The Madras High Court on Tuesday was shocked to come across a case of misuse of the provisions of Protection of Children from Sexual Offences (POCSO) Act and wondered how a woman could go to the extent of accusing her husband of having an illicit sexual relationship with their 11-year-old daughter.
Justice N. Anand Venkatesh said he could not fathom why the woman had stooped to such low level just to settle scores with her estranged husband and to deprive him of the custody of their two girl children. He quoted,
This case had shocked the conscience of the court
The judge continued,
There were instances when the attention of this court was drawn to similar incidents where false complaints were given as if the husband has committed an offence under POCSO Act against the daughter and it was informed to this court that such cheap tactics are adopted in the Family Court cases just to arm-twist the husband to make him fall in line.
Citing this case as an eye opener for the courts, the judge said,
This court was not willing to believe that such instances can happen and this case is an eye-opener for this court. This court was made aware of the extent to which POCSO Act can be misused.
He went on to point out that the POCSO Act puts the onus on the accused to prove that he was innocent. Quashing the First Information Report (FIR) registered against the accused, the judge observed,
The consequences of prosecuting a person under this Act are very serious and apart from providing for stringent punishments, the person who is prosecuted virtually comes down in the eyes of the society at large and he is virtually shunned from the mainstream of the society.
The judge also mentions that the father was lucky in this case as the child was able to express herself clearly. He said,
Fortunately in this case, the child concerned was able to express herself very clearly both before this court as well as the court below (Family Court) and therefore on the face of it, this court was able to find that the Act has been misused.
Pointing out that the complainant had initiated the prosecution without even caring for the future of her own daughter, the judge said,
This is the worst type of false prosecution, a court can ever encounter.
The judge directed the Inspector of the All Women Police Station in Kilpauk to alter the FIR and prosecute the complainant for having lodged a false complaint. He also added,
The second respondent should not be let off and she should be made to suffer the consequences for having given a false complaint against her husband at the cost of her own daughter. The respondent police is directed to immediately proceed against the second respondent under Section 22 of the POCSO Act for having given a false complaint.
The judge concluded,
This case should be a lesson for all those who attempt to misuse the provisions of this Act, just to satisfy their own selfish ends.