The Delhi High Court has upheld the five-year jail term of a school bus driver who sexually assaulted two minor students of Class 5 in 2014.
The accused challenged the 2020 trial court decision that held him guilty of section 354A (sexual harassment) IPC and section 10 (punishment for aggravated sexual assault) of POCSO Act, stating contradictions in the prosecution case and the victims’ inability to provide the exact date and narration of the incident.
However, the High Court dismissed the appeal, stating that the nature and gravity of the accusation were severe, and minor contradictions in the victims’ testimonies did not make them unreliable.
The testimonies of both victims clearly described the acts of aggravated sexual assault committed by the appellant, according to the High Court’s judgment passed on Wednesday.
The court further asserted that the trial court had correctly observed that the victims had no grudge against the appellant, and given their tender age, minor contradictions could not be a ground to discredit their testimonies.
The appellant also challenged the trial court verdict on the ground that the additional public prosecution had put forth leading questions to one of the victims without declaring her hostile and put words in her mouth.
However, the High Court noted that all witnesses duly supported the prosecution’s case, and their testimonies regarding the basic version of the story were consistent.
The court also stated that a prosecutor is not allowed to frame questions that make the witness answer merely “yes” or “no,” and declaring a witness hostile only means that the witness is adverse or unfriendly and not unreliable.
The matter came to light in 2014 after two FIRs were registered when the minor girls revealed the incident to their respective parents.
The High Court found no fault or irregularity in the common judgement and order on sentence passed by the ASJ-1 (North East), Karkardooma Courts, Delhi, and dismissed the appeals accordingly. (With inputs from PTI)