A court in Mumbai granted bail to a 20-year-old man booked for rape under Protection of Children from Sexual Offences (POCSO) Act, observing that it was not proper to keep the accused in jail amid the growing number of Covid-19 cases among inmates. The court also observed that facts of the case prima facie show that the accused was in a relationship with the 16-year-old victim.
The accused had claimed in his bail application, filed through lawyer Bharat Manghani, that he and the victim were in a relationship. He had submitted that they intended to get married and that the victim left her home of her own will on February 12. A missing complaint was filed at Vakola police station by her parents, based on which the police began a search for her. She was found in Nashik along with the accused, who lives there. The accused told the court that the police had completed their investigation and a chargesheet was filed. The prosecution led by Special Public Prosecutor Geeta Sharma submitted that if released on bail the accused would pressurise the victim’s family.
“At the time of the incident, the victim has left her home voluntarily and disclosed her relationship to her parents, who are against it. Taking into consideration the facts about their relationship and due to the lockdown, the trial will not proceed further. Also, as there is Covid-19 spread among the inmates, it is not proper to keep the accused in jail anymore,” the court said while granting bail to the accused.
The accused, who was lodged in the Arthur Road Jail, was released with conditions, including not visiting the victim’s residence.
A high-power committee had directed the release of about 50 per cent of the prisoners in the state on interim bail or emergency parole.
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