Tuesday, December 6, 2022

Teenagers involved in romantic affair do not fall under the ambit of POCSO: Allahabad High Court

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The Allahabad High Court has granted bail to a man, who married a 14-year-old girl, while observing that the
scheme of the Protection of Children from Sexual Offences Act (POCSO) did not intend to bring within its scope,
cases where adolescents or teenagers were involved “in dense romantic affair”.

The Single-Judge Bench of Justice Rahul Chaturvedi granted bail to Atul Mishra, stating that it would be extremely harsh and inhuman to devoid the baby from parental love and affection on account of the fact that both the accused and minor victim loved each other and decided to got married.

Atul had eloped with a 14-year-old girl and got married at a temple. The minor later gave birth to a baby.

The Bench further observed that the enactment of POCSO Act was to effectively address the heinous
crime of sexual abuse and sexual exploitation of children.

Even today, the applicant was more than ready to keep his wife and baby with him and would take good care of both, the Court noted and granted bail to him.

The case was filed in November, 2019, when the father of the girl lodged a First Information Report against Mishra, alleging that his minor daughter was enticed away by the applicant.

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Mishra was booked for rape under Section 376 of the Indian Penal Code (IPC) and for offences under Sections 3
(penetrative sexual assault) and 4 (punishment for penetrative sexual assault) of POCSO Act, 2012 along with
provisions under the Scheduled Castes and Scheduled Tribes (Prevention of Atrocities) Act, 1989.

On October 10, 2021 after getting a tip from the informer, police arrested the accused, who was found along with the girl and the baby.

Since on the date of incident the victim was minor, she was sent to Rajkiya Balgirh (Balika) Khuldabad,
Prayagaraj and Mishra was sent to jail.

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After the Additional Sessions Judge/Special Judge (POCSO Act), Fatehpur rejected the bail application of the applicant in November, 2021, he moved the High Court.

The High Court remarked that the object of the Act must have some genuine and inherent exceptions
too and it was imperative for the Court of law to draw a thin line that demarcates the nature of acts that
should not be made to fall within the scope of this enactment.

The Court granted bail to the applicant and also directed the In-Charge of Rajkiya Balgrih (Balika) Khuldabad, to release the victim with her baby.

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