With sexual crimes becoming a common story and those against children particularly on the rise, the case becomes more relevant in terms of deciding who to bring within the purview of ‘child’ under the Act. The case attempted to convince the Court to widen the ambit of the term so as to include mentally retarded adults who have attained adulthood only in respect of biological growth, while having mental growth of a child.
Title: Ms. Eera,
through Dr. Manjula Krippendorf v Union of India and Anr.
CRIMINAL APPEAL NOS.1217-1219 OF 2017
Dipak Misra J.
R F Nariman J.
The petitioner who is 38 years of age suffers from Cerebral
Palsy and has attained only 6-8 years of mental growth was raped by the Resp-2,
and case was registered under the IPC and proceedings were made under the CrPC.
Since the prosecutrix is a child in terms of her mental capacity, when it came
to trial at the Sessions Court of Saket, issues relating to camera trial,
videography, absence of congenial atmosphere, etc. emerged. The mother of the
victim filed a petition before the Delhi HC u/s 482 of CrPC praying that the
matter be transferred to Special Court under POCSO Act. The HC directed
videography of the proceedings as the victim mainly communicates through
gestures, but did not transfer the case under POCSA. The
High Court directed that the case should be assigned to
a trial court presided over by a lady Judge in Saket
Court. The Petition before the Supreme Court purports to widen the scope of the
term “child” under the POCSO Act to consider the functional age of the subject,
rather than the biological age. The case also pertained to payment of
compensation under the Act to the victim, since the accused had died during the
pendency of the case.
Decision of the
The court ruled that the term “child” under the Act
cannot be interpreted widely to include the mental age of the person, and directed that the State Legal Services Authority, Delhi shall award the compensation
keeping in view the Scheme framed by
the Delhi Government. The Court considered the mechanism of
interpretation (literal or purposive) adopted by the Courts in various precedents
and concluded that the distinction between adjudication and law-making must be
maintained. Earlier decisions were examined, which ruled that judges must not
proclaim that they are playing the role of law-makers merely for an exhibition
of judicial valor.
Portions of the Judgment
conclusion that can be arrived at is that definition in
Section 2(d) defining the term “age”
cannot include mental age…”
“….this is a fit
case where the victim should be granted the maximum compensation envisaged
under the scheme….”
constitutional scheme, Judges only declare the law; it is for the legislatures
to make the law.”
legislative judgment is anathema….”