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News : Karnataka High Court Refuses to Dismiss Case Against Doctor for Not Reporting Sexual Offenses on Minor.

  • In a recent decision, the Karnataka High Court has dismissed a petition filed by a gynecologist who sought to dismiss a case against them for not reporting a sexual assault on a minor.
  • The gynecologist was accused of violating the mandatory reporting requirements stated in Section 19 of the Protection of Children from Sexual Offenses (POCSO) Act.
  • According to Section 19 of the POCSO Act, anyone who becomes aware of a sexual assault on a minor is legally obligated to report it to the Special Juvenile Police Unit or the local police.
  • Failing to fulfill this duty can lead to punishment under Section 21, which carries a sentence of six months imprisonment.
  • The petitioner, who runs a hospital in Chikkamagaluru, allegedly performed a termination of pregnancy on the minor victim without reporting the incident to the authorities.
  • The victim and her companions had informed the petitioner that she had taken abortion pills, resulting in severe bleeding.
  • After the procedure, the petitioner discharged the victim, who was then taken away by individuals claiming to be her relatives.
  • The crime was reported about a month later, leading to the petitioner’s involvement in the case.
  • Initially, the petitioner was not named as an accused party.
  • However, during the investigation, the petitioner was charged under Section 21 for failing to report the incident.
  • Following a notice and the petitioner’s statement, a charge sheet was filed.
  • The petitioner’s defense argued that the victim’s physical appearance suggested she was over 18 years old, leading them to perform the surgery without further inquiry, assuming it was in the patient’s best interest. However, Justice M Nagaprasanna, the single judge on the bench, rejected this defense, stating that it was highly improbable for an experienced gynecologist to not realize that the victim was only 12 years and 11 months old and had been sexually assaulted resulting in pregnancy.
  • The court emphasized that the petitioner’s claim about the victim’s appearance would be evaluated during the trial and not at the current stage of the proceedings.
  • Highlighting the significance of reporting offenses under the POCSO Act, the court stressed that many crimes against children often go unnoticed due to suppressed information. Non-reporting of such incidents is considered a serious offense.
  • In light of these considerations, the court directed the state to ensure strict adherence to Section 19, particularly when doctors are involved in cases of medical termination of pregnancy for minors in exceptional circumstances.
  • Therefore, the court dismissed the petitioner’s petition.

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