Delhi

After 13 years, High Court reopens sodomy case of seven-year-old boy

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Juvenile Justice Board had said in 2005 that the victim’s words cannot be believed as he scored low in school; court directed the Board to decide afresh within three months

The failing grades of a seven-year-old boy was implied by the Juvenile Justice Board (JJB) here that his word cannot be believed when he accused three of his seniors of sodomising him repeatedly in the school bathroom.

Unable to come out of the trauma of having been dubbed as a liar, the boy, now a 20-year-old man knocked the doors of the Delhi High Court challenging the acquittal of all three senior students in the case.

The incident allegedly happened when the victim was studying in Class III of a private school in north Delhi in 2005. When the boy told his teacher about it, she had instead beaten him up. Feeling afraid, he did not disclose the incident to anyone. Following this, the three seniors continued to subject him to similar acts of sodomy on several occasions with threats that they would throw him into a drain if he told anyone about the incident.

The mother had found the boy in a depressed state and after his father was also brought in the loop, the child spoke out. An FIR was registered on September 5, 2005, but the JJB took over six years to decide the case in favour of the three accused students.

‘Creating a doubt’

The Board noted that the accused student’s counsel was successful in creating a “doubt” that the complaint was filed by the victim’s parents to save the child from getting dismissed from the school due to his poor performance. As the State did not challenge the Board’s judgment, the victim moved a trial court here, which dismissed his plea in May 2016. He then moved the High Court.

The victim’s grievance is that despite incriminating evidence against the three seniors, he was termed as a person whose word could not be relied upon. This, his plea said, was “an insult to the injuries suffered”.

In its verdict, the High Court Bench of Justice R.K. Gauba said the Board failed to judge the case on the touchstone of the psychology of the child who may have suffered sexual abuse.

The judge remarked that the child’s lack of interest in attending school, disinterest in studies and resultantly his poor performance, needs to be examined from all angles since it may conversely be indicative of trauma of the child due to the sexual abuse.

“A child victim of sexual abuse cannot be expected to conduct himself in a normal or healthy manner in school which, in his mind, is no longer a place of safety,” the judge said. “The manner in which the JJB in this case dealt with the responsibility of appreciating the evidence smacks of total disconnect with the specialized field of child psychology,” the judge said.

The court remarked that only such Magistrates should be appointed as members of the Board who possess “special knowledge or training in child psychology or child welfare”. It also directed the Board to re-open the case and decide afresh within three months.

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Printable version | Jan 25, 2020 1:27:21 PM | https://www.thehindu.com/news/cities/Delhi/after-13-years-high-court-reopens-sodomy-case-of-seven-year-old-boy/article25875901.ece

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