When 25-year-old Kiran Bhave let a friend stay at his place with his girlfriend, little did he expect to land behind bars.
Bhave was arrested on May 10 for not informing the police about his friend staying over with a minor girl.
The Pydhonie police have booked Bhave under a littleknown provision of the stringent Protection of Children against Sexual Offence (POCSO) Act, under which not reporting an offender to the police is a crime.
Bhave’s friend, 21, had been booked under POCSO for eloping with a 17-year-old girl. However, the Nallasopara resident claims he was not aware that she was a minor.
“Young people should know if they are breaking the law while helping a friend,” said Sunil Kawlekar, senior inspector, Pydhonie police station.
The POCSO came into effect in 2012, and not many are aware of its provisions. This helped Bhave get bail from the sessions court on May 15.
Bhave’s advocate Prakash Salsingikar argued that section 43 (a) of the POCSO Act says the Centre and state must take measures to ensure the public is made aware of its provisions. But we hardly see such awareness drives being carried out, and hence the general population is ignorant about the law, he said.
“It is a section even the police use rarely. I told the court my client did not know the girl’s age. He had no idea he was committing a crime by letting the two stay at his home,” said Salsingikar.
Salsingikar added that Bhave got married on April 21, and assumed the couple had come to his house to wish him. He let them stay over as it was late at night.