Delhi HC grants bail to man charged under POCSO Act

Cannot overrule his friendship with complainant: court

Updated - October 11, 2021 03:27 am IST

Published - October 11, 2021 03:26 am IST - New Delhi

The Delhi High Court has termed “unfortunate” the practice of the police filing cases under the stringent Protection of Children from Sexual Offences (POCSO) Act at the behest of the girl’s family, who object to her friendship and romantic involvement with a young man.

‘In a relationship’

Justice Subramonium Prasad made the remarks while granting bail to a 21-year-old man — who is facing charges of rape and sections under the POCSO Act on the complaint filed by a 17-year-old girl. The court noted that the victim and the man are more or less of the same age and photographs clearly show that they were in a relationship and “love between both of them cannot be ruled out as an option”.

“This court cannot overlook the fact that the petitioner [man] is now only 21 having a complete life ahead of him. This court also cannot overrule their friendship as both of them were students of the same school,” Justice Prasad said.

The court also took into consideration the statement of the girl that she would not like to pursue this case and wants to move on with her life and study ahead and would also not want her friend to suffer in jail.

The girl told police that the incident happened in June last when she had gone to her friend’s house to borrow books and on her way back, he stopped her and forcibly took her to the ground floor of his house. He then forcibly made her consume drinks following which she became unconscious. When she regained consciousness, she found that she was lying down and her body was paining. When she confronted him, he said since she was not adhering to his request for friendship, he committed rape.

The FIR was lodged in August 2020 after the discovery that the girl was pregnant. After this, the man was arrested.

The public prosecutor objected to the bail plea arguing that even if the young man and victim were friends and in a relationship, it would still attract the sixth clause under Section 375 of the Indian Penal Code, which states that having sexual intercourse with the consent of a girl below the age of 18 would still constitute rape and would be punishable. The public prosecutor said the girl had been impregnated by the assault made by the man and she had to medically terminate her pregnancy, which has caused her much mental trauma.

“Consensual sex has been in legal grey area because the consent given by minors cannot be said to be a valid one in the eyes of law,” Justice Prasad said. Fearing a social backlash and to get the pregnancy medically terminated, this FIR has been filed giving it the colour of sexual exploitation and bringing it in the ambit of the POCSO Act, the court said. Justice Prasad remarked that the rigour of the law is being misapplied in this case.

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