Updated: January 29, 2022 5:13:58 am
The Aurangabad bench of the Bombay High Court, earlier this month while hearing bail plea of two accused booked for sexually assaulting a 17-year-old girl, expressed displeasure over the acts of father of the victim of “donating” his daughter to a “baba” (godman), by executing ‘daanpatra’ (deed of donation).
A single-judge bench of Justice Vibha V Kankanwadi referred to the “daanpatra” and observed, “It is stated that the father of the girl has given his daughter in donation (Daan) to the Baba and it is stated that the said Kanyadan has been made in presence of the god. When the girl as per her own statement is minor, then why does the father, who is in all respect the guardian of the girl, give the girl as Daan ? A girl is not a property which can be given in donation.”
The bench was hearing bail applications of Shankeshwar alias Shambhu Dhakne and Sopan Dhanke, argued through advocates S S Thombre and B P More, respectively.
The FIR was registered last year at Badnapur police station, Jalna under the the Protection of Children from Sexual Offences (POCSO) Act, for sexually assaulting a minor, who lived with her father in the temple premises where the “baba” lived with his disciples.
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The court made the observations referring to a “disturbing” document produced before it, which consisted of a “daanpatra” on stamp paper, executed on August 29, 2018 between the father of the girl and the “baba,” which stated that the father had given his daughter in donation (daan) to the said “baba” and the “kanyadan” has been made in presence of god.
The bail applicants had claimed they were falsely implicated by the victim, who filed a complaint against them under the influence of the “Baba,” therefore they should be released on bail. The lawyers said the applicants had taken active part in holding a gram sabha, wherein a resolution was passed by the gram panchayat that the priest in the temple, who is stated to be the “baba”, consumed narcotic drugs and he is driving certain persons to addition and therefore should be asked to leave the temple.
Observing that the probe in the case was over and the chargesheet was filed and in view of the evidence collected, it would be a fit case to release the applicants on bail, however, with “stringent conditions.”
The court noted that the person, who had filed the affidavit explaining the stand as per its directions, was not the same person who was mentioned as the father of the victim in the chargesheet, but it was filed by the “baba” himself.
The said affidavit claimed that after the girl’s mother died, her father had given her up for adoption to the baba in 2018. It added that a proper adoption deed has not been executed and the process would be followed. The HC observed that the counsel for respondent father also failed to explain as to why the document styled as “daanpatra” was executed.
“This court is concerned with the future of the minor girl and in view of such a document coming forward, can’t shut the eyes,” the HC noted, adding that “it is required to interfere” in view of the “actions taken by father of the girl in executing Daanpatra”.
The judge said, “This is in view of the future of the girl and she should not be driven to do any illegal activities.”
The bench then directed the Child Welfare Committee (CWC), Jalna to “hold inquiry on expeditious basis” and asked it “to find out as to whether she is fit to be declared as a child in need of care and protection.” The CWC submitted its report on January 21, after which the bench posted further hearing to February 4.
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