KOCHI: Coming done heavily on making false sexual abuse complaints against a person to wreak vengeance, the Kerala High Court has held that any attempt to misuse the provisions of the Protection of Children from Sexual Offences Act (POCSO Act) to settle scores with the opponent need to be nipped in the bud. The court observation came out when a POCSO case against a person was found a fictitious one. The court also directed to inquire whether prosecution steps can be taken under section 22 of the POCSO Act and if so, police should take necessary steps against those who made false complaints.
According to the court, the allegation of sexual abuse of a child was a matter of very serious concern and one affecting public conscience. POCSO Act provides for very deterrent punishment to the guilty. "Hence, a false case of sexual abuse on a child has also to be treated very seriously and any attempt to implicate a person falsely in an offence under the provisions of POCSO Act has also to be seriously dealt with," it observed.
The court issued the order while dismissing a petition filed by Sujatha, mother of the victim minor girl in the case, seeking a directive to entrust the investigation to a special investigation team. According to the complaint, the accused trespassed into the house of the petitioner and caught hold of a 16-year-old daughter, while she was alone there. The petitioner alleged that the case is not effectively investigated by the police.
The court noted that statements of the mother, victim, neighbours and the teachers to whom the victim allegedly disclosed the details were recorded. Though the victim was stated to have disclosed the incident to the teachers, in spite of repeated questioning regarding the identity, she conspicuously did not reveal the name of the accused who was her neighbour and known to her. She revealed the name of the accused two days thereafter.
The police found that the accused was at Karunagappally, far away from the alleged place of the incident at Sasthamcotta on that day. The telephone records and the CDR details show that the accused was within the limits of Karunagappally tower location from around 8 am till evening. CCTV footage of the place where the accused was working also checked and it revealed that, much before the alleged time of the incident, accused was seen entering the shop. He left the shop in the evening on that day. After an investigation, police decided to file a final report to refer to the present case as false.
The mother of the victim further filed a complaint before the Sasthamcotta police alleging that one year before the trespassing incident, the accused had given a toffee mixed with a sedative to the victim and committed rape. On a verification of the passport and the travel documents of the accused, it was revealed that he was working in Dubai during the relevant time.
During the argument of the case, the counsel for the mother requested for withdrawing the petition, but considering the nature of the allegation, the court declined the plea.
While dismissing the case the court directed the investigating officer to invoke Section 22 of POCSO Act (Any person, who makes a false complaint or provides false information against any person, with the intention to humiliate, extort or threaten or defame him, shall be punishable for six months or with fine).