Delhi court acquits youth of raping, kidnapping charges
A youth, accused of kidnapping and raping a minor with whom he got married, has been acquitted by a Delhi court which said he rather acted as a saviour and prevented the girl from being dragged into prostitution or illegal purposes by her parents.
New Delhi: A youth, accused of kidnapping and raping a minor with whom he got married, has been acquitted by a Delhi court which said he rather acted as a saviour and prevented the girl from being dragged into prostitution or illegal purposes by her parents.
The court allowed the youth to walk free, saying under the Protection of Children from Sexual Offences (POCSO) Act, maintaining physical relations with a child is an offence provided it is in the nature of an "assault" but here the 17-and-a-half-year-old girl had voluntarily gone with him and there was no fear or undue influence over her.
"It must be stated that in case of critical age between 16 years to 18 years, section 4 (penetrative sexual assault) of the POCSO Act has to be interpreted distinguishing between an act which is per se criminal for being in the nature of coercion, fear, inducement or exploitation committed upon a child from an act which would otherwise criminalise a person for having done something which is without any malice, ill will or ulterior motives.
"Here, the accused rather acted as a saviour preventing the girl child from the possibility of her being dragged to prostitution or immoral or illegal purposes," Additional Sessions Judge Dharmesh Sharma said.
The court noted that the girl had eloped and married the youth of her own as they were in love and her parents wanted to sell to someone for Rs 1.5 lakh and they had also shown her to several persons.
She had also told the court that she married the youth in a temple and thereafter they maintained physical relations.
According to the prosecution, a complaint was lodged by the girl's parents at R K Puram Police Station in May this year that she has been kidnapped with an intention to marry her or force her for sexual intercourse.
The girl was found after two days and the youth was arrested.
During the trial, the girl was kept in a women's reform home after she refused to go with her parents.
After decision of the case, the court directed reform home, Nirmal Chhaya, to release the girl so that she can join her husband.
The court closed the evidence in the case after recording the statement of the girl as she did not support the police theory and said she herself had gone with the youth.
While acquitting the youth of kidnapping charge, the judge said the girl was at the verge of majority when she decided to leave her parents and went away with the accused on her own and he cannot be said to have done an act of kidnapping the minor with a view to commit sexual assault.
The court said the fact that the youth has married the girl absolves him of the charge for committing penetrative sexual assault under the POCSO Act.
"In some of my earlier judgements in such kind of elopement cases where marriage too was performed, I have elaborated that a meaning perusal of the objects and reasons of the POCSO Act would show that the present enactment aims to curb such acts of sexual assault or harassment that are likely to bring an irreparable impact on the mental, physical and psychological health, freedom and dignity of a child.
"Thus, bare perusal of the said provision provides that sexual intercourse with a child is punishable under Section 4 of the POCSO Act provided it is in the nature of an assault. Suffice to state that the girl in her evidence categorically testified that accused did not subject her to any kind of cruelty, fear, undue influence nor he intimidated her in any manner and it is nobody's case that she was exploited in any manner," the judge said.
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