The Bombay High Court on Monday allowed a bail application filed by one Makrand Bapardekar who has been accused of sexually assaulting his step daughters, one of whom is a minor, in a FIR registered with Andheri Police station following a complaint filed by his wife.
Justice Sandeep K Shinde was hearing Bapardekar's bail application in connection with FIR registered before the Andheri police station for the offences punishable under Sections 354, 354A of the Indian Penal Code, 1860 and Sections 8, 9(n) and 10 of the Protection of Children From Sexual Offences Act, 2012 (POCSO).
As per the complainant, after demise of her first husband, she got married to the applicant in June 2013 and started residing at the applicant's house with her two daughters. The couple have a daughter together who was born on June 11, 2019. It is alleged in the complaint that due to recurring quarrels and harassment caused to her by the applicant, the complainant left the matrimonial house in January 2019 and started living at her mother's house.
In April 2019, complainant's younger daughter from the first marriage narrated her ordeal of sexual abuse by her step-father (applicant), which, the complainant reported to Bhagwati Mahila Vikas Mandal in a complaint dated February 10, 2019. Besides, she had also lodged two complaints with Andheri Police Station under Sections 504 and 506 of the IPC against the applicant. Moreover, in May 2019, the complainant instituted proceedings against the applicant under the Domestic Violence Act.
The said complaint under DV Act states-
"Applicant states that the respondent used to insist her elder daughter from the first marriage to massage him on his person. He used to ask the younger step-daughter to sit on his lap and that he was doing so in front of the applicant though she protested illegalities committed by the respondent."
Appearing for the applicant accused, Advocate Aniket Nikam argued that the subject FIR has been filed nearly after six months of the alleged incident, to seek corroboration to averments/allegations in the domestic violence complaint. Nikam invited the Court's attention to the letter addressed by complainant's elder daughter from the first marriage to the Senior Inspector of the Police wherein she had alleged attempts by her mother to push her in the prostitution.
Therefore, the complainant's version is suspicious, particularly, in view of her elder daughter's complaint to police, which has not been enquired into. Furthermore, the investigation is over and the trial may not commence in the near future and by imposing suitable conditions, this Court can secure the presence of the applicant, Nikam contended.
Finally, Justice Shinde observed-
"After perusing relevant documents as pointed out and referred to hereinabove, in my view, a case is made out for releasing the applicant on bail. That even otherwise, investigation in the case is over. Offences punishable under Sections 354, 354A and Section 12 of the POCSO Act, may extend to 5 and 3 years respectively. In the circumstances, application is allowed and hence, the following order:
(i) The applicant is directed to be released on executing PR bond for the sum of Rs.30,000 with one or more sureties in like sum.
(ii) He shall furnish his permanent residential address and contact details to the Investigating Officer within seven days after the date of his release.
(iii) The applicant shall not tamper with the evidence or attempt to influence or contact the complainant, witnesses or any person concerned with the case"
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