LE Correspondent

Bengaluru, June 9, 2022: In a POCSO matter, the Karnataka High Court has granted bail to the accused-appellant, who had been in custody for a prolonged period and opined that mandate of Sec.35 (2) of POCSO Act requires expeditious conclusion.

The Bench of Justice S. Sunil Dutt Yadav was considering an appeal of the appellant-accused, who was seeking to be enlarged on bail as regards his continued detention pursuant to the registration of FIR with respect to an offence punishable under Section 376 (1) of IPC, Sections 12, 21, 5 and 6 of the Protection of Children from Sexual Offences Act, 2012 and Section 3 (1) and 3 (2) of SC/ST (Prevention of Atrocities) Act, 1989.

In this matter, the inmate of a shelter home was given in adoption to a couple and the child was returned back by the adopted parents to the said shelter home. The child, when being counselled, had revealed that one Hanumantha used to visit Spoorthi Dhama and used to have sexual intercourse with other girls and she had seen the acts and staff knew of the above fact.The investigating authorities had come across material to implicate the appellant herein and charge-sheet had been filed after investigation.

The Bench noticed the fact that the appellant had been in custody for 3 years 2 months and the trial had not concluded. Also looking into the punishment prescribed for the offences as made out, any further continuance would probably result in appellant completing his sentence even before the judgment is passed by the trial court, added the Bench. The Court also asserted, “It must be noted that this court had observed that the mandate of Section 35 (2) of the POCSO Act requires expeditious conclusion which provides that trial should be concluded within a period of one year.”

One of the contention raised by the appellant was that there were two section 164 CrPC statements and the first statement under Section 164 recorded of the victim did not make any imputation against the appellant and this was also a matter that couldn’t be brushed aside though recording 164 statement required to be appreciated during trial. To this,the Bench noted that the subsequent Section 164 statement implicated the appellant. Observing that the appellant continued to be in custody, so the Bench held that the appellant was entitled to be enlarged on bail.

Granting bail to the accused, the Bench also imposed some stringent conditions and one of them was that  the accused would execute a personal bond of Rs 1 lakh with one surety for the like sum to the satisfaction of the concerned Court.

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