The special court for Protection of Children against Sexual Offences (POCSO) in Anand sentenced a 29-year-old man to 10 years in rigorous imprisonment for abducting a minor with the promise of marriage and raping her on multiple occasions. The court held that the victim’s deposition that she was in a relationship with the accused and the defence’s argument that she was only four months shy of being an adult when the case was registered at Anand Town Police Station could not be considered as there was no dispute regarding her birth certificate that indicated that she was under 18 years of age when the crime had occurred.
In a 91-page order delivered on December 2, the special POCSO court delved in detail into the question of law as the defence argued that the victim was four months shy of being an adult when she decided to ‘elope’ with the accused in August 2017. According to the FIR filed at the Anand Town police station on August 19, 2017, the victim had left for her college on August 14, 2017, but did not return home as the accused — then aged 25 — had lured her to ‘elope’ with him for marriage. Together, the accused and victim stayed over at homes of acquaintances and friends across Anand, where the accused raped the minor victim under the promise of marriage.
The defence argued that the families of the accused and the victim were known to each other and also aware of their relationship. The defence also argued that the victim had stated in her deposition that she was in a relationship with the accused and attained the age of majority before deciding to go away with the accused. However, the court, in a detailed order rejected the defence argument, stating that the law on the age of the victim was “extremely clear”.
“There is no dispute regarding the birth certificate of the victim… The defence has not been able to deny the birth certificate or prove that the certificate is forged or wrong… The victim was aged 17 years and eight months at the time of the incident,” the court said. The court upheld that the accused was fit to be tried under the POCSO Act and held him guilty of abducting the minor.