While upholding a conviction order, the Bombay High Court commended the efforts of the Sindhudurgnagari police station and Special Judge dealing with cases under Protection of Children from Sexual Offences (POCSO) Act for completing a POCSO trial within a year as mandated under the Act. (Jitendra Rajmohan Mazi v. State of Maharashtra).
ustice Revati Mohite Dere specifically acknowledged the work of Special Judge VV Virkar, who completed the trial within a year.
“The mandate of POCSO Act, to complete trial within 1 year, duly complied with. Indeed, commendable. Speedy justice is a component of social justice, since the community, as a whole, is concerned in the criminal being condignly and finally punished within a reasonable time and if the criminal is innocent, he/she is being absolved from the inordinate ordeal of criminal proceedings. Courts must strive to ensure that cases, do not fall prey to the slow-motion syndrome, which is lethal to the administration of justice, whatever the ultimate outcome” Justice Dere observed in the order.
Justice Dere also lauded the efforts taken by the Sindhudurgnagari Police station in collecting evidence promptly. She added that “this case can be used as an ‘ideal case’ by the police on how the investigation can be done”.
She noted that the entire investigation was complete practically within a month which was “indeed a feat and a rarity”.
“If cases are investigated with diligence, alacrity and promptness, in the manner as aforesaid and trial conducted in the manner, in which it has, the perpetrators of crime can be brought to book at the earliest“, reads the judgment.
Under challenge before the High Court was an order convicting the appellant, Jitendra Rajmohan Mazi under Sections 376 (punishment for rape), 363, 366 (kidnaping) and 506 (2) (criminal intimidation) of the Indian Penal Code along with sections concerning penetrative and aggravated penetrative sexual assault under the POCSO Act.
The Special POCSO judge had convicted and sentenced the appellant to 12 years of rigorous imprisonment for rape, 5 years for kidnapping and 1 year for criminal intimidation. The sentences were to run concurrently. This order was challenged by Mazi in the appeal before the High Court.
Advocate Nasreen Khalique, appearing for Mazi, argued that the prosecution had failed to establish the identity of Mazi in connection with the crime. She also assailed a DNA report tying the blood found on the appellant’s clothes to the minor victim.
The Additional Public Prosecutor PH Gaikwad Patil opposed the appeal, stating that no interference was warranted with the challenged order. He stated that the evidence led proved beyond reasonable doubt that it was Mazi who had committed the offence.
Having gone through the evidence and the documents on record and after having heard the submissions advanced by the respective parties, Justice Dere agreed that no interference was warranted with the order of conviction passed by the Special POCSO Judge.
The Court also awarded compensation to the minor girl as per the victim compensation scheme. The District Legal Services Authority was directed to complete necessary formalities and award the compensation, if not already done.
Justice Dere went on to appreciae the efforts of Special Public Prosecutor AS Samant. The High Court also commended the efforts of the citizenry in assisting the police to apprehend the appellant at the earliest, in coming forward to depose before the Special Court as responsible citizens and in standing by their statements.
While parting with the matter, the Court has directed the registry to forward a copy of this judgment to the District Legal Services Authority, Sindhudurg as well as Director General of Police, Maharashtra.