Saturday, September 30, 2023

Allahabad High Court grants conditional bail to rape-accused minor in Chitrakoot district

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The Allahabad High Court has granted conditional bail to a minor accused of raping a 38-year-old married woman and making her pornographic videos viral.

The Single-Judge Bench of Justice Jyotsna Sharma passed this order, while hearing a Criminal Revision filed by a minor through his father.

The criminal revision has been filed for setting aside the order dated 09.12.2021 passed by Principal Magistrate Juvenile Justice Board, Chitrakoot and order dated 15.01.2022 passed by Special Judge (POCSO Act)/ Additional Sessions Judge, Chitrakoot in Criminal Appeal affirming the order of JJ Board declining bail to the juvenile in case under Sections 452, 328, 376 and 506 IPC and Section 66 Information Technology Act, PS Pahadi, District Chitrakoot.

As per the prosecution, the victim, a woman aged around 38 years, was ravished by this juvenile on the night of 10.08.2021, who entered her house by scaling the wall. At that time, the woman was staying with her mother-in-law and father-in-law; it was stated in the FIR that she was administered some intoxicating substance and became unconscious; thereafter, the juvenile raped her and also made an obscene video. The victim said she did not disclose the incident to her husband or anybody else as the juvenile threatened to publish her obscene video and also threatened her life on the same pretext. After about 25 days from the date of incident that obscene video somehow reached her husband, thereafter she decided to lodge the FIR.

The victim was medically examined. No external or internal injury was found on her. Her statements under Sections 161 and 164 CrPC were recorded, in which she supported the version of the FIR.

Finding the accused a juvenile matter was brought before the JJ Board where age determination enquiry was conducted and he was found aged about 17 years and five months on the date of occurrence. His bail application was rejected by the JJ Board and the appeal filed on his behalf was also dismissed by the appellate court. Now the juvenile through his father and natural guardian is before the Court in this criminal revision.

It is contended on behalf of the revisionist that besides ignoring broader principles of law as applicable in the matter of bail to the juvenile and further ignoring the mandate of Section 12(1) of the JJ Act, 2015, the JJ Board as well as appellate court altogether ignored the relevant facts and circumstances of the case including the fact that the medical evidence refuted the FIR version and that no reliable evidence was found to even make out a case under Sections 452, 328, 376 and 506 IPC.

It is also contended that the victim is a married lady having six children and that it was not at all possible for a boy about 17 years of age to forcefully ravish her in her own house and not catch the attention of persons staying in the same house. The story is fanciful and improbable and the juvenile has been implicated in this case with ulterior motives.

It is also contended that no fact adverse to his release was found in the social investigation report and that the juvenile has no criminal history or no criminal tendencies, therefore, JJ Board as well as the appellate court were not right in declining bail to the juvenile.

The Additional Government Advocate has opposed prayer for bail.

“This fact is not disputed that in this case an incident which allegedly took place on the night of 10.08.2021 FIR was lodged after a gap of one month and six days. The reason given by the victim herself in the FIR for delayed lodging brings this incident as quite suspicious. The statement given by the victim to the IO under Section 161 CrPC cannot be believed as it gives an inherently weak story. This fact is also not disputable that the social investigation report mentions nothing negative about the character and conduct of the juvenile. The people of the locality gave positive reactions about him. The juvenile has had no criminal history and is in custody since 21.09.2021 that is more than a year now.

I went through the order of the JJ Board. It appears that JJ Board believed the prosecution story in one sided manner for declining bail to the juvenile. I also went through the order of the appellate court. The appellate court concurred with the inference given by the JJ Board and declined bail on the basis of certain presumptions and conjunctures. It appears that he had no previous criminal history. There is no material to suggest that in case he is released on bail, the ends of justice shall be defeated. Further there is no material to suggest that he may associate with persons of criminal antecedents or that he may be put to moral, physical or psychological danger”, the Court observed while allowing the petition.

The Court ordered that,

The order dated 09.12.2021 passed by Principal Magistrate Juvenile Justice Board, Chitrakoot and order dated 15.01.2022 passed by Special Judge (POCSO Act)/ Additional Sessions Judge, Chitrakoot are hereby set aside.

Let the revisionist, minor through his natural guardian/father Sushil Kumar resident of village Deval Chaura, police station Pahadi, District Chitrakoot, be released on bail in Case under Sections 452, 328, 376 and 506 IPC and Section 66 Information Technology Act, P.S Pahadi, District Chitrakoot upon his father Sushil Kumar furnishing a personal bond with two solvent sureties of his relatives, each in the like amount to the satisfaction of the Juvenile Justice Board, Chitrakoot subject to the following conditions:

(i) that the natural guardian/father Sri Sushil Kumar will furnish an undertaking that upon release on bail the juvenile will not be permitted to come into contact or have association with any known criminal or allowed to be exposed to any moral, physical or psychological danger and further that the father will ensure that the juvenile will not indulge in any criminal activity;

(ii) The revisionist shall not tamper with the evidence or threaten the witnesses;

(iii) The revisionist through guardian shall also file an undertaking to the effect that he shall not seek any adjournment on the date fixed for evidence when the witnesses are present in court;

(iv) The District Probation Officer will keep strict vigil on the activities of the revisionist and regularly draw up his social investigation report that would be submitted to the Juvenile Justice Board, Chitrakoot on such periodical basis as the Juvenile Justice Board may determine.

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