HC frowns over acquittal of rape accused over a typographical error and reverses lower court order

Holding a typographical error in recording the word “semen” as Tamil word “semmann”, meaning red soil, cannot contribute to the acquittal of a man booked under POCSO Act for sexually assaulting a child, the Madras High Court has reversed a trial court order setting him free.

Justice P Velmurugan, before whom the appeal from the victim’s mother, challenging the September 2018 orders of the Mahila Court in Tiruvarur, came up recently, also pulled up the trial court judge and the investigating officer for their lacunae.

The typographical error had led the trial court judge to treat the semen found in the genitals of the child as “semmann”, which was not uncommon on a child playing on the floor outside a house.

In her complaint, the mother had stated that there was liquid in white colour in her daughter’s genitals. The police official had written it as white colour fluid, like semen.

The trial court typist typed it as “semmann”, which became wrongly interpreted as red soil.

It totally turned the case of the prosecution and admittedly, the defence side had taken advantage of this flimsy ground, the judge said.

He also cited the doctor’s report, which clearly stated that the three year-old victim was sexually assaulted.

Turning down the other reasoning of the trial court there was delay in filing the complaint, the judge pointed out that the mother was an illiterate woman living in a remote village in Tiruvarur district.

Her working husband was far away in another village when the offence took place in September, 2017. So it is natural for a hapless woman to not file the complaint in time as she would have been unaware on where to go and how to deal with the matter, the court said.

Moreover, sentiments and stigma were attached to the issue.

The culprits arrested under the POCSO Act are escaping over technical reasons and unfortunately the Investigation Wing was also not up to the standard.

Due to the defect or fault in investigation, in most of the cases, the culprits go scot-free, the judge added.

The trial courts also, sometimes not applying their minds, don’t exercise their inherent or discretionary power either to order re-investigation or summon relevant records.

They only search for proof beyond reasonable doubt, and taking advantage of the flaw in the investigation, the accused were acquitted by giving the benefit of doubt.

“But in cases like this, we cannot give much importance to the technical ground of proof,” the judge said and set aside the trial court order.

Source : PTI

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