The Gujarat High Court recently in the case of Ravi Hareshbhai Patni v. State of Gujarat granted bail to a convict under POCSO Act on the ground that there was an element of a love affair and the prosecutrix had virtually resided with the convict as husband and wife, till they were apprehended.
The applicant-convict approached the High Court in an appeal against the judgment and order dated December 12, 2022, by which he was convicted by the POCSO Court, Gandhi Nagar for offences punishable under Section 363 (Punishment for kidnapping), Section 366 (Kidnapping, abducting or inducing woman to compel her marriage, etc.), Section 376 (Punishment for rape) of IPC and under Section 4 (Punishment for penetrative sexual assault) and Section 6 (Punishment for aggravated penetrative sexual assault) of the POCSO Act, 2012.
The counsel for the applicant submitted that the case was of a love affair between the applicant, who was aged approximately 21 years, whereas the prosecutrix was also aged 17 years, 2 months and 23 days as of the date of the offence and pleaded that the applicant should be granted permanent bail by suspending the sentence since the appeal is likely to consume some time.
The court observed that: “Perusal of the evidence of the prosecutrix indicates the element of a love affair at the relevant time and at that time, the applicant himself was aged 21 years approximately and the prosecutrix was aged 17 years. Evidence also indicates the manner and method, in which the applicant and the prosecutrix had met and had virtually resided as husband and wife, till they were apprehended.”
Thus, the bail application was allowed on certain conditions and the sentence of the applicant was imposed by the trial court till the final disposal of the criminal appeal.