While hearing the bail plea of a man accused of raping a 14-year old, the Delhi High Court has observed that merely because the sexual abuse has resulted in marriage between the victim and the accused, it does not mitigate the act of the accused in any manner.

"Merely because such sexual abuse results in tying of knot between the victim and the accused in violation of provisions of law or results in birth of a child, it does not mitigate the act of the petitioner in any manner, since the consent of a minor is immaterial and inconsequential in law.", the single Bench of Justice Anoop Kumar Mendiratta observed.

As per the case of the prosecution FIR was registered on the statement of the victim's mother, wherein she alleged that some unknown person had kidnapped her minor daughter.

On the basis of mobile technical surveillance and CDR location, victim was recovered along with her 8 month old female child from the house of petitioner/accused.

It was the case of the prosecution that the accused had lured the victim and allegedly married her in a temple.

Lokesh Kumar Mishra counsel for petitioner submitted that the relationship between the accused and the girl was voluntary.

On the other hand, Laksh Khanna APP for the State contended that the victim was merely 14 years of age, at the time she was lured and kidnapped by the petitioner. It was also urged that the petitioner aged about 27 years was more than 10 years older than the age of the victim and the consent by the minor victim cannot be recognized in law.

The Court placed reliance on the case-Satish Kumar Jayanti Lal Dabgar vs. State of Gujarat and held thus- "…the consent, if any, given by the victim girl for the alleged physical relationship being a minor cannot be treated as a consent in the eyes of law. It may also be observed that sexual exploitation and sexual abuse of children are heinous crimes which need to be effectively addressed."

"Merely because the petitioner has claimed that marriage had been performed with the victim in a temple, the same cannot sanctify the offence as the victim was a minor and under 15 years of age at the time of the incident.", the Court held further.

The Court stated that even the minor girl's infatuation with the alleged kidnapper cannot be permitted as a valid defence as it would amount to undermining the essence of legislative intent under Section 361 of Indian Penal Code.

The Court also noted that the petitioner/accused misled the entire prosecuting agency including the parents of victim having committed the offence.

Therefore the Court considering the conduct of the accused and victim's age at the time of incident, dismissed the bail plea.

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