New Delhi: A man, awarded a seven-year jail term by a trial court for raping a minor, has been acquitted in the 15-year-old case by the Delhi High Court which held that physical relations between them were consensual.
Setting aside the trial court`s decision of convicting and sentencing Bihar resident Rameshwar Giri on charges of kidnap and rape in 2001, a bench headed by Justice Indermeet Kaur said the girl was conscious of her act and it cannot be termed as an act of force.
The court was deciding the appeal filed by Giri against his conviction and sentence. He had claimed that he was falsely implicated in the case due to previous enmity.
"The offence of rape as defined under Section 375 of the IPC (unamended) is not made out as for the purposes of rape to qualify as a minor, the victim should be less than 16 years. As noted supra, the victim was aged 15 years and 9 months on the date of the offence, just about three months short of the age of 16," the bench said.
"Being in the age of discretion, this court is of the view that she was conscious of her act in accompanying the accused and it cannot be said to be an act of force. The accused is entitled to an acquittal for the offence under Section 376 (punishment for rape) of the IPC. He is accordingly acquitted of the said charge.
"More so, this is not a case where there was any persuasion on the part of the accused which can amount to taking or enticing the victim as is the language contained in Section 361 of the IPC," the court said.
The court also acquitted Giri of the charge of kidnapping the girl, saying there was no active persuasion on the part of the accused as it was an invitation extended by him to the girl which was accepted by her.
According to the prosecution, the girl knew Giri prior to the incident as he used to visit her house. On February 2, 1999 when she was standing near a public water tank near her house here, Giri asked her to accompany him for sightseeing and she agreed.
Giri, however, took her to Bihar in a train where he had physical relations with her twice, it said.
When the girl did not return, her parents lodged a missing complaint. She was later on recovered by the police.