Is it possible for a four-year-old boy to be charged with assaulting a woman and also attempting to molest her?
This question confronted a Patna judge after a criminal case naming the child as an accused came up for hearing in Patna on Monday.
The child, Raj Kumar, has been charged under sections 323, 352, 504 and 554 of the Indian Penal Code in a Patna court.
The criminal case was slapped on Raj Kumar, his father, Kedar Prasad, his mother and another man, Hira Prasad, and his wife, around two years ago by a woman in Patna district.
The woman alleged the boy, who was then aged four, had along with his parents and the others assaulted her, attempted to molest her and also misbehaved with her.
The case, which came up on Monday, had the court in a dilemma. Under Indian law, the police cannot file a criminal case against a child below seven years of age.
Judicial Magistrate Saheb Kausher ordered an inquiry in the Patna civil court to ascertain the age of Raj Kumar, who is now around six years old.
"The court was surprised and shocked upon learning about the boy's age. Before hearing the case it was ordered that his age be ascertained," a judicial official told IANS.
The court failed to understand how a four-year-old could be accused of such grave charges. The court will hear the case again on Aug 11.
Meanwhile, Raj Kumar is blissfully unaware about the criminal case slapped on him.
Early this year, a six-year-old girl, Rani Pandey, was made an accused in a criminal case. She was charged by police in Bhojpur district with attacking them and helping her father escape from police custody.