bail in 13 yrs old rape case

In a rape case of a 13-year-old, Bombay HC grants bail to the accused asserting that accused’s relationship as attraction, not assault driven by lust

Introduction: X v. State of Maharashtra (Criminal Application (BA) No. 718 of 2023) involves an application for bail under Section 439 of the Code of Criminal Procedure filed by, the applicant, who is accused of multiple offenses, including rape of a 13-year-old girl.

Facts of the Case: The victim, a 13-year-old girl, went missing on August 23, 2020. Her father reported her disappearance, and after an investigation, it was revealed that she had voluntarily left her house and joined the applicant, with whom she allegedly had a romantic relationship. The applicant was arrested on August 30, 2020, and subsequently, a charge-sheet was filed against him.

Contention of the Petitioner: The applicant sought bail on the grounds that there was a consensual love affair between him and the victim. He argued that the victim willingly left her parent’s house and joined him, and there was no evidence of forceful sexual intercourse. The applicant, being 26 years old, claimed that the alleged incident arose out of mutual attraction between two young individuals.

Response of the Respondent: The State opposed the bail application, asserting that the victim’s age made her consent irrelevant. It was argued that despite her leaving the house voluntarily, the accused, being a mature person, subjected her to forceful sexual intercourse. The State expressed concerns that releasing the applicant on bail could lead to tampering with prosecution evidence.

Court’s Observation: The Court noted that the victim had voluntarily left her home, and statements recorded during the investigation suggested a consensual relationship between the victim and the accused. The court observed, “It seems that, the alleged incident of sexual relationship is out of the attraction between the two young persons, and it is not the case that applicant has subjected the victim for a sexual assault out of lust.”

The Court highlighted the delay in trial since the charge-sheet filing. Acknowledging the victim’s age, it deemed her consent irrelevant. However, the Court based its decision on the investigating officer’s statements that suggested her voluntary departure. The Court concluded the incident seemed a result of a consensual relationship between two young individuals rather than a forceful assault.

Court’s Decision: The Court allowed the bail application and ordered the release the applicant on bail upon executing a personal recognizance bond of Rs. 25,000 with one solvent surety of a similar amount. The Court imposed certain conditions, including restrictions on entering a specified jurisdiction and non-inducement of witnesses.

-By Adv. Deeksha Rai

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