The Bombay High Court has granted bail to a 22-year-old man, arrested last year for allegedly raping a 15-year-old girl, noting the two were in a relationship and the victim, though minor, was capable of understanding the consequences of her act.
A single bench of Justice Bharati Dangre in the order dated November 15 also noted the victim had voluntarily accompanied the accused to his aunt's place where the alleged offence took place.
'Victim minor, consent immaterial but further evidence required'
“It appears that the victim, though a minor, was capable of understanding the consequences of her act and she voluntarily accompanied the applicant (accused) to his aunt's place. Though she is a minor and her consent becomes immaterial, in a case like this, where she voluntarily joined the applicant and has admitted that she was in love with the applicant, whether she consented to the sexual intercourse or not is a matter of evidence,” the bench said.
It added that whether the victim girl resisted the sexual act and at what point the accused forcibly committed sexual intercourse with her against her wishes will have to be determined at the time of trial.
'Accused young, may have been infatuated'
“The applicant is also a young boy and the possibility of him also being smitten by infatuation cannot be ruled out. At present, he need not be further incarcerated as he has been arrested in April 2021 and the trial may consume considerable time,” the HC said.
The bench, while granting bail to the accused, directed him to not establish any contact with the victim and to not even enter the same area as her residence in suburban Mumbai.
A case under relevant provisions of the Indian Penal Code (IPC) and the Protection of Children from Sexual Offences Act (POCSOA) was lodged against the accused on April 29, 2021, by the victim. As per the complaint, the accused raped her on April 6, 2021, when she had accompanied him to the residence of his aunt in a suburb of Mumbai. The victim girl said she revealed the incident to her sister on April 29 after her family caught her chatting with him on WhatsApp.
'Victim delayed lodging a complaint'
The high court also took note of this delay in lodging the complaint and said, “The victim kept quiet till her WhatsApp chat with the applicant was objected to by her family members. She continued to remain silent from April 6 and disclosed the incident only when an objection was taken by her family”.
(With inputs from PTI)