Delhi High Court

Delhi High Court: An application was filed under Section 439 read with Section 482 of Criminal Procedure Code (CrPC) seeking a grant of regular bail in a case registered at Police Station Sarita Vihar, Delhi for the offences punishable under Sections 376 and 363 of Penal Code, 1860 (‘IPC’) and Section 6 of protection of children from of sexual offences Act (‘POCSO’). Swarana Kanta Sharma, J., held that due to the seriousness of the allegations, including sexual assault against a minor and human trafficking, and the ongoing trauma experienced by the victim, it was inappropriate to grant bail to the accused.

The allegations against the accused are that he brought the complainant, who was only 12 years and 8 months old at the time, from her village in Jharkhand to Delhi, where he forcefully established physical relations with her. He then allegedly got her employed in a house in Delhi and subsequently took her to his room in Jasola, Sarita Vihar, where he again forcefully established physical relations with her on 24-10-2019. The incident came to light when a resident of the complainant’s village found her crying outside the accused’s room and reported it to the police on 25-10-2019.

Counsel for the applicant argued that the accused had been falsely implicated and that there is no evidence to support the allegations against him. They contended that the complainant’s evidence has not been recorded, and she has not accused the present applicant of any wrongdoing. Additionally, they argued that the medical examination of the complainant did not reveal any external injuries, and there is no evidence linking the accused to the alleged offense. Therefore, they requested that the accused be granted bail.

Counsel for State, Assistant Public Prosecutor (APP) argued that the allegations against the accused are serious, and the complainant has supported the prosecution’s case in her statement under Section 164 of the Criminal Procedure Code. It was also noted that the complainant has not turned hostile and pointed out that the trial court previously denied bail to the accused. The APP further argued that no progress was made in the trial court regarding the complainant’s statement since the charge was framed in 2022. Hence, he advocated for the dismissal of the present bail application.

The Court, in its order dated 03-08-2022, noted that releasing the accused on bail could potentially exacerbate the distress of the victim, who was already experiencing emotional distress, sadness, and anxiety. Moreover, there was concern that the accused could pose a threat to the victim if released on bail.

The Court also reviewed the statement recorded under Section 164 of the Criminal Procedure Code, wherein the victim alleged that the accused forcibly brought her to Delhi under false pretenses, employed her without payment, and sexually abused her. She further claimed that despite her insistence on being paid and allowed to return home, the accused refused and continued to exploit her. Additionally, the victim reported a previous incident of sexual assault by the accused. In response, the counsel for the accused argued that the accused had been falsely implicated and disputed the accuracy of the victim’s statement recorded under Section 161 of the Criminal Procedure Code.

However, the Court noted that the statement of another individual, under whom the victim was employed, corroborated the victim’s claim of being brought to Delhi by the accused and employed by him. Additionally, the victim’s school records confirmed her age at the time of the incident and her attendance at school in Ranchi. Further substantiating the victim’s allegations, the medical examination report indicated evidence of previous sexual assault, with findings of a torn hymen. The victim provided a history of sexual assault allegedly committed by the accused. Considering the gravity of the allegations, the corroborating evidence, and the victim’s vulnerable state, the court found it inappropriate to grant bail to the accused. Granting bail in such circumstances could send the wrong message to society and potentially endanger the victim further.

The Court remarked that “The present case not only involves the disturbing dimension of sexual assault perpetrated against a minor, a mere 12 years old, but also highlights the grim reality of human trafficking, exploiting individuals for exploitative labour practices. This Court notes that the victim is still grappling with the trauma of the alleged incident, and awaits counselling before her statement can be recorded. In adjudicating bail matters, courts must strike a delicate balance, not only considering the accused’s right to bail but also upholding society’s right to protection from such heinous crimes and ensuring justice for the victim. In this instance, denial of bail is essential, especially considering the vulnerability of the victim who has been subjected to such egregious acts.”

The Court further remarked that “Granting bail in such cases will send a wrong single to the society at large. The Courts have a duty to ensure that accused persons involved in serious offences as the present case, which result in life altering changes in a young girl’s life are not released on bail on ground of the victim being not in a position to depose against them, when it is writ large on the face of the record that she has become tongue-less qua the deposition against the accused only due to the impact of trauma undergone by her due to sexual assault and human trafficking thousands of miles away from her home and her family at the tender age of 12 years.”

Therefore, the Court dismissed the bail application, emphasizing the seriousness of the case and the need to protect the victim from further harm.

[Anup Bhengra v. State NCT of Delhi, 2024 SCC OnLine Del 1417, decided on 28-02-2024]

Advocates who appeared in this case :

Mr. M. Naushad with Mr. Shamsher Singh, Advocates for petitioner

Mr. Manoj Pant, APP for the State

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