The willingness of a minor, classified as a person below 18 years of age, is not considered as consent for sexual intercourse under the law, ruled the Bombay high court while upholding the conviction of a 37-year-old man from Latur district who raped a minor girl.
In 1997, the then Class 10 student, aged between 15 and 16 years, met Bhima Sontakke, who made false promises of marriage to her. In October 1997, Sontakke took her to various places and allegedly had intercourse with her.
Acting on a complaint lodged by the victim’s father in November 1997, the Latur police arrested Sontakke. In August 1999, a local court convicted him for various offences including rape and kidnapping, and sentenced him to five years of rigorous imprisonment.
Sontakke appealed before the Aurangabad bench of the Bombay high court contending that the girl had willingly come with him, and since they engaged in consensual sex, he should not have been convicted of rape and kidnapping.
Justice SS Shinde, however, refused to oppose the trial court’s stand on the matter. The trial court asserted that since the girl was a minor at the relevant time, her willingness could not be termed as consent.
Shinde took into consideration that despite being married, the convict made false promises of marriage to the girl to have sexual intercourse with her.
The court upheld Sontakke’s conviction for kidnapping saying that the consent of a minor cannot be used as a defence in kidnapping cases.