The Supreme Court on Wednesday acquitted a person arrested on charges of kidnapping and raping a minor girl.
The Bench of Justice S. Ravindra Bhat and Justice Aravind Kumar granted bail to the person arrested under the Protection of Children from Sexual Offences (POCSO) Act and the Juvenile Justice Act.
The Bench observed that the girl had eloped with the appellant on her own wish and thus, the appellant was not guilty of the offences he was charged with.
Setting aside the Madras High Court order, the Apex Court directed that the appellant shall be set at liberty forthwith unless required in connection with any other case.
The appeal was allowed, but without order on costs, the Bench noted in its order.
The top court of the country took note of the girl’s statement recorded under Section 164 of the Code of Criminal Procedure (CrPC), 1973.
The girl recorded in her statement that she had known the accused for about a year and they both loved each other. The fact was known to her father and grandmother, who objected
to their relationship. This led to her consuming rat poison to commit suicide; however, she was hospitalised and treated.
She further stated that she eloped
with the appellant voluntarily- a fact known to her aunt and her sister. She said the appellant and his relatives solemnised her marriage with him, and they lived as a married couple.
According to her, when they were living together, the police came in search of her, after which she came
to know that her father had filed a police complaint.
She further clarified that she was never abducted nor married forcibly and that she married the appellant as per her wishes.
Earlier, the trial court had held the appellant guilty under Section 6 of the POCSO Act and sentenced him to undergo rigorous imprisonment for life.
The High Court of Madras modified the conviction by reducing the life imprisonment to 10 years rigorous imprisonment under the POCSO Act.
The High Court further convicted under Section 10 of the Prohibition of Child Marriage Act, 2006.
It acquitted the appellant from the charge under Section 366 of the IPC and set aside the sentence.