The Gujarat High Court on Wednesday granted bail to a man accused of sexually harassing a 17-year-old girl.
In doing so, Justice SH Vora considered it a "mitigating circumstance" that the accused and the minor girl were allegedly involved in a love affair and that the girl went along with the accused of her own volition.
"Having heard submissions made at bar and considering the chargesheet papers supplied by the learned A.P.P. during the course of hearing as well as considering the statement of Ms. Bhavikaben recorded on 17.09.2018, there appears love affair between the victim girl and the appellant. The charge sheet is filed.
No doubt, the victim girl went to with the appellant-accused on her own and, therefore, such facts being mitigating factors, learned trial Judge ought to have considered bail application of the appellant and, therefore, present appeal deserves consideration," the court observed, granting him bail.
The court had been approached by one Sikandar Abulhasan Ansari, who had been accused under Sections 363, 366 and 376 of the Indian Penal Code, and Sections 3 and 4 of the Protection of Children from Sexual Offences (PCSO) Act, 2012.
He had filed an appeal under Section 14-A of the Scheduled Castes and Scheduled Tribes (Prevention of Atrocities) Act, 1989, challenging the rejection of his bail application by the Special Judge, POCSO. The court was told that the appellant and the prosecutrix were in love with each other and that she had accompanied the appellant out of her own free will.
The State, on the other hand, had asserted that the issue of consent does not come into picture as the prosecutrix was 17 and a half years old at the time of the incident and therefore was a minor.
The court, however, opined that the appeal merited consideration and went on to quash the impugned order. It then granted him bail, on execution of bond of Rs. 10,000 with one surety of like amount to the satisfaction of the Trial Court.
Read the Order Here