Mumbai: In an interesting ruling, the Nagpur bench of the Bombay High Court acquitted a man from charges of committing rape on his minor sister-in-law by considering the fact that the victim was aware that the accused was about to marry her cousin. The HC also took into account the “readiness” of the man to look after the victim and her newborn child, along with his own wife.
A division bench of Justice Ravi Deshpande and Justice Murlidhar Giratkar said, “The victim was 16-years-old at the time of the incident. The sexual intercourse took place with her consent. Therefore, as per the clause six to section 375 Indian Penal Code (IPC) which defines rape, the act of the accused herein cannot be termed as rape.”
Interestingly, the clause six to section 375 IPC terms ‘an act of penetration or sexual intercourse as rape when the girl is minor and below the age of 16.’ The clause terms ‘such an act as rape irrespective of the fact as to whether the girl consented or not.’
However, the judges setting aside the trial court’s orders, said, “In her evidence the girl has stated, the accused forcibly had sexual intercourse with her. This evidence however is unreliable since she has in her report stated the accused was her brother-in-law, who had taken her to his house and she lived there for nearly two months. During this period she had ‘close relations’ with him. This itself shows she had love and affection for him.”
The conclusions were drawn while hearing an appeal filed by Pradeep Bawane, a resident of Chandrapur. He was also convicted for cheating the victim as he had promised to marry the girl after she conceived. However, on the very day when the marriage was to be solemnised, he absconded and married another girl.
In his plea, Bawane sought relief assuring the court that he would maintain the victim and the child, along with his newly wed wife. The judges considered the assurance and directed Bawane to deposit Rs 50, 000 in name of his daughter born to the victim. The Nagpur bench of the Bombay HC acquitted a man from charges of raping his minor sister-in-law by considering the fact that the victim was aware that the accused was about to marry her cousin. The HC also took into account the man’s ‘readiness’ to look after the victim and her newborn child, along with his wife.