17 Sep 2021 6:45 AM GMT
Adjudicating upon an unfortunate case where a teen committed suicide due to sexual harassment by a close family member, the Bombay High Court observed that we, as a society, have failed to create an environment where primary caregivers can identify signs of abuse. Justice Bharati Dangre rejected a man's bail application for allegedly abetting his 17-year-old niece's suicide. The...
Adjudicating upon an unfortunate case where a teen committed suicide due to sexual harassment by a close family member, the Bombay High Court observed that we, as a society, have failed to create an environment where primary caregivers can identify signs of abuse.
Justice Bharati Dangre rejected a man's bail application for allegedly abetting his 17-year-old niece's suicide. The teen reportedly jumped out of her high rise apartment's balcony minutes after handing over her phone with objectionable messages to her mother.
"Sexual violence know[s] no boundaries. It occurs in every country, across all parts of society… Unfortunately, we have not been able to create an atmosphere in the Society where Parents, teachers and adults in company of the child can identify signs of abuse and make sure children receive care and protection," the Court said.
"For the deceased, who was not an adult, but a child, her adolescent years were shaped by harrowing experience that left her with irreversible and irreparable memories. The fear of stigma, not being believed and being blamed, found her in a precarious situation, left her isolated and insecure and which persuaded her to end her life," the court observed.
The court observed that a child might be subjected to sexual abuse or exploitation at home too. Moreover, the widespread use of digital technology can also put children at risk.
"At times, the abuse occurs at the hands of someone a child knows and trusts. Any form of sexual violence result in severe physical, psychological harm."
Justice Dangre said that the accused, a matured, married man, did not deserve liberty. Moreover, his close proximity with the victim's family meant there was every likelihood that the applicant may pressurize the prosecution witnesses and tamper with the case on his release.
Facts of the Case
On September 6 2020, the victim's mother received a message from her daughter's friend about a cousin uncle sending the victim "dirty messages". When the mother confronted the victim, she showed her screenshots in a hidden folder in the phone and then ran out and jumped from the 4th floor balcony of their high rise. She succumbed to her injuries a month later, on October 17 2020, in a private hospital.
The next day, September 7, the mother found a note in her daughter's dresser. The note talks about the accused's ill deeds and justifies the belated explanation to her mother, finally bidding adieu.
Considering the accused was a close family friend, the FIR was finally registered after 96 days invoking Sections 306, 354A, 354-B of the IPC and Section 4 and 8 of the POCSO Act.
Senior Advocate Aabad Ponda argued that what happened was very unfortunate but his client couldn't be faulted for the suicide. Even if it was assumed that the accused erred in texting the girl it would be a moral blunder. Moreover, suicide was not the only option left with the girl and the were other ways in which the issue could be resolved, he argued.
Justice Dangre disagreed,
"The note is scribed by the deceased few hours before she took the extreme step and is an expression of despair and her anguish; it reflect her desperation and pain… She is a girl in formative years and her writing give an impression that she feel trapped," the court held.
"It is possible that any other girl in similar circumstances would have responded to the situation in a different way, but as stated above, the applicant was her own uncle and considering the close association of the family with him, there was an absolute inhibition on her part to blame him and embroil him in accusation. The screen shots from the mobile make it apparent that the applicant was harassing the deceased and inspite of her strong protest, was seeking something from her, leaving her in a despondent state."
Case Title: Gaurav s/o Sopan Narkhede v. State of Maharashtra
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