HC grants bail to man held for sexually assaulting `friend` at Mumbai beach

The Bombay High Court has granted bail to a man arrested for allegedly sexually assaulting a woman at a crowded beach in Mumbai in 2021, noting the victim and the accused were friends and charges against him appear implausible.

Judge Prithiviraj Chavan, in an order passed on Wednesday, pointed out that the victim`s statement recorded before a magistrate`s court revealed she was friends with the accused, and also noted that charges in the three-year-old case have not yet been framed by the trial court.

“Since the victim was a major at the time of the alleged offence, prima facie, it does not appeal to one`s mind that in broad daylight at a crowded Juhu Chowpatty (beach) on the day Eid-Ul-Fitr, the applicant would commit forcible sexual intercourse with the victim,” the HC observed.

No sane man would believe it, the judge added.

The HC also said that since the victim was an adult at the time of the alleged incident, there was no need to invoke the Protection of Children from Sexual Offences (POCSO) Act against the accused.

The accused was booked under relevant provisions of the IPC for rape, outraging modesty of woman, stalking, among others, as well as sections of the POCSO Act.

The alleged incident took place on May 14, 2021, when the victim had been to Juhu Chowpatty (beach) in suburban Mumbai along with the accused.

He sought sexual favours which the victim refused. However, the applicant then threatened her with dire consequences and sexually assaulted her at an isolated place at the tourist site, the prosecution submitted.

The court, in the order, noted there was no need to invoke the POCSO Act against the accused as the victim`s age, as per medical reports, was more than 18 years.

The applicant is in jail ever since his arrest in June 2021. It is informed that the trial court has not yet framed charges and, therefore, there is no likelihood of bringing the trial to its logical end (anytime soon), the HC noted.

Having considered all the aforesaid peculiar circumstances, the application (for bail) is allowed, the Judge said.

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