The Bombay high court, in a recent order, granted bail to a 26-year- old man accused of kidnapping a minor girl and charged under the Protection of Children from Sexual Offences (POCSO) Act. The court observed that though the girl was a minor, she eloped with the accused willingly. It added that as she was an ‘educated college student,’ she must have been “aware of the consequences of her action.”
A bench of justices VK Tahilramani and Revati Mohite-Dere said the 17-year-old voluntarily accompanied the accused, Aarif Shaikh, from Nashik to Gujarat, and had stayed with him for more than a fortnight, during which, she did not try to escape or seek help from anyone.
Shaikh had approached the high court challenging a trial court order that had refused him bail on the primary ground that he had been charged under the stringent provisions of the POCSO act. He said the girl and he were in a consensual relationship and she only registered a complaint against him at the behest of her parents.
“The girl stayed with the applicant for many days. She did not make any attempt to flee or to seek help from anyone. She told us that when she boarded the bus to go to Gujarat, she did not ask for help because Shaikh told her not to talk to anyone. This appears to be a lame excuse that she came up with as an afterthought,” the bench said.
“The minor was a college-going girl at the time of the incident. Thus, it appears that she was well-aware of the nature and consequences of her actions. In view of this, we are inclined to grant bail to the applicant,” the bench said.