The Bombay High Court has observed that the Protection of Children from Sexual Offences (POCSO) Act, 2012 has been enacted to protect children from sexual offences and that its object is not to punish minors in romantic or consensual relationship.

“It needs to be noted that the POCSO Act has been enacted to protect children from offences of sexual assault, sexual harassment etc., and contains stringent penal provisions as to safe guard the interest and the well being of the children. The object is certainly not to punish minors in romantic or consensual relationship and brand them as criminals”, the bench of Justice Anuja Prabhudessai observed while granting bail to a man of 22 years of age facing trial under POCSO Act.

In this case, the FIR revealed that the victim had left the house and had not returned. The first informant suspected that some persons were involved in kidnapping her daughter. Hence, crime came to be registered for offences punishable under sections 363 and 367 of the Indian Penal Code.

Subsequently, the victim was traced. Her statement revealed that while she was sleeping in a rickshaw, the bail applicant called her to the terrace and had forcible sexual relationship with her.

Advocate Shamish Marwadi appeared for the applicant and APP S.V. Gavand appeared for the State.

The Court noted “It is true that the victim is a child within the meaning of section 2(d) of the POCSO Act. The Applicant was also a young boy of 22 years of age at the time of the incident. The statement of the first informant prima facie indicates that the relationship was consensual.”

The Court observed that the trial has not yet commenced and considering the large pendency, the trial is not likely to commence in immediate future. The Court noted that detaining the bail Applicant further will bring him in association with hardened criminals.

Thus the Court granted bail to the accused.

Cause Title- Imran Iqbal Shaikh v. The State of Maharashtra and Anr.

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