Relationship between them was consensual: HC
The Bombay High Court recently acquitted a man for kidnapping and raping a minor. It held “the evidence suggests that the physical relationship between them was consensual”.
The case dates back to 2015, when the minor was residing with her parents at Lohagaon, Pune and was studying in Class IX. On April 8, 2015, the minor was picked up by the man was at her paternal aunt’s house when the man Mahadev Khodave came and said that the girl’s mother had asked him to pick her up.
They went to Dadar and then to Pandarpur. He rented a room and allegedly had forcible intercourse with her. After three days, he dropped her at Pune. She then called her brother, and an FIR was registered.
On September 21, 2019, a special Protection of Children from Sexual Offences (POCSO) convicted the man under Sections 363 (kidnapping), 366 (kidnapping, abducting or inducing woman to compel her marriage, etc), 376 (punishment for rape) of the IPC and Section 4 (punishment for penetrative sexual assault) of the POCSO.
He then challenged his conviction and filed an appeal before a Single Bench of Justice Anuja Prabhudessai.
The man’s advocate said the prosecution has failed to prove that the victim was a minor. He also said that the girl’s brother said he was 27 years old at the time of the incident and that the girl was five younger to him, ie. 22 years old.
The prosecution in order to prove that the girl was 14 years of age, has relied upon the School Leaving Certificate issued by Sant Tukaram Vidyalaya, Lohgaon.
The uncle of the girl also indicated that the victim got married about two to three months after the incident, the court said, “this belies the contention that the minor was 14 years of age as on the date of the incident. Hence, in my view, the prosecution has failed to establish beyond reasonable doubt that the girl was a ‘child’ within the POCSO Act.”
The court relied upon photographs of the time the couple was together and said, “The photographs not only falsify the contention that the survivor was under pressure and or frightened but demonstrates that the girl was very much comfortable and happy in the company of Mahadev.”
The court allowed the appeal and quashed the conviction by saying, “The evidence on record therefore suggests that the physical relationship between the accused and survivor was consensual. The prosecution has thus, failed to establish the charge of kidnapping/abduction and rape.”
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