An accused in judicial custody for offences under the Protection of Children from Sexual Offences (POCSO) Act for over two years pleaded guilty before a Mumbai court for molesting a minor girl stating he had realised his mistake and wants an opportunity to reform (State v. Premranjan Kumar).
The accused, Premranjan Kumar, was booked for offences under Section 354 (outraging modesty of women) of India Penal Code and Section 8 (sexual assault) of POCSO Act.
He had been in judicial custody since his arrest in November 2018 and is awaiting his trial. There had been a delay at the stage of framing of charges since he could not be produced before the Court due to lockdown.
On June 18, 2021, he was produced in court when he pleaded guilty to commission of the crime.
Kumar submitted before Special POCSO judge HC Shende that 'he is ready to abide all the orders of the Court and that is why he has moved the said application from jail with the submission that he wants to plead his guilt'.
"Now he realised his mistake so liberty be given to him to reform and to live acceptable life within his family members who are depending on his income," the accused told the Court.
The special judge asked the accused to rethink about his decision but Kumar maintained his stance.
The judge then observed that the accused voluntarily accepted his guilt which implied that he had knowledge about the fact that his act was with a sexual intent.
Finding no other reason to discard the prosecution case and the allegations made by the minor victim girl against the accused, the Special judge proceeded to frame charges against him under IPC and POCSO Act.
FIR was lodged against Kumar after the minor's mother filed a complaint with the police. Kumar was immediately arrested.
The statement of the witnesses including the victim's statement under Section 164 of the Code of Criminal Procedure were recorded. After investigation concluded, a chargesheet was filed.
At the stage of framing of charges in his delayed trial, Kumar filed an application seeking to be produced before the court as he wanted to plead guilty.
Once Kumar pleaded guilty, the Court asked the parties to make submissions on the facts and punishment since no further trial was required.
The Special Public Prosecutor Geeta Malankar prayed for maximum punishment to the accused considering that he accepted the guilt.
However, the accused requested the Court to show leniency citing the financial condition of his family and the fact that he had been in judicial custody for over two years. He submitted that he does not have anyone to bail him out as he hails from Uttar Pradesh.
Considering the nature of allegations and other facts and circumstances, the Court sentenced the accused to 3 years of rigorous imprisonment each for offences under Section 354 of IPC and Section 8 of POCSO.
The Court clarified that the period of sentence already undergone in custody would be set off against the sentence and that both sentences would run concurrently.