‘14-year-old was mature enough’: HC grants bail to Pocso accused
The concept of consent is irrelevant under the Protection of Children from Sexual Offences (Pocso) Act, 2012, but the high court is empowered to pass orders necessary to secure the ends of justice, the Bombay high court (HC) said on Monday while granting bail to a city resident arrested for raping a minor.
Justice Sandeep Shinde granted bail to the rape accused primarily on the grounds that apparently the 14-year-old survivor was mature enough and the acts were consensual.
“Looking into the case of the prosecution, prima facie I am of the view that the victim possessed the mental capacity to actively understand the nature, circumstances and consequences of the act to which she had consented,” said justice Shinde.
The accused was arrested by Nehru Nagar police in Kurla on July 10, 2019, following statement given by the survivor to police that she was raped by the married man and three others.
The survivor’s stepmother had lodged a missing complaint on June 14, 2019 after the minor left her house as she was purportedly fed up of the harassment meted out by the complainant. After leaving home, she travelled to Chennai and then returned to Mumbai. She was raped by the four accused separately at different places during this time.
Justice Shinde noted that the 14-year-old left her house voluntarily and accompanied more than one person to different places. She met a stranger in Chennai and returned to Mumbai with him and his friend.
Her statement further revealed that after returning to Mumbai she met one Hussain and had consensual relationship with him. Thereafter, somebody handed her over to Mulund police station, but she introduced a stranger as her family member and went with him.
In addition, the minor, born to a Muslim couple, had changed both her name and religion and got it declared by Gazette publication. All these revelations prompted HC to believe that the 14-year-old was capable of understanding the nature and consequences of the acts that she consented to.
HC has, thus, ordered Navghare to be released on submitting personal bond of ₹30,000.