A district court has awarded three years’ rigorous imprisonment to a 34-year-old man for molesting a 15-year-old girl in his neighbourhood. District judge and special designated judge for cases under POCSO Act, P R Kadam, held the accused — Mavji Lalji Verat — guilty under IPC sections 354 (assault or criminal force to woman with intent to outrage her modesty), 342 (wrongful confinement) and 452 (house-trespass after preparation for hurt, assault or wrongful restraint).
The judge also held the man guilty under relevant provisions of the Protection of Children from Sexual Offences (POCSO) Act, while pronouncing the punishment to him along with a fine of Rs 21,000. Special prosecutor Rekha Hiwrale told the court that the victim, residing at the home of a relative and the accused were neighbours in Airoli township of Navi Mumbai in the district.
On March 4, 2015 the girl’s relatives left for Gujarat to celebrate the Holi festival while leaving her in the care of the family of the accused. On March 5, the man entered the girl’s house when she was alone and asked for some water to drink. The girl gave him water and returned to the kitchen to arrange utensils. But, the man followed her there and touched her inappropriately.
The girl then pushed him aside and rushed out of the house to save herself. She also reported the matter to a relative following which her parents came to the place and filed a complaint against the accused, Hiwrale said. The accused pleaded not guilty while stating that he was falsely roped in the case because of a financial dispute with the complainant.
The defence argued that the victim did not make a hue and cry when the incident occurred and did not inform immediately about it to anyone. However, Judge Kadam said, “I do not find substance in this submission. The court cannot overlook the situation in which the minor girl was. She managed to escape from the hands of the accused and came out of the house immediately. Thereafter, the accused went away on his motorcycle.”
The judge also noted that the girl immediately called her uncle asking him not to allow the man in their house and that she will inform him in detail about the incident on his return. “What else is expected in this situation from a 15-year-old girl. Is she expected to communicate the humiliating incident to all neighbours by making a loud hue and cry when she came out of danger? Certainly not,” the judge said. He held that the prosecution had successfully proved all charges against the accused, while pronouncing the order on December 11.