Question: I am the principal of inter-college. One day peon of the college committed rape on a student of class eleven. Her father reported the incident to me on the same day and asked to file FIR. I thought that it might disrepute our institution, therefore, trying to compromise the matter. Eventually, he filed FIR and also made me an accused. Did I commit any offence under POCSO?
Asked from: Uttar Pradesh
You have committed an offense under Section 19/21 of the POCSO Act, which protects children from sexual offenses. Failure to report a crime under this act is punishable by law, and it was your responsibility to report the rape committed by the school peon to the nearest police station once you were made aware of it.
The POCSO Act is a special law enacted for the protection of children from sexual offenses. Any person who is aware of such a crime is obligated to report it to the Special Juvenile Police Unit or the local police, as per Section 19 of the act. Since you were informed by the victim’s father that the peon had committed the rape, it was your responsibility to report it to the police immediately.
Failure to report such an offense is punishable under Section 21 of the POCSO Act. As the principal of the school and the peon’s superior, your failure to report the crime makes you liable under Section 21(2) of the act. According to this section, any person who is in charge of an institution and fails to report a subordinate’s offense is punishable by law.
For an offense to be committed under Section 21, the person in charge of the institution must be aware that an offense has been committed. Since you were informed by the victim’s father and even asked to file an FIR, your deliberate attempt to compromise the matter makes you guilty under Section 21(2) of the POCSO Act.
The POCSO Act was enacted in line with Articles 15 and 39 of the Indian Constitution, which permit Parliament to create special laws for children. As girls are vulnerable to sexual offenses, the POCSO Act imposes a duty on individuals to launch criminal proceedings by reporting such crimes to the police.
In the A.S. Krishnan v. State of Kerala case, the Supreme Court held that “knowledge” is equivalent to awareness on the part of the person concerned indicating his state of mind. Since your attempts to compromise the case prove that you were aware of the crime, you have committed an offense under Section 21(2) of the POCSO Act.
Although you and the peon committed different crimes, Section 223 of the Code of Criminal Procedure allows for two or more accused to be tried together if they committed different offenses in the same transaction. Therefore, you may be tried jointly.