Court reduces jail term of man convicted of raping minor

New Delhi, June 18 (IANS) The Delhi High Court has reduced the jail term of a man who was convicted for kidnapping a minor girl for marriage and raping her, noting that she had gone willingly with him.

Justice G.P. Mittal reduced the five-year jail term of Sanjay to four years, observing that the girl, few months less than 16 years, had eloped and married him willingly and had established physical relations with him without any pressure.

"The legislature in its wisdom made a provision for awarding a sentence of less than seven years when there are special and adequate reasons for the same. I have before me the prosecutrix's (girl) testimony. It goes without saying that the prosecutrix merrily proceeded with the appellant most willingly."

The judge also observed the fact that the girl travelled with Sanjay in a bus and then in a train to Lucknow and was brought back by him to Delhi where they were apprehended at New Delhi Railway Station, but she did not raise alarm even once if she was kidnapped.

"....it is borne out from the record that it was a case of consensual intercourse with the prosecutrix. While awarding punishment, the court has to take into consideration the mitigating and aggravating circumstances. The prosecutrix was aged 15 years and 8 months and she was incapable of giving the consent for sexual intercourse," Justice Mittal said in a recent judgment.

Minimising the jail term by one year, the judge also observed: "I have seen numerous cases where the girls, sometimes less than 16 years of age, take a lead in eloping with a boy, enter into a marriage with the boy and have sexual intercourse with him... Considering the age of the prosecutrix and the facts narrated above, in my view, it is a fit case where sentence less than the minimum should be awarded."

The sessions court in August last year awarded five years' imprisonment to Sanjay on charges of kidnapping, abducting the girl to marry him and raping her. Sanjay moved the high court seeking reduction in his jail term.

Counsel, appearing for Sanjay, pleaded that the girl had eloped with Sanjay and did not raise an alarm when they travelled out of and back to the capital. Both had got married and the establishment of physical relations between them was consensual.

The prosecution, however, opposed the plea for taking a lenient view urging that the offence of sexual molestation is on the rise and a punishment less than the minimum prescribed should not be awarded.

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