#collegesafety | 23-year-old Mumbai man gets 10 years rigorous imprisonment for eloping with minor niece

The special Protection of Children from Sexual Offences (Pocso) Act court on Monday sentenced a 23-year-old man to 10 years rigorous imprisonment (RI) for eloping and committing aggravated sexual assault on his 16-year-old niece.

The girl in her testimony had admitted that the two were in a relationship. While convicting the accused the court pointed out that despite being her maternal uncle, instead of counselling the victim and talking with her parents, he eloped with her.

The court hence convicted him for kidnapping and rape, observing, “He had sexual relations with the victim on more than one occasion and therefore he has committed aggravated sexual assault.” The court has also imposed a fine of 25,000 on the accused, of which 15,000 is to be paid to the victim’s family as compensation.

As per the prosecution’s case, the mother of the girl alleged that on September 23, 2016, the 16-year-old was upset after being scolded for waking up late. The girl later went to college but did not return home. Her phone too was switched off.

The family filed a missing person complaint on September 24, 2016. During the probe, the mother disclosed that the accused and the girl were in a relationship and the accused is a maternal uncle of the girl. After this, police started looking for the two and they were found them staying together in Pune. The victim in her statement claimed that they had eloped in Pune and were staying as a married couple.

The victim claimed that after leaving from home, she went to Bandra Bandstand and called the accused. She told him that she was under a lot of pressure because of her studies and did not want to continue her education. She further deposed that she asked the accused to take her to Pune where they could settle down. She claimed that they stayed in Pune for almost a month after getting married.

“The accused is the maternal uncle of the victim. He has taken undue advantage of the disturbed mental state of the victim. He kidnapped her and took her to Pune where he committed penetrative sexual assault upon her, knowing fully well that she was minor and that he was her maternal uncle. The marriage between the accused and the victim is prohibited as per the Hindu Marriage Act,” the prosecution argued in court.

The defence argued that the victim has categorically deposed that she left the house on her own and that she was in a romantic relationship with the accused. “There were consensual sexual relations between them. The victim has further deposed that she had completed 18 years of age at the time of marriage to the accused,” said the accused’s lawyer.

The prosecution, however, proved that the girl was 16-years, 11-months-old at the time of the marriage.

The court accepted the prosecution’s case and found the accused guilty of kidnapping and sexually assaulting the minor girl.

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