Hindu News

Hindu News

Hindu News

Hindu News

Friday, January 31, 2014

HC Acquits Muslim Youth Accused of Raping Hindu Girl

A Muslim youth, accused of raping a teenaged Hindu girl he married nine years ago after eloping, has got reprieve from the Delhi High Court which upheld his acquittal, observing that religion was the "biggest hurdle" in their matrimonial alliance.

Hasim, a hairdresser in southeast Delhi, and the 14-year- old schoolgirl were in love with each other and had twice ran away from home to be together.

In 2005, the couple apprehending trouble from their respective families, left for Moradabad after their 'nikah' (marriage) in Delhi and applying for registration under the Special Marriage Act.

The duo were traced to Moradabad by the police and brought back to Delhi where a kidnapping and rape case was slapped on Hasim and the girl was married off elsewhere.

A Delhi trial court acquitted Hasim following which police appealed against the verdict in the high court, saying the girl was a minor.

Upholding the acquittal, the high court said, "This is an unfortunate case where perhaps different religion of the boy and the girl was the biggest hurdle in their way to marry each other.

"They wanted to marry crossing this hurdle, hence firstly nikah was performed on February 11, 2005 and thereafter notice for intended marriage under the Special Marriage Act was also given. However, destiny had something else in store for them."

In its 16-page judgment, a bench of justices Pratibha Rani and Reva Khetrapal held that opposition to runaway marriages by parents is mostly on account of caste, religion or disparities in social status.

"With a view to breaking the matrimonial alliance, they (girl's parents) continue pressing the charge of kidnapping and rape on the boy," it said.

The court observed that "runaway marriages not only cause mental agony to the family of the couple but also compel the couple to run for shelter to protect their lives and escape honour killing".

The court also took note of the increasing number of petitions by parents for production of their wards who leave their parental house in runaway marriages.

"While parents of such girls suffer due to social stigma attached with such marriages, the family of the boy is harassed not only by the family of the girl but also by the police to pressurize them to disclose the whereabouts of the boy.

"If the police is able to recover the couple, the 'husband' is generally accused of kidnapping and rape. Most of the time, such girls turn out to be minor. In such circumstances, either the girl has to stay in Nari Niketan and wait for the release of the husband or to return to the parents and succumb to their wishes to marry the person of their choice and stand as a witness against the person with whom she is in love," the bench observed.

In this case, the girl was a consenting party and had left home on her own to join the company of the person with whom she was in love, the trial court had said while acquitting Hasim.

The bench rejected police argument that the girl was a minor according to the school records.

"In the absence of any material on the basis of which date of birth was recorded at the time of her admission in the said school and failure of the prosecution to get the ossification test conducted despite being advised so by the concerned doctor, we are of the view that benefit of doubt in case of proven consent must go to the Respondent (boy)," it said.

The bench said it was established beyond reasonable doubt that the girl was "in love with the respondent. As the girl was Hindu by religion and the boy was a Muslim, to provide legal status to their relationship she left home and performed nikah in 2005. She also initiated steps for getting their marriage registered under Special Marriage Act".

"Even at the time of her being found on April 3, 2006 by the police in the presence of her father as well as at the time of her medical examination by the doctor in the presence of her mother, she did not complain of being sexually assaulted by the boy under any threat or fear," it said.

"In fact, she had run away not once but twice but ultimately had to marry the person chosen by her family which speaks of the volume of influence exercised upon her after she was recovered second time by the police," the bench noted.
The father of the girl had lodged a missing report in Sangam Vihar police station in southeast Delhi. Later, he lodged an FIR and named Hasim as the person who had kidnapped her daughter.

In her statement to the magistrate after they were traced, the girl said that on February 23, Hasim's maternal uncle and aunt had forcibly taken her to Dingerpur and made her stay with him. She said the boy raped her during her stay there.

However, she said she did not want Hasim to be punished.

The high court noted that the girl and her father were not consistent in their deposition before the police and the trial court and that "their versions continued changing colour at every level".

The bench also borrowed from a 2006 judgement to say that "runaway marriages are manifestation of a generational change due to variety of factors, including increased interaction between the sexes, with young boys and girls attaining maturity rapidly".

"It is a complex problem with inter play of social, economic, religious, caste, educational factors, including sex education and vulnerability and backwardness of the weaker sex having its impact."



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