Read Order: Jatinder Singh v. State of Punjab
Chandigarh, February 16, 2022: In a case pertaining to the Protection of Children from Sexual Offence Act, 2012, the Punjab and Haryana High Court has denied the grant of bail to the accused-petitioners who were alleged to have outraged the modesty of a minor.
The Bench of Justice Rajesh Bhardwaj opined in this respect, “Co-accused Supriya though has been extended the benefit of anticipatory bail, however, the Court cannot turn blind eye to the overall facts and circumstances of the case wherein one of the co-accused, namely, Jaspreet Singh Bains is still evading the arrest.”
The denial of bail was also on the ground that there was a presumption against the accused under Sections 29 and 30 of the Protection of Children from Sexual Offence Act, 2012 (POCSO Act), and that from the FIR, the prima facie complicity of the accused-petitioners was reflected.
The Court was approached with two petitions under Section 439 Cr.P.C. praying for grant of regular bail to the petitioners in an FIR registered under Sections 354, 354-A IPC, Sections 384 and 120-B IPC added, later on, Section 506 IPC for which charges were framed and Section 8 of the POCSO Act.
The prosecutrix (16-year-old) filed a complaint to the Child Welfare Committee alleging therein that when she resided in a rented accommodation, the landlord’s son tried to commit a forcible objectionable act with her. She also alleged that she was forced into consuming alcohol, smoking cigarettes and other injections containing intoxicants. It was also her allegation that her objectionable videos were recorded and later uploaded. She was also allegedly blackmailed with these videos for extortion of money. Thus, the present petitioners were eventually arrested. They approached the Court of Additional Sessions Judge for the grant of bail, but the same was rejected by her.
It was the case of the petitioner’s counsel that the allegations levelled against the accused were baseless and uncorroborated by medical or any other pieces of evidence. The counsel contended that it was due to the dispute of the landlord-tenant that the present FIR was lodged after three years. He also argued that even the DNA Report prepared with the swabs collected by the Investigating Agency was found to be negative.
Further, he submitted that both the petitioners were languishing in jail since February 2020 and that the prosecutrix was already examined, thus doing away with the apprehension of the petitioners influencing the case witnesses. Lastly, the counsel contended that one of the co-accused (who allegedly made objectionable videos of the prosecutrix) was already granted bail, hence he prayed for grant of similar relief to the present petitioners as well.
On the contrary, the State counsel argued that the accused in the first petition outraged the modesty of the minor victim and exploited her situation, while the accused in the second petition extorted money and jewellery from her by blackmailing her with the help of the objectionable videos which were recorded.
Further, it was submitted that the prosecutrix gave minute details of the specific roles played by the petitioners and that the DNA report was found negative because there was a huge gap between the occurrence of the offence and the date on which the sample was taken, hence it was inconsequential. Lastly, it was contended that out of 20 witnesses only the victim was examined and thus, it was argued that bail should not be given to the petitioners to avoid any detrimental impact on them.
At the outset, the Court observed that the prosecutrix/ victim was a minor and that along with the offences under Sections 354, 354-A, 384, 120-B and 506 IPC, Section 8 of the POCSO Act was also attracted in this case. In this backdrop, the Court stated that there are statutory provisions regarding the presumption as to certain offences and for the culpable mental state in the Act itself.
After perusing the FIR and the deposition of the victim before the trial Court, the Court opined that the presumption for the prima facie complicity of the petitioners, in this case, was attracted. As evident from the status report filed, out of the total six accused, one co-accused was yet to be arrested. The Court also opined that the prosecutrix duly supported the case of the prosecution against both the petitioners and that out of the 20 witnesses only one was examined so far. In the overall facts and circumstances, the Court concluded that the allegations against the petitioners were serious in nature.
On the aspect of the case being filed after the span of three years, the Court opined that the same was a question to be tackled by the Trial Court.
Thus, the Court asserted, “In view of the attending circumstances, granting the benefit of bail to the petitioners would prejudice the ongoing trial. The veracity of the allegations would be ascertained by the Trial Court, on the basis of the scrutiny of the evidences led by both the sides.”
Thus, the petition was dismissed.