28 Jan 2022 3:32 AM GMT
A girl child is not property that can be donated, the Bombay High Court (Aurangabad Bench) observed during a bail hearing after it noticed a 'danpatra' according to which the rape victim's father had allegedly donated her to a self-proclaimed godman. Justice Vibha Kankanwadi directed the Child Welfare Committee (CWC) to ascertain if the teen was fit to be declared as a 'child in need...
A girl child is not property that can be donated, the Bombay High Court (Aurangabad Bench) observed during a bail hearing after it noticed a 'danpatra' according to which the rape victim's father had allegedly donated her to a self-proclaimed godman.
Justice Vibha Kankanwadi directed the Child Welfare Committee (CWC) to ascertain if the teen was fit to be declared as a 'child in need of care and protection' as contemplated under Section 2(14) of the Juvenile Justice (Care and Protection of Children) Act.
"When the girl as per her own statement is minor, then why the father who is in all respect guardian of the girl should give the girl as Daan? A girl is not a property which can be given in donation…This Court is concerned with the future of the minor girl and in view of such document coming forward, can't shut the eyes," the HC observed.
The 'danpatra' came to light during the bail hearing of two villagers, whom the teen accused of gang rape. The men were booked under Sections 376, 376(D), 341, 323 of Indian Penal Code and under Sections 4, 6, 8 and 12 of the Protection of Children from Sexual Offences Act.
However, the HC granted them bail after the accused produced documents to show that the case was a fallout of resolutions passed by villagers to oust the self-proclaimed godman and his devotees (including the girl and her father) from the temple premises. In addition, the villagers claimed the godman was a bad influence on the village youth.
In its order, the HC noted that the accused's custody was not required as the charge sheet was filed and the investigation was completed.
"Before parting, a fact which has come on record through the respondent No.2 (father) is worth noting and disturbing," the bench said about the Danpatra.
The document styled as 'Danpatra,' was executed on Rs. 100 stamp paper between the girl's father and the godman. It stated that the girl's father had given his daughter in donation (Daan) to the Baba, and the Kanyadan was done in god's presence.
The court then directed the father to file an affidavit about the incident. The man initially failed to file the affidavit citing his ill health. However, after he was found to be lying, an affidavit was filed.
Justice Kankanwadi noted that the godman and not the father filed the affidavit.
According to the affidavit, the godman had adopted the girl in 2018; however, the adoption process was underway. While the document also stated that the girl was living with the father, it was utterly silent on what prompted the father to give his daughter up for adoption.
Wondering the need for a 'danpantra' if it was a genuine adoption, the court directed the CWC to ascertain if the teen needed shelter.
The bench recorded the CWC's powers under Section 29 of the JJ Act. It noted that the CWC can hear cases for the care, protection, treatment, development and rehabilitation of children in need of care and protection, as well as to provide for their basic needs and protection.
Further Section 30 of the Act dealt with the CWC's functions and responsibilities which included conducting inquiries on issues concerning the safety and well-being of children.
Justice Kankanwadi noted that she was passing these directions to secure the 17-year-old from being driven into any illegal activity in the future.
Case Title - Shankeshwar @ Shambhu s/o Bhausaheb Dhakne vs The State of Maharashtra & Anr.
Case No: BA 1366/2021
Citation – 2022 LiveLaw (Bom) 22
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