Reported By: Sanya Talwar
Last Updated: May 09, 2023, 01:06 IST
The court did not doubt the competence of the survivor child as a witness. According to Sri Jomon John, Special Judge, the child being 13 years of age at the time of examination before the court, was found capable of giving rational answers. (Representational image/Shutterstock)
During cross-examination, the child explicitly denied that he was subjected to any kind of sexual assault. The judge observed that the matter may have been settled out of court
The maulvi of a mosque in Kerala walked away from charges of raping a minor boy recently. The special POCSO court observed that there may have been an out-of-court settlement.
According to the case registered by Senior Civil Police Officer of Mayyil Police Station, the alleged rape happened in the bedroom of the accused attached to a mosque. Rafeeque allegedly laid himself over an 11-year-old boy with sexual intent in his mosque-attached bedroom. Accordingly, police booked him under section 7, read with sections 8, 9, and 10 of the Protection of Children against Sexual Offences (POCSO) Act, 2012.
Initially, the investigation report was laid before Additional District and Sessions Court-I, Thalassery. The same report was later handed to a special POCSO court.
The court upheld all charges framed against Rafeeque and he secured bail. After his bail period ended, he appeared in court and pleaded not guilty. His bail was extended.
In the court, the Islamic priest did not bring any witnesses from his side. On the contrary, the prosecution brought three witnesses: the survivor, his friend, and Suresh Babu PK, the police witness who was also the investigating officer in the case.
The accused was questioned under section 313 of CrPC. The section gives power to the court to question an accused in the way it considers necessary. The accused is not under oath and can explain everything regarding incriminating evidence. Even if he gives false answers, the accused is not liable to punishment.
After that, both parties were given opportunities under section 232 of CrPC. The section provides for acquittal if the judge does not find any evidence. Till the end of the process under the section, there was evidence against the accused and he could not produce any supporting evidence so as to effectuate his acquittal. However, at the time of recording testimonies and cross-examination, the survivor turned hostile.
The court did not doubt the competence of the survivor child as a witness. According to Sri Jomon John, Special Judge, the child being 13 years of age at the time of examination before the court, was found capable of giving rational answers. The child explicitly denied that he was subjected to any kind of sexual assault.
When asked whether he had signed the First Information Statement which could result in the incrimination of the maulvi, the child replied in the affirmative. On the other hand, he expressed his disapproval of the contents in the statement made before the police. The second witness, who is also a friend of the survivor, weakened the case by declaring his ignorance. Even fervent cross-examination by a Special Public Prosecutor could not bring forth any substantive result.
“Although PW1 and PW2 were declared hostile to the prosecution and vehemently cross-examined by the learned Special Public Prosecutor, nothing was extracted from their mouth in support of the prosecution. It appears from their evidence that the entire matter had been settled out of court,” the judge said.
The Investigating Officer who appeared as the third witness presented extensive documents containing investigation and reports. The court observed, “He deposed that he had conducted the investigation and laid final report against the accused. However, as the material witnesses did not support the prosecution, the evidence of PW3 assumes no significance.”
After examining every piece of evidence and statement, the court reached the conclusion that the prosecution hadn’t succeeded in proving the maulvi’s guilt. At the same time, Special Judge Sri Jomon John also laid out a serious observation.
“From the material evidence of PW1, nothing is gathered to believe that the accused committed any of the offences charged. It is inferred from the evidence of PW1 that the entire matter had been settled out of court,” observed the judge.
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