The Bombay High Court last week granted bail to a 22-year-old man, arrested last April, for allegedly raping a 15-year-old girl, noting that the two were in a relationship and the girl, though a minor, was capable of understanding the consequences of her act. It also noted that the girl had voluntarily accompanied the accused to his aunt’s place where she was allegedly raped.
Justice Bharati H Dangre passed the order while hearing the bail plea filed by the accused who was arrested by the Mumbai Police on April 29, 2021, on charges of kidnapping and raping the then 15-year-old girl under IPC and the Protection of Children from Sexual Offences Act.
In her statement recorded under Section 164 of the Criminal Procedure Code, the girl had admitted that she knew the accused, her neighbour, and they had been in a relationship for two months before the incident took place on April 6, 2021.
As per the complaint, the girl left her house after telling her family that she was going to a friend’s house to attend an online class. It added that she and the accused reached the house of his aunt, who was not at home. Thereafter, the accused allegedly raped her and threatened her not to disclose the incident to anyone.
However, on April 29, last year, the girl’s sister caught her chatting on WhatsApp with the accused, following which the minor disclosed the incident to her family.
The HC noted, “It appears that the victim, though minor, was capable of understanding the consequences of her act and voluntarily accompanied the applicant to her aunt’s place. Though she is a minor and her consent become immaterial, in a case like this, where she voluntarily joined the company of the applicant, and she had categorically admitted that she was in love with the applicant, whether that she consented for the sexual intercourse or not, is the matter of evidence.”
It added that whether she resisted the physical indulgence and if the sexual assault was against her wishes can be determined during the trial.
“…the victim kept quiet till her WhatsApp chat with the applicant was objected to, by the family members… The time gap between these two events is also crucial as it was always open for the victim to disclose (to) the aunt about the forcible act if it was committed in her house, but she continued to remain silent…,” the HC said.
Justice Dangre said, “When the applicant is also a young boy, the possibility of he also smitten by infatuation, cannot be ruled out and though he may take the consequences of the accusations levelled against him, at present, he need not be further incarcerated, when the trial may consume considerable time.”