The Delhi High Court has suspended the sentence of a man, who was convicted for raping a minor, noting that the girl had voluntarily gone with him by misrepresenting herself to be a major.
Justice Jasmeet Singh noted in an order on Friday that the girl was 17 years and four months old when she eloped with the man and, thereafter, they had a child who is in the care and custody of the prosecutrix.
The high court, which was hearing an appeal filed by the man challenging his conviction and 12 years' imprisonment, said to uphold the trial court judgment or to set it aside would require detailed hearing and appreciation of facts which shall be taken up when the appeal is finally heard.
However, the sentence of the appellant is suspended during the pendency of the appeal on certain terms and conditions including that the man will not interfere in the life of the girl and the minor child until and unless she so desires and permits.
The girl, in her statement recorded before a magistrate as well as in her evidence, has stated that she ran away with the man out of "her own free will" and that "she is in love with him" and prayed that he be released on bail.
In her cross-examination, the girl further stated that she was the one who misrepresented her age to the man to state that she was a major at the time of running away with him.
"These are facts which persuade me to suspend the sentence of the appellant even though he has not undergone 50 per cent of the awarded sentence. The evidence, the section 164 CrPC statement and the cross examination of the prosecutrix, seem to suggest that it was the prosecutrix who had gone with the appellant by misrepresenting her age and showing herself to be a major," the judge said.
The high court was dealing with the man's application seeking suspension of his sentence awarded to him in November 2020 by a trial court here.
As per the nominal roll of March 13, 2023, the man has undergone 3 years 1 month 7 days' imprisonment. He has a remission of 6 months 27 days and an unexpired portion of 8 years 3 months 26 days, the high court noted.
It said the man be released from jail on furnishing a personal bond and surety bond of Rs 10,000 each and he shall provide his mobile phone number to the investigating officer (IO), which shall be kept in working condition at all times.
The man shall furnish his permanent address to the IO and shall appear before the court as and when the appeal is taken up for hearing and shall not leave the country, it said.
"The appellant shall not be in the vicinity of the prosecutrix or any of her family members. He shall try and contribute some amount towards the upbringing of the minor child. He shall not indulge in any act or omission that is unlawful or that would prejudice the proceedings in pending cases, if any," the high court.
The court also directed the Delhi State Legal Service Authority to pay a compensation of Rs 4 lakh to the girl immediately and not later than two weeks, if not paid already.
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