The Madras High Court is “eagerly waiting” for the legislature to reduce the age of consent under the POCSO Act.
The case of the prosecution is that the victim, who was aged about 17 years, was working as an Assistant Tailor at Anitha stitching centre.
The accused/appellant was also working in the same stitching centre. On 05.05.2014, the victim went to the stitching centre to attend work at about 8.30 a.m the victim stated to her parents that she was not doing well and that she was going to her house.
At the same time, the accused also went out from the stitching centre. Thereafter, the accused kidnapped the minor victim girl from the lawful guardians from Tiruppur to Amurdhahalli, Bangalore in train and forcefully married her and both were residing in a rented house at Bangalore near the house of Nagamani. Both the accused and the victim resided at Bangalore for about 76 days i.e. from 05.05.2014 to 19.07.2014 and at that time the accused forcefully had sexual intercourse with the minor victim several times.
Counsel for the appellant submitted that the prosecution has not proved the age of the victim in the manner known to law. Actually, at the time of occurrence, the victim has completed 18 years, but, the documents which were created by the prosecution, show that the victim has not completed 18 years.
He further submitted that from the evidence of the victim it would show that the victim voluntarily went along with the appellant. During trial the victim girl has deposed that the appellant married her and they stayed in Bangalore for more than 2 ½ months as husband and wife.
Additional Public Prosecutor appearing for the respondent submitted that the date of birth of the victim is 10.05.1997, whereas the occurrence took place on 05.05.2014 and the case was registered on 10.05.2014. Therefore, at the time of occurrence, the victim girl was aged about 17 years and she is a child coming under the definition of Section 2(1)(d) of the POCSO Act.
The single judge bench of Justice P. Velmurugan noted that the best witness who spoke about kidnapping is a victim/P.W.2 and she has clearly stated that the appellant forcefully took her to Bangalore and married her and had a physical relationship with her.
“Though the counsel for the appellant vehemently contended that the act committed by the appellant does not fall under Section 366 IPC, the victim voluntarily went along with the appellant to Bangalore and with her consent, he married her. However, at the time of occurrence, the victim was a child and so, consent is immaterial and if the Court finds that the custody of the victim is removed from her natural guardians, that too for the purpose of marriage, the act committed by the accused falls under Section 366 IPC” the court said.
The bench found that the victim was a minor and the appellant took the custody of the minor without the knowledge or consent of her natural guardians and had committed penetrative sexual assault on her and hence, the offence committed by the appellant falls under Section 5(l) which is punishable under Section 6 of the POCSO Act.
The court dismissed the appeal.
Case title: Ravi @ Virumandi v/s State
Citation: CRL.A.No.627 of 2021