A SPECIAL court has allowed a plea by the Mumbai police to alter the charges against a priest booked in 2015 for alleged sexual assault of a minor, enhancing the punishment in the case.
The trial against the 53-year-old priest is in its final stages.
Last month, the prosecution filed an application before the special court seeking to alter the charges against him under the Protection of Children from Sexual Offences (POCSO) Act. The plea said that the chargesheet filed against the accused mentions that the alleged assault took place more than once at the church and that the priest was a Father at the church. Hence, the charges against him should be of aggravated penetrative sexual assault under the POCSO Act, the plea said. It sought to add Section 5 (f) which has a provision for punishment to an accused who is in the management or staff of an educational or religious institution and Section 5 (l) which is for sexual assault committed on a child more than once or repeatedly. “Only by the virtue of the already stated fact in the chargesheet that the accused is the Father of the church and offence was committed more than once that Section 5 (f) and 5(l) is being added. Thus, no prejudice will be caused to the accused as both the parties will be at liberty to lead further evidence, if any,” the court said allowing the application. These two sections have a minimum punishment of 20 years which can be extended to life imprisonment.
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