In a decision that has sent shock waves all around, the Allahabad High Court has lowered the penalty imposed by the Special Sessions Court on one Sonu Kushwaha, a convict, found guilty of having oral sex with a 10-year-old minor child in lieu of Rs 20.
The single-judge bench of Justice Anil Kumar Ojha reduced Sonu Kushwaha's punishment from 10 years to 7 years, observing that the crime committed by him is 'less serious'.
Justice Anil Kumar Ojha was hearing an appeal filed by Sonu Kushwaha against a Special Sessions Court verdict convicting him under the Indian Penal Code's Sections 377 (unnatural offences) and 506 (punishment for criminal intimidation), as well as Section 6 of the POCSO Act.
The judgment said that it would not fall within the purview of either of the two sections, but it is punishable under section 4 of the POCSO Act.
"It is clear that offence committed by appellant neither falls under Section 5/6 of POCSO Act nor under Section 9(M) of POCSO Act because there is penetrative sexual assault in the present case as the appellant has put his penis into mouth of victim. Putting penis into mouth does not fall in the category of aggravated sexual assault or sexual assault. It comes into category of penetrative sexual assault which is punishable under Section 4 of POCSO Act," the Court observed.
The Court reduced the sentence of the appellant from 10 years of rigorous imprisonment to 7 years, and a fine of Rs 5,000, since 'penetrative sexual assault' under Section 4 is a "lesser offence" than 'aggravated penetrative sexual assault' under Section 6.
The appellant Sonu Kushwaha was accused of going to the complainant's house and taking the complainant's 10-year-old kid with him. "In exchange for Rs 20, he urged the child to put his penis in his mouth. When the child returned home, his family inquired as to where he obtained the money from".
Upon being coerced that child narrated the ordeal. He said that Sonu Kushwaha had threatened him with dire consequences if he revealed the truth. The parents of the minor subsequently filed a complaint against Sonu Kushwaha.