A minor victim of sexual offence suffers grave psychological impact by being present during court proceedings and it is in her interest that she is not traumatised again by having to relive the incident, Delhi High Court has said.
Justice Jasmeet Singh noted that arguments in court proceedings include assertions doubting the victim’s integrity and character while she is forced to be present in the same space as the person who has allegedly violated her.
The judge, who was hearing an appeal by a man convicted of perpetrating offences under the POCSO (Protection of Children from Sexual Offences) Act and the Indian Penal Code (IPC) upon his own daughter, sought the stand of the Delhi State as well as the high court’s legal services authority on certain practice directions to govern the presence of victims in courts in bail hearings.
The allegations against the appellant included commission of offences under section 6 (punishment for aggravated penetrative sexual assault) and sections 376 (rape)/506 (punishment for criminal intimidation) IPC.
“The psychological impact on a POCSO victim being present in Court is immensely grave as the arguments vary from allegations, accusations, doubting integrity, character etc.
The prosecutrix/victim is forced to be present in the Court with the accused that is the same person who allegedly has violated her,” said the court in its order dated August 1.
“It is in the interest of the victim that she is not traumatised again by re-living the said incident/court proceedings which could be triggering for her. In this view of the matter, the suggested practice directions be sent to the Member Secretary, DHCLSC (Delhi High Court Legal Services Committee) and DSLSA (Delhi State Legal Services Authority) for their inputs,” it added.
The court also took on record the suggestions made by the counsel for the appellant on this issue. The appellant in the case has sought suspension of the sentence of 10-year rigorous imprisonment and fine during the pendency of his appeal.
The court noted that while there were chances of the appellant visiting Rajasthan, where his wife and the victim were residing, he might undergo the whole sentence without the appeal being heard if relief was not granted to him.
Observing that only a period of 1 year and about 9 months were left for him to serve, the court said that the sentence needed to be suspended as the appellant has undergone its substantial portion and there was no reasonable chance that the appeal would be taken up for hearing in the near future.
The court directed the release of the appellant on a personal bond with one local surety in the sum of Rs 20,000 and on the condition that he “shall not visit the State of Rajasthan under any circumstances whatsoever”.
The court also directed the appellant not to connect with or be in touch with his wife or the victim and appear before it when his appeal is taken up for hearing.
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