On Wednesday, a special Protection of Children from Sexual Offences (POCSO) Act court in Mumbai acquitted a 24-year-old man, after he spent almost a year in jail on charges of kidnapping and raping a 17-year-old girl he had met on a Mumbai-Pune bus stop.
When the alleged incident took place, the girl was a minor. However, the court now observed that she had turned into an adult and thus fully aware of the testimony she had presented in the court.
On January 14, the woman’s brother approached the police stating that his sister had left home, however had not yet returned. An FIR on charges of kidnapping were also registered. After a few days, the woman returned to her residence, and allegedly shared an incident which happened to her.
The woman then informed local police, that she had met a man on the bus from Mumbai to Pune. When the vehicle broke down, she started talking to him and also had tea together. According to the woman, the two later also visited the residence of the alleged accused.
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Both the man and (then) minor girl also went for shopping together where the man paid for her new clothes. Later, they met his friends, went out for a movie, had food at restaurants and also went for bike rides.
In the FIR, the woman stated that the two thereafter went to Nashik where they had sexual relations. She later returned to Mumbai by bus.
The minor girl even requested the officials then that she did not want to stay at home and thus was sent to a shelter home.
The man, on the other end, was booked under POCSO Act as the girl was minor on the date of alleged physical relations. He approached court for bail, however, the same was rejected by court.
Current Testimony Of Victim
The victim now states that she had never met with the accused. She also told court that she left the city without informing her parents as she had a fight with her sister. Based on this statement, the court agreed to acquit the accused.
Clarifying her earlier statement against the man to the magistrate court, the woman said that the report was in Marathi language and she only understood English and Urdu.
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After noting her present statements, the court said,
The prosecutrix is not ready to agree that any bad incident occurred with her. She has reiterated that she went alone to Pune, was alone in the room, eating and watching TV. She returned alone to Mumbai. She has totally refused connection of the accused with her. She does not know any such person.
Taking a note of the inconsistent statements given by the woman to the police and the magistrate, the court noted,
It is seen that she is in the age of maturity and understanding. The evidence of police sub-inspector becomes formal in nature. In these circumstances, the accused is entitled for acquittal.
While the man is free now, who compensates for his one-year jail term, his loss of reputation in society and lost career opportunities due to the stigma of being labelled a rapist?