The Madras High Court upheld the Mahila Courts decision in convicting a pastor accused of aggravated sexual assault. Additionally, the High Court directed the State Government to constitute committees at every school to inspect grievances pertaining to sexual assault.
Background of the Case
The appellant, S. Jayaseelan, a pastor of the CSI Church was charged with offence of committing aggravated sexual assault specified under Section 9 (f) of the Protection of Children from Sexual Offences Act, 2012 (hereinafter referred to as ‘the POCSO Act), which is punishable under Section 10 of the POCSO Act. The learned Sessions Judge, Mahila Court after hearing the arguments of both the parties, convicted the appellant and sentenced him to undergo rigorous imprisonment and pay a fine. Thereafter an appeal was filed against his conviction.
Arguments before the Court
The learned Counsel appearing for the appellant being a CSI pastor had nothing to do with the management of the institution in which the victim was studying. It was contended that the appellant was not in residence at the time the sexual assault was alleged to be committed; hence, the sexual assault had not occurred.
Furthermore, it was contended that the victim was not subjected to medical examination and that “the Trial Court has erred in appreciating the facts and evidence.”
The learned Government Advocate appearing for the respondent police stated that the victim was 12 years old and that her narration of the incident clearly fell within the purview of aggravated sexual assault as specified under Section 9 (f) of the POCSO Act.
The Court observed that not subjecting the victim to medical examination was not fatal to the prosecution’s case as the appellant was charged with committing ‘aggravated sexual assault’ and not ‘aggravated penetrative sexual assault.’ The Court stated that “the evidence of victim was cogent and consistent.” Hence, according to the Court the prosecution had proved its case beyond all reasonable doubt.
Court upheld the Decision of Sessions Judge
The Madras High Court upheld the decision of the learned Sessions Judge, Mahila Court and held that there was no merit in the appeal. The Court opined that female students were deter from filing complaints against Teachers or Management of the School considering their future studies. Hence, the Court directed the State Government to form committees at school level.
It was also stated that the District Educational Officer should conduct a monthly inspection to encourage students to file complaints against sexual offenders. Additionally, the Court directed a complaint box should also be maintained in every school and the keys should be under the control of the Secretary of District Legal Services Authority and that the box should be regularly inspected.