The Bombay High Court bench of Justice Bharati Dangre on Monday granted bail to a man booked for raping a minor girl, who lived on the platform of Andheri railway station and has gone missing since the rape incident. The bench while granting bail to the accused said he couldn't be allowed to languish in the jail when the victim isn't traceable.
The bench was hearing a bail plea filed by a man, who was arrested in 2018 by the Andheri police station for raping a minor girl in a moving autorickshaw.
As per the prosecution case, the girl was acquainted with an autorickshaw driver, who allegedly raped her along with his brother - the applicant who had petitioned Justice Dangre's bench for bail.
The girl claimed that she was given beer and food by the men and later raped her. The man, who sought bail, was caught red handed while sexually assaulting the victim in a moving rickshaw.
The rickshaw was intercepted by a motorist, who heard the girl's cries when the rickshaw stopped near a traffic signal. In his defence, the man claimed that the girl was actively involved in flesh trade and had even aborted a foetus earlier.
However, in April when the bail plea was first heard, the bench was informed that the girl had been missing. The judge while slamming the Mumbai Police had ordered the investigating team to trace the girl. Since then, the matter came up for hearing several times and on each date of hearing, the bench was informed that the girl continues to be untraceable.
On Monday when the matter was heard, the bench said, "A categorical statement is made that Andheri Police station team is taking serious efforts to trace the victim girl". "When the matter is being heard today, the position continues to remain the same and except for lamenting about the unfortunate situation, nothing more can be done by this Court to trace the girl,", Justice Dangre noted in her orders.
"No doubt, the accusation faced by the accused is serious one but, in absence of any proof to demonstrate that the victim girl is aged 16 years and a minor and, the basis of recording her age as 16 in the hospital papers being not known, in the absence of any documentary proof or any ossification test being carried out, he cannot be kept incarcerated for further period of time", the court held.
The court further noted that the medical papers had mentioned the victim's age as 17 and 18 years on different occasions. "The medical papers further revealed the mental status of the girl and on June 2018, the medical papers recorded her behaviour as 'highly violent'– laughing at inappropriate time", the judge noted while granting him bail.