Mumbai News

‘14-year-old was mature enough’, notes Bombay HC while granting bail to POCSO accused – Hindustan Times

The concept of consent is irrelevant under the Protection of Children from Sexual Offences (POCSO) Act, 2012, but a high court (HC) is empowered to pass orders to ensure justice, the Bombay HC said last Monday (July 13) while granting bail to a Mumbaikar, who was arrested for raping a minor.

Justice Sandeep Shinde granted bail to the rape accused, Dnyaneshwar Navghare, primarily on the ground that the 14-year-old survivor was mature enough and the sexual act was consensual.

“Looking into the case of the prosecution, prima facie, I am of the view that the victim possessed the mental capacity to actively understand the nature, circumstances, and consequences of the (sexual) act to which she had consented,” said Justice Shinde.

Navghare was arrested on July 10, 2019, on the basis of a statement given by the minor rape survivor to the police.

She had alleged that she was sexually assaulted by Navghare, a married man, and three other persons on separate occasions.

The minor rape survivor’s stepmother had lodged a missing complaint on June 14, 2019, after she had upped and left her house in a fit of rage. She was purportedly fed up with the harassment meted out by her stepmother and decided to leave her home.

She wandered aimlessly in the city after she left her home and travelled by a Mumbai suburban train.

Later, she also went to Chennai.

Upon her return to Mumbai, she was allegedly raped by four persons, including Navghare, separately.

Justice Shinde noted that the minor rape survivor had left her house voluntarily and accompanied more than one person at different places. She went to Chennai, met a stranger, and again returned to Mumbai with him and his friend.

Her statement revealed that after returning to Mumbai she had met a person called Hussain, with whom she had a consensual sexual relationship.

Soon, some passerby handed her to the Mulund police station authorities, but she introduced a stranger as her family member and went away with him.

The minor rape survivor was born in a Muslim family, but had got both her Islamic name and religion changed, as a gazette notification revealed.

These revelations prompted the HC to come to the conclusion that the minor rape survivor was capable of understanding the nature and consequences of the sexual acts that she had given her consent to.

The HC has ordered Navghare to be released upon furnishing a personal surety bond of Rs. 30,000.