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Delhi High Court upholds trial court decision to rely on victim’s Aadhaar card to clear accused of POCSO charges

Team SoOLEGAL 14 Sep 2023 10:17am

Delhi High Court upholds trial court decision to rely on victim’s Aadhaar card to clear accused of POCSO charges

New Delhi: The Delhi High Court upheld a trial court ruling discharging an accused under the Protection of Children from Sexual Offences Act (POCSO Act) on the basis of the claimed victim's Aadhaar Card, which showed that she had attained majority.

In this present case, the Aadhaar card revealed that the girl was 21 years old. However, the girl's mother stated in a police report that she was 16 years old and thus a minor.

The trial court had relied on the alleged victim's Date of Birth from the Aadhar card to clear the accused of POCSO charges.

On appeal, Justice Sudhir Kumar Jain of the High Court agreed with the trial court's ruling.

While there was another date of birth on a school record, the Court noted that this information was not based on any birth certificate or comparable documents issued by municipal or equivalent authorities.

In the absence of these documents, the trial court "rightly relied on the Aadhaar card" to determine the victim's age, according to the High Court.

The Investigating Officer did not collect any birth certificate from the school of the prosecutrix or birth certificate issued by MCD or any other statutory authority or panchayat. The coordinate Bench of this Court in State NCT of Delhi V Umesh ... also referred the Aadhaar card to determine the age of the prosecutrix,” the Court stated.

The High Court, therefore, dismissed an appeal filed by the State government against the trial court order.

The prosecution had argued that the trial court had erred by relying upon the age mentioned in the Aadhaar card, and by not resorting to Section 94 of Juvenile Justice (Care and Protection of Children) Act, 2015 (JJ Act).

In cases of doubt regarding the age of the child, the Court noted that the JJ Act says that the age can be determined on the basis of a Date of Birth certificate or the matriculation or equivalent certificate. The birth certificate issued by a municipal body or panchayat body can be relied upon if such records are not available. And, if neither form of document is available, the age is usually determined by an ossification test or a similar medical examination.

In this present case, the High Court also noted that the victim was not subjected to an ossification test to identify her age before upholding the trial court's order.

The Court heard allegations that the victim-girl was kidnapped, raped, and forced to marry the accused. The case was brought when the girl's mother submitted a complaint. The girl, on the other hand, denied being kidnapped or sexually molested by the accused.

In light of this, the trial court discharged the accused of all charges, stating that it was "clearly apparent that the accused and the prosecutrix were in love" and that she was 21 years old according to her Aadhaar.

Thus, the High Court upheld the trial court's decision.



Tagged: Delhi High Court   POCSO  
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