The Delhi High Court has upheld an order discharging a man of charges of kidnapping and sexually assaulting a girl, relying on the age mentioned on her Aadhaar card which showed her to be a major at the time of the alleged crime.
The high court said the July 2016 order of the trial court rightly observed that the date of birth of the girl in the school record was not based on birth certificate issued by the municipal corporation or any other statutory authority.
” in the absence of these documents, the trial court has rightly relied upon the Aadhaar card to ascertain the age of prosecutrix as per mandate of section 94 of the Juvenile Justice (Care and Protection of Children) Act, 2015, which reflects the date of birth of the prosecutrix as January 1, 1994. It is also pertinent to mention that the prosecutrix was not subjected to the ossification test to determine her approximate age,” Justice Sudhir Kumar Jain said.
The high court said the trial court’s order discharging the man under the provisions of Protection Of Children from Sexual Offences (POCSO) Act and IPC does not call for any interference.
The high court’s order, passed on September 4, was made available on Monday.
In the case, the girl’s mother stated in a police complaint that her 16-year-old daughter had gone missing, but the Aadhaar card showed the girl’s age to be 21 years at the time of the alleged incident, which took place in September 2015.
The girl in her statement before a magistrate testified that she had gone with the man on her own will and after getting married to him, they established physical relations.
She said her year of birth was 1994 and she was about 21 years then.
The state challenged the trial court’s acquittal order with the prosecutor arguing that the documents collected during the investigation from the concerned school showed that the girl was a minor at the time of the offence.
The counsel for the man argued that the trial court had rightly relied upon the Aadhaar card as per which, the girl’s date of birth was January 1, 1994.
The counsel also argued that the age of the girl as appeared in the school record was not based on any birth certificate issued by the MCD or any other statutory authority.
The high court, in its order, said that the investigating officer did not collect any birth certificate from the girl’s school or birth certificate issued by MCD or any other statutory authority or panchayat.
It referred to the decision of a coordinate bench of the high court which relied on the Aadhaar card to determine the age of the girl.