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POCSO case: Anand youth gets 10 years in prison for ‘eloping’ with minor, raping her

In a 91-page order delivered on December 2, the special POCSO court delved in detail into the question of law as the defence argued that the victim was four months shy of being an adult when she decided to 'elope' with the accused in August 2017.

By: Express News Service | Vadodara |
Updated: December 10, 2021 11:31:01 pm
The court considered the sequence of events narrated by the victim, in which, she stated the multiple times that the accused forged physical relationships with her in the homes of their acquaintances as well as in deserted locations in fields in the villages where the two families live.

The special court for Protection of Children against Sexual Offences (POCSO) in Anand sentenced a 29-year-old man to 10 years in rigorous imprisonment for abducting a minor with the promise of marriage and raping her on multiple occasions. The court held that the victim’s deposition that she was in a relationship with the accused and the defence’s argument that she was only four months shy of being an adult when the case was registered at Anand Town Police Station could not be considered as there was no dispute regarding her birth certificate that indicated that she was under 18 years of age when the crime had occurred.

In a 91-page order delivered on December 2, the special POCSO court delved in detail into the question of law as the defence argued that the victim was four months shy of being an adult when she decided to ‘elope’ with the accused in August 2017. According to the FIR filed at the Anand Town police station on August 19, 2017, the victim had left for her college on August 14, 2017, but did not return home as the accused — then aged 25 — had lured her to ‘elope’ with him for marriage. Together, the accused and victim stayed over at homes of acquaintances and friends across Anand, where the accused raped the minor victim under the promise of marriage.

The defence argued that the families of the accused and the victim were known to each other and also aware of their relationship and had not objected to the victim going out with the accused on a number of occasions. The defence also argued that the victim had stated in her deposition that she was in a relationship with the accused and attained the age of majority before deciding to go away with the accused. However, the court, in a detailed order rejected the defence argument, stating that the law on the age of the victim was “extremely clear”.

“There is no dispute regarding the birth certificate of the victim, issued by the Birth and Death registration office in Anand, which states her date of birth as being November 1999. The defence has not been able to deny the birth certificate or prove that the certificate is forged or wrong… The age of the victim at the time of the crime is to be considered as not having attained majority and, therefore, she has taken decisions (of eloping and forging a relationship with the accused) under the influence of a person of the age of majority, which is the accused… The victim was aged 17 years and eight months at the time of the incident and is to be considered a minor,” the court said.

The court considered the sequence of events narrated by the victim, in which, she stated the multiple times that the accused forged physical relationships with her in the homes of their acquaintances as well as in deserted locations in fields in the villages where the two families live. The court upheld that the accused was fit to be tried under the POCSO Act and held him guilty of abducting the minor victim from the guardianship of her parents with the intention of inducing her into marriage.

The court also rejected the defence argument that the victim’s family had indulged in an argument with the accused over another issue and were trying to frame him in a case of abduction and rape. The court sentenced the accused to concurrent terms of rigorous imprisonment of 10 years under the relevant sections of the POCSO Act along with a fine of Rs 20,000 as well as three years of rigorous imprisonment and a fine of Rs 5,000 for kidnapping (IPC 363) and rigorous imprisonment of seven years with a fine of Rs 10,000 for kidnapping to marry a woman (IPC 366). The court also directed the District Legal Service Authority to award a compensation of Rs 4 lakh to the victim under The Gujarat Victim Compensation Scheme, 2019.

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