Courts cannot reduce the minimum sentences imposed under the POCSO Act: SC

The Supreme Court (SC), in an appeal against the Allahabad High Court order reducing the quantum of sentence from 10 years, under aggravated penetrative sexual assault, to 7 years under penetrative sexual assault, despite the fact that section 5(m) of the Protection of Children from Sexual Offences Act, 2012 (POCSO Act) provides that penetrative sexual assault on a child less than 12 years old would amount to aggravated sexual assault, held that “When a penal provision uses the phraseology “shall not be less than….”, the Courts cannot do offence to the Section and impose a lesser sentence. The Courts are powerless to do that unless there is a specific statutory provision enabling the Court to impose a lesser sentence.