The Himachal Pradesh High Court at Shimla while dealing with the petitions seeking bail filed by the rape accused charged under Section 376-DA and 506 of the Indian Penal Code and Section 6 of the Protection of Children from Sexual Offences Act, 2012 (POCSO) denied the bail and held that mere delay in lodging FIR does not entitle the accused to get bail.

A Bench of Justice Satyen Vaidya while dismissing the petitions stated –

"This gains more importance when one looks at the age difference between the victim and the petitioners. No plausible reason has been made out atleast prima-facie on behalf of the petitioners to cast any doubt on the prosecution story at this stage. Mere delay in lodging the FIR will not help the petitioners in their prayer for bail. Keeping in view the age of the victim and she having been allegedly put into fear of life, the delay in lodging the FIR can be said to be explainable during trial."

Advocate Rahul Singh Verma appeared on behalf of the accused i.e., the petitioners.

Deputy Advocate General Narendra Thakur represented the State i.e., the respondent.

Brief Facts –

Accused no. 1 aged 29 years forcibly committed sexual intercourse with the victim more than once and after a few hours, the accused no. 2 aged 36 years committed the same offence against the victim. Both the accused i.e., the petitioners were employees of the Chaudhary Hospital and the victim was working as a domestic helper in the house of the hospital's owner. The petitioners were alleged to have committed the crime by threatening the victim. The victim disclosed everything to the hospital owner's daughter when she asked after seeing her vomiting. Thereafter, the matter was reported seven days after the commission of the crime by the parents of the victim and then petitioners were arrested.

The petitioners prayed before the Court that they are innocent and there has been a delay in lodging the FIR which is suggestive of the falsity of the allegation.

The High Court referred to the case of Prasanta Kumar Sarkar vs. Ashis Chatterjee and another (2010) 14 SCC 496 in which the Supreme Court had culled out the factors to be borne in mind while considering an application for bail.

The Court noted that "… on the date of commission of alleged offence, the victim was less than 14 years of age. A child at such stage cannot be presumed to be of sufficient maturity. The POCSO Act has been enacted with clear objective to protect the children from crimes against them. For such reason only the offences under the POCSO Act have been termed to be serious, heinous and attract severe punishment."

The Court further in the above context held –

"Keeping in view the facts of the case, it cannot be said that there are no prima-facie or reasonable grounds to believe that the accused have not committed the offence. As noticed above, the accusation against the petitioners are of serious and grave nature. The victim is of young age and in case of release of petitioners on bail, the possibility of petitioners trying to influence the victim and other material witnesses cannot be ruled out."

Accordingly, the Court rejected and disposed of the petitions.

Cause Title – Dinesh Kumar Sharma @ Bittu v. State of Himachal Pradesh and Amir Khan v. State of Himachal Pradesh

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