25-year-old man from Maharashtra was booked on charges of kidnapping and sexually assaulting his then 17-year-old friend. However, after five long years, a special Protection of Children from Sexual Offences (POCSO) Act court observed that the girl, charmed by the prospect of travelling and visiting Sindhudurg, voluntarily left for the trip with the accused.
Acquitting the man from the case, the court said that it was not an offence for friends to hold hands. The court noted:
Holding of hands does not establish ingredients of sexual assault.
The court also mentioned that the girl being a person with open outlook and living in the era of modernisation was also aware of travelling and making friends. The judgement read:
College students also go to places, out of interest in travelling and enjoying. Sindhudurg is nature’s spot, known to all. The victim on her own went with the accused due to curiosity, is seen.
The court categorically stated that the girl took the decision of joining the man for travelling on her own accord, and she went with him since she was not uncomfortable in his company. Adding further the judge said,
She, therefore, never raised an alarm or protested, or complained to relatives of accused, when she spoke to them.
On July 16, 2015, the girl left home for college as usual. Her parents were waiting for her, but she did not return home in the evening. The girl and the accused had asked a common friend of theirs to inform the girl’s parents that she had gone to Kankavali.
The father of the girl became so annoyed that he went forward and lodged a case of kidnapping. He, in his complaint stated, that the girl was a minor and was taken outdoor without permission.
A day later, cops alongwith the father reached the village where the girl and the accused boy were located. They got back the daughter home, when she told her parents that the boy had proposed her marriage and “touched her hand”. Thereafter he had taken her to the village on his bike.
The father then went ahead and got the boy charged under POCSO.
The court as on date noted that no case of kidnapping or sexual assault was made out. Concluding the matter after five years, the court noted,
They being friends, had talk of future prospects between them… Not a case where accused and victim went away to marry. They did not indulge in any sexual activity.