While granting bail to a 22-year-old man, the Bombay High Court noted that the Protection of Children From Sexual Offences Act (POCSO) was enacted to protect minors from sexual assault, not to punish minors in romantic or consensual relationships and brand them as criminals.
The bench comprising Justice Anuja Prabhudessai granted bail to the 22 year old man who was accused of kidnapping and raping a minor under Section 363, Section 376 of the Indian Penal Code and Section 4 of the POCSO Act.
“It needs to be noted that the POCSO Act has been enacted to protect children from offences of sexual assault, sexual harassment etc., and contains stringent penal provisions as to safe guard the interest and the well-being of the children. The object is certainly not to punish minors in romantic or consensual relationship and brand them as criminals,” The bench stated.
Justice Prabhudessai was of the view that if the girl was a minor under Section 2(d) of the POCSO Act, the accused was also a young boy.
“The Applicant is in custody since 17/02/2021. The trial has not yet commenced and considering the large pendency, the trial is not likely to commence in immediate future. Detaining the Applicant further will bring him in association with hardened criminals which will also be detrimental to his interest,” the bench said.
The mother of the girl filed a complaint in December after she went missing. Then, the girl was traced and it was found that she stayed with her friend for 2-3 days. She left the house on December 27, 2020 and was afraid to return home. It was alleged that the boy asked her to come on the terrace one night and had forceful intercourse with her.
Considering the boy was in jail for over a year and there are large number of pending cases, the bench granted him bail on the following conditions
- Released on cash bail of Rs.30,000/- for a period of four weeks within which he must furnish PR bonds in the sum of Rs.30,000/- with one or two solvent sureties in the like amount.
- Report to Dindoshi Police Station, Mumbai once in two months on the 1st Monday of the month between 11.00 a.m. to 02.00 p.m. until further orders.
- Not interfere with the complainant and the other witnesses and shall not tamper with the evidence or attempt to influence or contact the complainant.
- Keep the Trial Court informed of his current address and mobile contact number.