No Compromises in Child Sexual Offence Cases POCSO Act: Allahabad High Court

Allahabad High Court, in Sanjeev Kumar v State, upholds POCSO Act, rejects compromise plea. Justice Gopal emphasizes: no compromise in child sexual offence cases.

In a groundbreaking ruling, the Allahabad High Court has reinforced the stringent application of the Prevention of Children from Sexual Offences (POCSO) Act, emphasizing that compromises between the accused and the victim cannot annul charges under the Act. The decision, made in the case involving Sanjeev Kumar, underscores the unwavering commitment of the legal system to address offences against minors with utmost seriousness, irrespective of any agreements made outside the court.

Justice Samit Gopal, presiding over the case, asserted, "Once the consent of the minor prosecutrix victim is immaterial for registration of offense, then such consent shall remain immaterial for all practical purposes at all stages, including for compromise." This statement highlights the court's stance that the consent of the minor victim holds no sway over the legal proceedings, even if a compromise is reached later on.

Sanjeev Kumar, the accused in this case, had petitioned the court to quash summoning and cognizance orders against him and halt the ongoing criminal proceedings in Azamgarh, Uttar Pradesh, citing a compromise reached with the victim subsequent to the filing of the FIR. However, the court's decision, backed by various Supreme Court judgments, emphasizes that offences under special statutes like POCSO cannot be dismissed based on compromises.

The allegations against Kumar involved sexual assault spanning three years on a victim who was approximately 15 years old at the time. Despite the victim expressing support for Kumar's plea, the state's counsel vehemently opposed it, emphasizing the gravity of the accusations and the need for prosecution under the POCSO Act.

Justice Gopal's ruling makes it clear that offences under the POCSO Act are not private matters and have a significant impact on society. The court highlighted that the power to quash proceedings should not be exercised in cases of such heinous and serious crimes, reiterating the necessity of thorough investigation and prosecution.

In response to the accused's plea, the court cited a Supreme Court judgment, emphasizing that where the accused faces trial for offences punishable under special statutes, prosecution cannot be quashed based on compromise. Furthermore, the court emphasized that even if the victim consents to a compromise later on, it cannot override the established offence against the accused.

"It is, thus clear that where the accused is facing trial for the offence of rape, then the factum of compromise under no circumstances can be of any help to him. They are crimes against the body of a woman. The honour of a woman cannot be put to stake by compromise or settlement," the Court remarked.

The court's decision serves as a crucial reminder of the legal system's commitment to protecting minors from sexual offences and ensuring that justice is served without being influenced by extrajudicial settlements. The case originated at Bilariganj police station in Azamgarh district, involving charges under sections 376 (rape), 313 (causing miscarriage without women's consent) of the IPC, and sections 3/4 of the POCSO Act.

Overall, the ruling underscores the non-negotiable nature of prosecuting offences under the POCSO Act and sends a clear message that compromises between the accused and the victim cannot derail the pursuit of justice in cases of such serious allegations.

The decision dated April 2 by the Allahabad High Court serves as a pivotal moment in reaffirming the legal system's commitment to protecting minors from sexual offences and ensuring that perpetrators are held accountable, regardless of any agreements made outside the realm of the law.