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Kerala High Court Warns Against Misuse of POCSO Act, Emphasizes Vigilance by Police and Courts

Kerala High Court Warns Against Misuse of POCSO Act, Emphasizes Vigilance by Police and Courts

The Kerala High Court has recently emphasized the need for police officers and courts to be cautious of litigants who may misuse the provisions of the Protection of Children from Sexual Offences Act, 2012 (POCSO Act) for ulterior motives.

Justice A Badharudeen highlighted that the severe punishments under the POCSO Act can be exploited to falsely accuse innocent individuals, either due to personal rivalries or to settle scores in matrimonial disputes by using children as tools.

The Court stressed the importance of careful scrutiny of allegations made under the POCSO Act to ensure its provisions are not misused. “Chagrined and frustrated litigants should not be allowed to vent their frustration by cheaply misusing the provisions of penal law. Therefore, police officers and courts should always be very vigilant while addressing the allegations, so as to separate husk from the grist,” Justice Badharudeen stated.

In the case at hand, the petitioner was accused of using obscene language and making sexual gestures towards a minor in the courtyard of her house. He faced charges under Section 294(b) (public obscenity) and Section 509 (insulting the modesty of a woman) of the Indian Penal Code, and Section 12 read with Section 11(i) of the POCSO Act (sexual harassment of a child).

The petitioner moved to the High Court to quash the case against him. After analyzing the case, the Court identified significant gaps in the prosecution’s claims. It noted that the incident occurred in a private space, not a public one, thus not meeting the criteria for an offence under Section 294(b) IPC. The allegations under Section 509 IPC and Section 11(i) of the POCSO Act were also found to be unsubstantiated as there was no clear evidence of sexual intent.

The Court further noted an underlying rivalry between the accused and the victim’s father over roadworks, suggesting a possible motive for the false accusation. Consequently, the Court allowed the petition and dropped all criminal proceedings against the petitioner.

The petitioner was represented by Advocates Nirmal V Nair and M Aneesh. Senior Public Prosecutor Renjit George appeared for the State, and Advocates Madhusoodanan KS, MM Vinod Kumar, PK Rakesh Kumar, KS Mizver, and MJ Kirankumar represented the prosecutrix.

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