At, High Court of Judicature at Madras
By, THE HONOURABLE MR. JUSTICE N. SATHISH KUMAR
For the Petitioner: R. Ganesan, Advocate. For the Respondents: R1, E. Raj Thilak, Additional Public Prosecutor, R2, In person.
(Prayer: Criminal Original Petition filed under Section 482 of Cr.P.C., seeking to call for the entire records relating to the Crime No.1/2022, pending on the file of the 1st respondent and quash the same.)
This petition has been filed seeking to quash the F.I.R. in Crime No.1 of 2022 on the file of the first respondent police filed against the petitioner/A3 for offence punishable under Sections 5(i)(ii) r/w Sections 6 and 21(1) of the Protection of Child from Sexual Offences Act, 2012 (hereinafter referred to as 'POCSO Act') and Section 306 of I.P.C. r/w Section 3(2)(v) of the Scheduled Castes and Scheduled Tribes (Prevention of Atrocities) Act, 1989.
2. The petitioner/A3 is none other than the Headmaster of the Government Ekalavya Model Residential School, Pattipulam, Chengalpattu District.
3. The F.I.R. shows that the deceased girl was staying in the said school and on 23.12.2021, one teacher informed the defacto complainant that her daughter is complaining stomach pain frequently and asked her to take her back for treatment. Thereafter, the defacto complainant took her daughter to their native place. On 07.01.2022, the defacto complainant left for her job and thereafter, she came to know that her daughter consumed organophosphate (pesticide) and was admitted in the hospital. Later she came to know that her daughter has moved with A1, and as a result of which, her daughter became pregnant. The charge against the petitioner herein is that being the Headmaster, he has not informed the pregnancy of the child to the authorities concerned. Hence, he was also implicated in the case by way of alteration report for the above offence and the same is sought to be quashed.
4. The learned counsel appearing for the petitioner vehemently contended that the child has developed an affair with A1, which resulted in her pregnancy and she has committed suicide and at that time the fetus was six months old. It is not disputed that the girl was all along with the mother and even the mother was not able to identify the pregnancy and therefore the knowledge of the pregnancy cannot be attributed to the Headmaster. He has joined duty in the said school 51 days back. Hence, for some other reason i.e., to claim compensation, the petitioner has been falsely implicated in this case. The offence under Section 21(1) of the POCSO Act cannot be invoked against the petitioner herein and hence he submitted that the FIR filed against the petitioner is nothing but an abuse of process of law. Hence, he seeks quashing of the FIR as against the petitioner.
5. The learned Additional Public Prosecutor, appearing for the first respondent police would submit that the mother of the defacto complainant has given a statement that the Headmaster has informed that her daughter is pregnant and therefore sent her back to the home. He further submitted that the petitioner has been charged under Section 21 of the POCSO Act and hence opposed the quashing of FIR at this stage.
6. Heard the learned counsel appearing for the parties and also perused the records carefully.
7. Normally the Court will not interfere with the FIR during investigation but at the same time when the FIR is motivated or calculated and result of false implication for some other reason or the entire allegation taken at the face value do not constitute any offence, the Court will certainly interfere with the FIR even during the investigation stage.
8. It could be seen from the records that the only allegation alleged against the petitioner is that being the Headmaster he has not informed to the concerned officials under Section 19 of the POCSO Act about the so called pregnancy of the deceased minor girl. It is relevant to note that the deceased was residing with her mother from 23.12.2021 till her death on 07.01.2022. Even the mother did not suspect her pregnancy. The first person who could identify the pregnancy of the daughter will be the mother. When the mother herself has not been able to identify the pregnancy, it cannot be expected that the headmaster who has recently joined duty will have the knowledge about such pregnancy. Merely because the minor girl moved with A1 and become victim of the crime, knowledge of such relationship cannot be attributed to the Headmaster, particularly when the mother and family members have not even raised any suspicion over the girl or her pregnancy and therefore the knowledge cannot be attributed to the Headmaster for non-reporting. Further to invoke Sections 19 and 21 of the POCSO Act, there must be materials to show that the said person has knowledge that offence has been committed against the minor girl. Therefore the charge that pregnancy has been known to the Headmaster cannot be countenanced for the simple reason that even the family members were not able to identify her pregnancy and they have not even suspected that the minor girl has become pregnant. That being the scenario, the knowledge of the petitioner about the pregnancy of the deceased girl is highly improbable and the allegation that the petitioner had knowledge about the pregnancy is doubtful and the same is pressed into service at a
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later stage only in the alteration report. In such view of the matter, continuing the FIR as against the present petitioner is nothing but harassment and abuse of process of law. Accordingly, the FIR in Crime No.1 of 2022 on the file of the first respondent police, filed as against the present petitioner alone is quashed and the respondent police is directed to expedite the investigation against the other accused and see that the case reaches to its logical end. With the above observation, the petition is allowed. Consequently, the connected miscellaneous petition is closed.