Read Order: X (Minor) vs. State of Jharkhand

Pankaj Bajpai

New Delhi, February 28, 2022: Finding that the victim was barely thirteen years of age on the date when the alleged offence of rape took place, the Supreme Court has opined that the circumstances namely that “there was a love affair” between the victim and the accused as well as the alleged refusal of accused to marry the victim, would have no bearing on the grant of bail in POCSO matter.

A Division Bench of Dr. Justice D.Y Chandrachud and Justice Surya Kant highlighted that having regard to the age of the prosecutrix and the nature and gravity of the crime, no case for the grant of bail was established. 

Going by the background of the case, an FIR came to be registered at Kanke Police Station for offences punishable u/s 376 of IPC and Section 6 of the Protection of Children from Sexual Offences Act (POCSO) 2012.  The complaint of the victim (petitioner) alleges that, at the material time, when she was a minor, the accused (second respondent) had taken her to a residential hotel and had entered into a sexual relationship on the assurance of marrying her. The complaint further recites that the second respondent was refusing to marry her and that he had sent certain obscene videos to her father. 

Accordingly, the accused filed an application for anticipatory bail, which was rejected by the Special Judge, POCSO, Ranchi. Later, the accused surrendered and thereafter, the Single Judge of the High Court of Jharkhand allowed the bail application observing that the case appears to have been instituted only on the point of refusal of the petitioner to solemnize marriage with the informant (victim – petitioner).   

After considering the submissions, the Top Court observed that the High Court was manifestly in error in allowing the application for bail. 

The reason that from the statement u/s 164 and the averments in the FIR, it appears that “there was a love affair” between the appellant and the second respondent and that the case was instituted on the refusal of the second respondent to marry the appellant, is specious added the Court.  

The Apex Court therefore mentioned that the order of the High Court granting bail has to be interfered with since the circumstances which prevailed with the High Court are extraneous in view of the age of the prosecutrix, having regard to the provisions of Section 376 of IPC and Section 6 of POCSO.

Accordingly, the Apex Court set aside the order of the High Court allowing the bail application and directed the second respondent to surrender forthwith to custody.

The Apex Court also requested the Special Judge, POCSO, who is in-charge of the trial, to complete the trial within a period of six months. 

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