inspire confidence of this Court. It ought to be of sterling quality, Justice Pushpa Ganediwala said in one of the judgments.
In the second judgment, she said sole testimony of the victim in rape cases is sufficient to fix criminal liability. “However, in the present case, considering the sub-standard quality of testimony of the prosecutrix, it would be a grave injustice to send the appellant behind bars for 10 years, her order said. In the judgments, delivered on January 14 and 15, she questioned how could a single man gag the victim, undress both of them and rape without leading to a scuffle. She wondered how an unmarried couple was allowed to stay in a house by the family members and how did it find the privacy to indulge in physical relations.
In the judgment of January 15, Justice Ganediwala was hearing an appeal filed by one Suraj Kasarkar, 26, against his conviction for rape of a 15-year-old girl.
He was sentenced to ten years in jail.
The prosecution’s case is that in July 2013, Kasarkar barged into the girl’s house and raped her. The accused in his appeal claimed that he and the girl were in a consensual relation, adding the case was lodged against him at the behest of the girls mother after she learnt of the relation.