A court here in Maharashtra has acquitted a 36-year-old man of charges of kidnapping a minor girl and sexually assaulting her on the pretext of marriage.
District Judge S B Bahalkar in her order last week observed that there was a delay in lodging the FIR which, she said, was extremely vital evidence, and there was no medical evidence to show that the victim was sexually assaulted.
The prosecution told the court that on March 7, 2013, that the victim, then aged 16 years and residing in Wada taluka of Thane, went to take her Class 10 exam but did not return home.
Her family members later got to know that she had gone with the accused, Chetan Kantilal Patil.
They approached the police after three days when both the victim and the accused were found.
The accused was subsequently arrested and booked under Indian Penal Code sections 363 (kidnapping) and 366-A (procuration of minor girl) and provisions of the Protection of Children from Sexual Offences (POCSO) Act.
The judge noted that the victim’s father lodged an FIR only when she came back after being missing for three says.
“There is an unexplained delay in lodging the FIR which, in a criminal case, is an extremely vital and valuable piece of evidence for the purpose of corroborating oral evidence adduced at the trial,” she noted.
“Delaying lodging the FIR quite often results in embellishment, which is an afterthought. When an occurrence is not reported for more than 20 hours even as the police station is only two miles away, it is unsafe to base a conviction upon the evidence,” the judge said.
She said the victim states that the accused took her with him to various places and had sexual relations with her.
However, her statement was not recorded by the investigating officer or a woman police officer. Only on the request of the prosecution, her evidence was recorded before the court, the judge observed.
Also, no medical evidence was produced to show the victim was sexually assaulted by the accused, she added.
“On this basis, I can safely conclude that the prosecution has failed to prove the guilt of the accused,” the judge said.