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Manipur High Court suspends POCSO convict's sentence on medical grounds

Convict was sentenced to undergo 20 years rigorous imprisonment with a fine of Rs 30,000

ByIFP Bureau

Updated 4 Sept 2022, 4:52 pm

Manipur High Court (PHOTO: IFP)
Manipur High Court (PHOTO: IFP)

Justice MV Muralidaran of the Manipur High Court on August 23 granted bail and suspended the sentence of a man convicted under the Protection of Children from Sexual Offences (POCSO) Act on medical grounds.

The accused, Sandam Bhogen, son of S Bheigya of Sairemkhul Mayai Leikai, was convicted on October 16, 2018 by the Special Judge (POCSO), Imphal West under Section 6 of the POCSO Act, 2012, for aggravated penetrative sexual offence on a three-and-half-year-old the same year. He was sentenced to undergo 20 years rigorous imprisonment and imposed a fine of Rs 30,000.

The accused preferred a jail appeal and along with it, he also moved instant petition seeking suspension of the sentence, submitting that he is a patient who has been suffering from a failure of the right kidney, calculi on the gallbladder, spinal cord problem, and other serious bodily injuries and due to which, he is unable to freely sit, stand and sleep without waist belt because of his ailment on the spinal cord due to such bullet injuries.

The Counsel of the accused prayed for granting bail to save the life of the accused stating that, if he is not released on bail, his life will be shortened as his kidney injection has become serious.

The accused also challenged the judgment of the Special Judge on various grounds as could be seen from the grounds of appeal.

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However, the HC, while considering the challenged, stated that the aforesaid grounds raised by the accused and referred to by the court cannot be gone into at this stage, as the same would involve arguments, coupled with the judicial pronouncements in that regard. Further, the merits of the judgment regarding the injuries over the vulva of the victim canvassed by the accused counsel also cannot be gone into at this stage, the court added.

The HC also considered whether the accused is entitled to bail by suspending the sentence on medical grounds.

In this regard, the HC said that the medical report of 2019 and the current health status of the accused has not been produced by the prosecution. When the accused, who is a convict prisoner complains of severe health problems/issues, it is the bounden duty of the prosecution/jail Superintendent to produce the latest health records of the accused to show that the accused is hale and healthy in jail. Further, for the ailment, if any, the jail authorities are providing timely treatment to the accused to save his life, the Court noted.

The HC observed that though the crime alleged against the accused is serious in nature and also affront to the human dignity of the society, taking into consideration the health condition of the accused that failure of his right kidney and also becoming more serious of his gall bladder from calculi, in order to take better treatment outside the jail, the HC considers it appropriate to release the accused on bail mainly on medical grounds by suspending the sentence.

“Right to life and liberty of an individual is precious under Article 21 of the Constitution of India and is also a very valuable right of accused/convict which also continues during the appeal period, as appeal is the continuation of the trial. The medical records available on record would prima facie reveal that failure of right kidney of the, calculi in gall bladder and spinal cord problem. As stated supra, though the medical records produced are of the year 2019, nothing has been produced by the prosecution to show improvement in the health of the accused and also failed to produce any latest medical record pertaining to the accused to show that in jail proper treatments are given to the accused for nearly four years”, stated the HC.

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“Under-trial prisoner’s right to life does not diminish even a wee bit when in jail as an accused/convict for an offence and such person’s health concerns have to be taken care of by the state and if not done so, by the judiciary. The right to dignity of an accused does not dry out with the Judges. Rather, it subsists beyond the prison gates and operates until his last breath”, stated the HC.

The HC noted that the most precious fundamental ‘right to life’ unconditionally embraces even an under-trial. Owing to the apparent precarious health condition of the accused as he is suffering from right kidney failure; calculi in gall bladder and spinal cord problem, it is necessary that he should get himself adequately and effectively medically treated. Every person, who is accused of an offence, requires humane treatment by the prison authorities. Humane treatment to all including accused/convict is a requirement of law. Furthermore, a prisoner/convict who is suffering from an ailment has to be given due treatment and care while in prison.

The HC, considering the totality of the facts and circumstances and for the reasons of health ground, suspended the sentence of the convict and released him on bail on furnishing a personal bond for Rs.50,000 (fifty Thousand) with two sureties in the like sum to the satisfaction of the Special Judge (POCSO), Imphal West, Manipur.

The HC, while releasing him, made conditions and directed him to report before the Special Judge (POCSO), Imphal West on all Tuesdays and Fridays at 10.00 AM till the disposal of the appeal pending before the court; he shall also report before the Border Affairs Police Station on the first Monday of every month at 10.00 am; he shall not indulge in any criminal activities during the period of suspension of sentence; the Border Affairs Police is directed to monitor him and if any they find him involved in any criminal activities, the Border Affairs Police is at liberty to bring it to the notice of the HC through the Public Prosecutor; he shall not leave the jurisdiction of the court; in case of violation of any condition, the prosecution may ask for cancellation of bail.

Also Read: Manipur government issues transfer, posting order for OCs

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Tags:

manipur high courtcrimePOCSOjailconvict

IFP Bureau

IFP Bureau

IMPHAL, Manipur

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