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Bombay HC grants bail to Pune man booked for raping minor niece in 2019

A single-judge bench of Justice Vinay G Joshi was hearing the bail plea of the man charged with rape and criminal intimidation under the Indian Penal Code (IPC) along with provisions of the Protection of Children from Sexual Offences (Pocso) Act.

Written by Omkar Gokhale | Mumbai |
Updated: May 6, 2022 2:42:32 am
The court also said the man cannot enter the territorial limits of the concerned police station till the trial’s conclusion. (File)

The Bombay High Court recently granted bail to a man from Pune who was booked for raping his minor niece in March 2019. The high court held that the victim was a 17-year-old girl “at the verge of majority” when the crime was registered and “was a college-going girl within sufficient ken of understanding.”

It added that the applicant has been in jail since March 2019 and as the charges have not yet been formed, the trial will take time to commence, therefore the applicant was entitled to be released on bail. The HC directed him to be released on bail on executing a personal bond of Rs. 25, 000 with sureties of like amount and asked him to cooperate with the probing agency. The court also said the man cannot enter the territorial limits of the concerned police station till the trial’s conclusion.

A single-judge bench of Justice Vinay G Joshi on May 2 was hearing the bail plea of the man charged with rape and criminal intimidation under the Indian Penal Code (IPC) along with provisions of the Protection of Children from Sexual Offences (Pocso) Act.

According to the First Information Report (FIR) lodged by the victim’s mother, the girl came home late on March 21, 2019, and after she asked the reason, she disclosed that the man, a distant relative, met her in college and forcibly took her to a hotel and sexually assaulted her. The victim also said the man had sexually assaulted her twice in January 2019. The mother lodged an FIR after the disclosure.

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The accused’s lawyer, Sana Raees Khan, disputed the victim’s age and submitted it was evident from the prosecution case that at the most it was a consensual relationship. Khan also produced a conversation on their mobile phones to show that both of them were in an intimate relationship. Khan argued that the first alleged forcible sexual intercourse took place in January 2019 but the victim did not instantly file any complaint and a delay of over two months in reporting the alleged crime shows the case was an “afterthought and was “concocted.”

However, advocate Balasaheb Ligade representing the victim opposed the plea and said that since she was a minor, her consent cannot be considered and the complaint was justified.

After hearing submissions and material on record, the bench observed, “Apparently, on earlier occasions despite sexual assault, she (victim) has not disclosed the things to anybody. Therefore, there is substance in the submission that both had an intimate relationship. No doubt, a minor’s consent assumes no significance. However, prima facie, it is evident that it is not a case of force or use of compulsion for the alleged act. The medical report nowhere suggests that any force was used.”

Justice Joshi also observed, “Though the story was projected that the applicant had also photographed minor’s pictures, however, it has come after 15 days from the lodging of FIR, which speaks for itself. The victim girl was on the verge of majority. She was a college-going girl thereby having sufficient ken of understanding. It is to be proved during the trial that they had a physical relationship. The applicant was arrested on March 24, 2019, meaning thereby for the last three years he is in jail. It is informed that to date, charges have not been framed. Certainly, the trial will take a considerable time for its disposal. Having regard to all the above facts, the applicant has made out a case for grant of bail.”

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