Police asked to invoke special law on sexual crimes against kids

Two men have been sent to jail for repeatedly gang-raping a minor.

New Delhi: Two men have been sent to jail for repeatedly gang-raping a minor with the court asking the city police chief to ensure that the perpetrators of sexual crimes against children be booked in future under a newly-enacted stringent law on such offences.

The court asked the Delhi police commissioner to book such offenders under the newly enacted special law, namely the Protection of Children from Sexual Offences Act, 2012 (POCSO), which came into force from November 14, 2012 and aims to protect minor (below the age of 18 years) from offences of sexual assault, harassment and pornography.

The court, in its order, emphasised the need to conduct the probe in such cases by the police in accordance with the provisions of the special Act and observed that the same is not being followed in the cases of sexual offence against children.

"In fact, it is the provisions of this special Act which are required to be necessarily invoked by the investigating agency and the investigation/trial of the said cases have to be conducted in the manner as provided therein under the Act which I am informed is unfortunately not happening in many of the cases recently registered.

"In view of the above, the copy of this judgement is directed to be placed before the Commissioner of Police, Delhi for appropriate action in this regard," Additional Sessions Judge Kamini Lau said.

The court said it is necessary to ensure that the cases relating to sexual exploitation of persons below the age of 18 years be registered under the new Act which is a beneficial child rights legislation.

The court made the observations while sentencing 27-year-old Vikram Singh to life imprisonment and 31-year-old Tejender Singh to 10 years in jail for gang-raping a 17-year-old girl repeatedly.

According to the prosecution, Vikram and Tejender had in 2011 gang-raped the girl, the daughter of a guard in their factory, after calling her in their office on some pretext in the absence of her parents.

The girl was residing in the factory premises with her family. The incident came to light when the girl fell ill and doctors told the family that she was eight-month pregnant.

The girl later gave birth to a child and DNA test showed that Vikram was the biological father of the boy born to the victim, the court noted, while the other accused too sexually exploited her.

The court also imposed a fine of Rs one lakh each on both of the convicts and said if realised, Rs two lakh should be given to the child, who is presently in Emmanuel Convent Sanstha, Safiabad near Narela, of the victim for his welfare.

Referring to POCSO Act, it said victim was below 18 years of age and therefore, falls under the definition of a child.

"Legally a child is not capable of giving the consent and hence the question of consent does not arise," the judge said while rejecting the plea of the accused that the minor was a consenting party in the act.

The court considered the victim in the case as child, citing provisions of the POCSO Act and the IPC which says if a man has sexual intercourse with a girl under 16 years of age, it is considered as rape whether she consents to it or not.

The special Act, however, has raised the age of consent of a girl for sexual act from 16 to 18 years.

The judge observed "there cannot be a double standard" regarding promiscuity of a person, irrespective of their gender, and rejected the defence counsel`s contention that the victim was a promiscuous woman.

"There cannot be a double standard as to how men and women are to be judged for promiscuity.... Under the given circumstances their (accused-who are already married) own character being under a cloud, they cannot be permitted to raise issues regarding promiscuity of another whom they have shamelessly exploited over a period of time," the court said.