A five-year-old’s description of her ordeal through a Barbie doll has found judicial credence with the Delhi High Court confirming the jail term of a man for sexually assaulting her. The court said the girl by referring to the private parts of the ‘doll’ conveyed the information as to “what had happened with her”.
It noted from the case file that the girl while telling to her doll the ordeal of sexual assault was hesitant to answer “embarrassing”, “derogatory”, “dirty” and “vulgar” questions posed by the defence counsel.
The innovative way of giving a doll to the child to play with, adopted by the trial court judge, yielded results as the high court held that the sentence awarded to the 23-year-old man was based upon a proper appreciation of the evidence and it deserves “no intervention”.
Justice S P Garg, while dismissing the appeal filed by the convict, said the five-year-old girl had rightly conveyed the details to the trial court by describing to the doll what all was done to her by the man. The court said merely because no nail marks were found on the private parts of the child, it cannot be inferred that no such incident had taken place and her mother did not permit her internal medical examination to protect her honour.
“The crucial evidence regarding nail marks on the private parts could not be gathered. It, however, does not dilute the oral testimony of the victim whereby by referring to the private parts of the ‘doll’ in her hand she conveyed the information as to what had happened to her. “There was no occasion for the appellant (man) to take the child on the allurement of handing over a Rs 10 note to her brother,” it said.
The incident dates back to July 2014 when the girl was going to school with her 10-year-old brother and accused Hunny gave Rs 10 to the boy and asked him to bring something from a shop and kidnapped the girl. The man took her to Narela in north-west Delhi and sexually assaulted her after disrobing and slapping her. He then left the child near her house.
A woman neighbour found the child crying and wandering on streets without her skirt and took her home. Initially, the minor, who was in a state of shock, did not disclose anything to her family, she later told her mother about the incident. The incident left such an impact on the child’s mind that she became quiet and refused to talk or stay alone even with her father, Additional Sessions Judge Vinod Yadav had noted in his order convicting the man for the offence under Protection of Children from Sexual Offences (POCSO) Act.
The accused was arrested with the help of a CCTV footage of the area from where the child was kidnapped. To make the child comfortable at the time of recording her testimony in the court, the sessions judge gave a Barbie doll to the girl which kept her engaged.
While taking to the judge, the minor started putting her hand in the lower apparel of the doll. This prompted the judge to ask the child if this is what the man had done to her and the girl replied in affirmative.
“At the time of recording of the evidence of child this court had the challenge to record her evidence. This court took the assistance of a Barbie doll in making the child to depose in the matter about the nuances of the sexual assault which took placed with her,” the trial court had noted.
The man had challenged the trial court’s order convicting and sentencing him for the offence, saying it held him guilty on the sole testimony of the child who was unable to respond to the questions put to her. The high court, however, said the child was hesitant to answer embarrassing questions which were derogatory.
“She has given answers to other questions. Nevertheless, she had categorically pointed out as to what the appellant had done with her by referring it to the doll in her hand. She had conveyed as to what was done by the appellant with her.
“Nothing more can be expected from a child aged around five years considering her limited understanding. Her testimony cannot be discarded merely because she in specific words did not tell that nails were scratched on her vagina by the appellant after putting off her underwear,” it said. The bench said it was a serious crime and it could understand the trauma of the kid who suffered sexual assault and was defiled at such a small age.