Bombay High Court has granted bail to a man from Kolhapur who was booked for raping his friend’s minor sister. While granting bail, the court observed that "it is necessary to note that the victim had attained the age of 16 years and 6 months and ought to be aware of the nature and the consequences of the act."
The bench of Justice CV Bhadang also added, "There are circumstances to indicate that there was no element of force or coercion at the instance of the accused in having physical relations with the victim. It is significant to note that the medical report shows that the accused had even used protection (condom) during the relationship."
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While granting bail, Justice Bhadang also noted that the investigation is complete and the chargesheet is filed. "The accused is in custody for about two years and six months. I do not find that detention of the accused behind bars is warranted pending trial," said Justice Bhadang.
The bench was hearing a bail application filed by Rohit Sukate, who was arrested by the Kolhapur police on September 9, 2019 and had been in custody since then.
Justice Bhadang stated that while the victim was below 18 years of age, making her a minor under the Protection of Children from Sexual Offences (POCSO), it is necessary to note that at 16.6 years, the victim was aware of the consequences of her action.
According to the prosecution case, the victim was 16 years and 6 months of age at the relevant time when the FIR was lodged by her father. The accused was the victim's friend's brother and was acquainted with him.
In May 2019, the victim stated that the accused had called her behind her house and there he forcibly raped her on the pretext that he was in love with her and wanted to marry her.
This continued for a few months and eventually, the victim's father learnt about the relationship in the first week of September 2019 and filed an FIR against the accused. The accused was arrested on September 9 and had been behind bars since then.
Arguing on behalf of the accused, his advocate Paras Yadav pointed out that though the victim was a minor, she had attained the age of understanding the nature and the consequences of the act. He further relied upon the medical reports of the victim, which he said indicated that the relationship was consensual.
Countering the contentions, additional public prosecutor A R Kapadnis argued that the victim was a "child" within the Protection of Children from Sexual Offences (POCSO) act and that the accused abused her sexually on multiple occasions.