Shocked over an incident wherein a girl, who was allegedly sexually assaulted and ravaged was left on a railway platform, the Bombay High Court has recently ordered the Mumbai Police to trace the alleged rape victim, a minor, who lives on one of the platforms of suburban Andheri railway station.
A single-judge bench of Justice Bharati Dangre slammed the city police for failing to ensure that the girl is traced and protected and shifted to some rehabilitation center.
“There are legislations, which mandate the State in consonance with the imperative mandate contained in the Directive Principles of State Policy, to ensure that the youth is not exploited,” the bench remarked.
The above observations were made during the hearing of a bail application filed by a man booked for raping the minor girl, in a moving autorickshaw. As per the prosecution case, the girl, who lives on Andheri station’s platform was acquainted with an autorickshaw driver, who allegedly raped her along with his brother.
The man, who sought bail, was caught red-handed while sexually assaulting the victim in a moving rickshaw. The rickshaw was intercepted by a motorist, who heard the girl’s cries when the rickshaw stopped near a traffic signal.
When inquired, the auto-rickshaw driver responded by saying that his vehicle was having passengers, however, as the cries of the girl continued, he pulled out the curtain of the auto-rickshaw and noticed that one man was forcing himself upon a girl, noticing this, he asked the person to come out of the auto-rickshaw and when he refused, he pulled him out.
At that time, the traffic police reached there and the said person was apprehended. The apprehended person is the instant Bail Applicant.
The statement of the victim girl was recorded, wherein she submitted that she was 16 years, however, the court noted that not a single document was filed to establish that the girl is of 16 years, and the Investigating Officer did not conduct any ossification test. The girl claimed that she was given beer and food by the men and later raped.
The Applicant was arraigned as an accused under Sections 354, 363, and 376 of the Indian Penal Code and Sections 8 and 12 of the Protection of Children from Sexual Offences Act, 2012 (POCSO Act).
In his defense, the man claimed that the girl was actively involved in the flesh trade and had even aborted a feotus earlier.
At the outset, the court observed that “Some strange things have surfaced, which surely calls for introspection of all the stakeholders dealing with issues of women, particularly minor girls.”
During the hearing, the bench sought to know from the investigating officer regarding the whereabouts of the victim.
At this, the officer present in the courtroom told the judge that the victim continues to live on the platform.
“It is surprising, rather shocking to note that a girl, who had met with a sexual assault and ravage is left on a railway platform in such a manner,” Justice Dangre said.
The bench further noted that the investigating officer seems to be unaware of any of the provisions of the law.
“This would have ensured the girl to be taken to some rehabilitation center,” the judge said, adding, “It is expected that at least now, some corrective steps be taken to trace the victim girl and take necessary steps,” said the HC judge.
Further, the Court adjourned the matter till April 15, while directing the cops to conduct an ossification test to ascertain the probable age of the victim since there is no evidence to prove her as a minor.