In the case of Gobinda Bag v. State of W.B, The father of the 13-year-old alleged victim filed a complaint against accused-appellant Gobinda Bag, alleging that he attempted to drag the girl behind him when she was returning to her house by concealing her face. When the suspect ran away from the crime site, other locals caught sight of him. The appellant was charged with a crime under Sections 8 and 12 of the POCSO Act and Section 354 of the IPC.
The appellant was found guilty under Section 8 of the POCSO Act by the Special CourtExtraa Sessions Judge in an order dated July 25, 2022. He was sentenced to three years of simple imprisonment and a fine of Rs. 5,000, with an extra month of simple imprisonment if he did not comply. The appellant filed an appeal before this Court to contest the Special Court’s judgement, order of conviction, and punishment after becoming incensed with them.
The accused argued that the testimony of the prosecution witnesses did not corroborate the victim’s claims since it was inconsistent and exaggerated. The accused further argued that there were no gestures, overacting, or overtones in the victim’s testimony that would suggest that the accused had “sexual intent” towards the victim and be subject to the applicable penalties under the POCSO Act or Section 354 of the IPC.
The complainant argued that the expression “does any other act with sexual intent which involves physical contact without penetration” found in Section 7 of the POCSO Act is sufficient to establish an offence against the accused.
Analysis of Court Order
The single bench observed that in Section 8 of the Protection of Children from Sexual Offences Act, Justice Tirthankar Ghosh noted that the victim’s parents embellished their versions to qualify for the POCSO Act’s protections and overturned the Special Court’s judgement because the prosecution had failed to establish the accused’s sexual intent in accordance with Section 11 of the POCSO Act.
The victim made no claims in her statement as required by Section 164 of the CrPC involving any physical contact or touch on any of her private portions of her body, an attempt to have her take off her clothes, or being pulled maliciously in the direction of a bush. The victim’s parents embellished their accounts, according to the court, to qualify for the POCSO Act’s protections. According to the court, the prosecution’s evidence should inspire confidence in the court on the fact that there was sexual intent engaged, which is to be inferred from the circumstances surrounding when touch or physical contact happens. The Court overturned the accused’s conviction after ruling that the prosecution had not established the accused’s sexual intent in accordance with Section 11 of the POCSO Act.