Karnataka HC Reduces Life Sentence in POCSO Case Citing Insufficient Justification for Maximum Penalty

In a recent judgment, the Karnataka High Court has amended the life sentence handed down in a POCSO Act case, reducing it to 10 years. The decision underlines the necessity for substantial justification when imposing the severest penalties under the law.

The appellant, a 27-year-old man from Chikkamagaluru, was initially convicted by a special court, which found him guilty of sexually assaulting a minor girl repeatedly in 2016. Following the assault, the victim’s mother lodged a complaint after discovering her daughter was pregnant, leading to a DNA test that confirmed the accused as the father.

Originally sentenced to life imprisonment under Section 6 of the POCSO Act and fined Rs 5,000, the accused appealed the decision. His legal representation contested the validity of the age documentation provided and argued against the life sentence.

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Justices Sreenivas Harish Kumar and C M Joshi, presiding over the appeal, acknowledged the victim’s oral testimony, which hinted at consent. However, they noted that consent was legally irrelevant due to the victim being only 12 years old at the time of the incident. Despite this, the judges found the testimony influenced their decision against imposing the maximum penalty, citing a lack of sufficient reasoning from the special court for such a harsh sentence.

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