A special court in Maharashtra’s Thane district has acquitted a 27-year-old man who was arrested for allegedly raping a 17-year-old girl, saying the two are now married and that the prosecution had failed to prove the charges.
The order by Special (POCSO) Judge VV Virkar was passed on March 6 and a copy was made available on Tuesday.
As per the prosecution, the man from Nanded often visited his relative’s home in Thane where the girl, then a Class XI student, lived and the two became friends. In December 2017, they eloped to Nanded where the man raped her twice, claimed the prosecution.
On the girl’s return, her parents approached the police. A case was registered under the Protection of Children from Sexual Offences (POCSO) Act and the Indian Penal Code, leading to the man’s arrest.
The judge said the girl categorically stated that she had gone with the man on her own as her father was opposed to their relationship. In such a case no conclusion can be drawn that the man kidnapped her, said the judge.
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The court said it was not even proved that the girl was a minor at the time.
The judge also noted that the two are now married and living together. “It is thus clear that it was a case of a consensual relationship,” she said in the order.
Even if it is assumed that the girl was 17 years old then, the court said, she was still mature enough to understand the consequences of her act.
It cannot be said that “the accused running away with the prosecutrix or having sexual intercourse with her, if any, would amount to offences under sections of IPC and POCSO Act, said the judge, acquitting the man.