Delhi High Court: A Single Judge Bench of Swarana Kanta Sharma, J.* opined that the teenage psychology and adolescent love could not be controlled by the Courts and therefore, the judges had to be careful while rejecting or granting bail in such cases depending on the facts and circumstances of each case. The Court further opined that confinement in jail would cause distress and impact the psychological health of the accused, therefore, the Court granted two months bail to the accused.
In the present case, a complaint was received by the police that the prosecutrix ‘X' was missing from home and therefore, investigation was conducted and during investigation, it was found that she used to speak to the applicant-accused whose mobile phone number was provided to the police. The Call Detail Record (CDR) of the said mobile phone number was obtained and analysis of the same revealed that the location of the mobile phone was in Delhi and in Chennai. Based on CDR location analysis, the prosecutrix was recovered from Chennai who informed the police that she had come with the accused out of her own free will. The FIR was thereafter registered under Section 376 of the Penal Code, 1860 and Section 6 of Protection of Children from Sexual Offences Act, 2012. During investigation, the prosecutrix was found seven weeks pregnant. The medical termination of pregnancy was conducted as per law, and the DNA report confirmed that the accused was the child’s biological father. A charge sheet was filed, and the accused had been in judicial custody since then.
Analysis, Law, Decision
The Court noted that as perprosecutrix she was 18 years of age at the time of the incident, although her school record did not support the said claim. The Court further noted that the present case was a story, where the prosecutrix ‘X' and the accused had developed a liking for each other and the same was clear from the statement of the prosecutrix. The prosecutrix wanted to marry the accused and so, being in love, both left Delhi so they could live in peace away from their families. The prosecutrix ‘X' gave the accused another idea that if they were blessed with a child, their parents would accept their marriage.
The Court opined that “though, the entire story reads like story of a romantic novel or a film about teenage love, in real life, it had two main characters in their teens who loved each other, supported each other and somehow wanted their relationship in marriage to be validated, and for that, the only idea that came to the mind of the prosecutrix was giving birth to a child from their union”. The Court further opined that the criminal intent of any kind from the record was completely missing as neither of the characters of the story, that is, prosecutrix and accused had switched off their mobile phones so that their location might not be available to the police or to their family. Moreover, the police located them based on their mobile phone location only and found that the accused was working in a salon and earning for himself and the prosecutrix, and the prosecutrix was seven weeks pregnant, which was also at her own insistence.
The Court also opined that though consent of a minor might be of no value in the eyes of law, in the peculiar circumstances and facts of the present case, it would not be prudent for a Court to label the applicant herein as an accused, more so, since there was no incriminating evidence against him on record. The Court further opined that the prosecutrix and the accused herein might have made a mistake in the affairs of the heart, however, the teenage psychology and adolescent love could not be controlled by the Courts and therefore the judges had to be careful while rejecting or granting bail in such cases depending on the facts and circumstances of each case. The Court observed that the attitude towards early love relationships, especially adolescent love, had to be scrutinized in the backdrop of their real-life situations to understand their actions in each situation because the teenagers who try to imitate romantic culture of films and novels, remain unaware about the laws and the age of consent. The Court relied on Rajeev Kumar v. State, Bail Appln, 1379 of 2022, wherein a similar view was taken by this Bench.
The Court noted that the prosecutrix who was allegedly of 16 years on the day of incident was working somewhere and the accused only about 19 years, was also working in a salon which revealed that both of them did not have the advantage of pursuing higher studies and due to their financial background and financial status, they had started working at an early age. The social factors and forces that operated in any given case and the circumstances of cases of adolescent love reveal in a sizable percentage of cases that they might want to marry and settle down with each other.
The Court opined that “these were the cases that Courts might find difficult to deal with in which it might not be advisable that the accused should be kept in judicial custody as they were not the ‘accused' in the sense of term as used in criminal jurisprudence, so as to keep them with hardened criminals and doing so would be travesty of justice and playing with their future”. The Court further opined that confinement in jail would cause distress and would impact the psychological health of the accused. The Court noted that the marriage of the accused and the prosecutrix was tentatively fixed in May 2023 and the prosecutrix in any case, even if she was 16 years of age at the time of alleged incident, she had turned more than 18 years now. Therefore, the Court granted bail to accused for two months.
[Mahesh Kumar v. State (NCT of Delhi), 2023 SCC OnLine Del 2634, decided on 8-5-2023]
Advocates who appeared in this case :
For the Petitioner: I.A. Siddiqui, Advocate along with petitioner in person
For the Respondent: Satish Kumar, APP
*Judgment authored by: Justice Swarana Kanta Sharma