While upholding the acquittal of a Muslim man, the Delhi High Court noted that his physical relationship with a 15-year-old wife cannot be termed as rape.
The division bench comprising Justice Suresh Kumar Kait and Justice Neena Bansal Krishna upheld the trial court order wherein the man was acquitted.
The trial court had noted that no offence under Section 6 read with Section 5(1) of POCSO Act was made out against the man in view of the testimony of the child victim wherein she admitted that she got married to him in December 2014 and only thereafter did they have a physical relationship.
The High Court bench stated, “We find that since the child victim was the wife who was almost fifteen years of age, the physical relationship of the respondent with the victim, cannot be termed as rape. The respondent has been rightly acquitted.”
The court rejected a request from the prosecution to appeal the verdict issued by the trial court on November 15, 2016. The verdict acquitted the man of the charge of rape as defined in Section 376 of the Indian Penal Code.
In the First Information Report, it was alleged that the man, who was the brother-in-law of the victim, committed rape on her during October and November 2014.
During the trial proceedings, the victim testified that in December 2014, she, along with her mother, sister, and the accused, had traveled to their native place in Bihar to participate in the wedding of their cousin sister. She explained that following the wedding events, she entered into marriage with the accused. The victim claimed that her parents were uninformed about her union with the accused.
After knowing about the pregnancy of the victim, her mother went to the police station to file a complaint. In the statement given by the victim under Section 164 of CrPC, she submitted that the accused had never committed any wrong before their marriage.
On the other hand, the mother of the minor victim stated in the court that the accused married her without her consent.
Noting that it found no ground for grant of Leave to Appeal against the trial court’s order acquitting the man, the Court dismissed the application.
“The learned ASJ had rightly observed that in view of the testimony of the child that she got married to the respondent in the month of December, 2014 and only thereafter did they have physical relationship, no offence under Section 6 read with Section 5(1) of POCSO Act was made out and the respondent was rightly acquitted,” the High Court said.