The Meghalaya High Court has rejected the bail plea of a youth who was accused of raping a girl. The order was passed by the bench of Justice Wanlura Diengdoh today.
The bail plea was moved by Raymon Nongkhlaw who was arrested on May 25, 2023 in connection with Ri-Bhoi Women PS Case No. 29 (05) 2023 under Section 354(A)(i)/376(1) of the Indian Penal Code read with Section 3(a)/4/7/8 POCSO Act. Nongkhlaw is now in judicial custody.
The Investigating Officer had filed the charge sheet, and the matter proceeded before the Trial Court being registered as G.R. Case No. 175/ 2023 under Section 354(A)(i)/376(1) IPC, 1860 read with Section 3(a)/4 POCSO Act, 2012.
Nongkhlaw’s lawyer D K Warjri told the High Court that the accused and the rape survivor were involved in a love relationship where they met twice in the month of December, 2022. However, the lawyer asserted that no sexual encounter took place between the two and that the FIR was lodged by the mother of the survivor only on the assumption or supposition that her minor daughter has been sexually assaulted by the accused, thereby resulting in her being pregnant and that too, as on the date of filing of the FIR which is on May 23, 2023, the survivor was 5 weeks into her pregnancy.
Warjri further stated that the accused being a young person of about 19 years of age and is pursuing his studies, for which he has to appear for his examination. Urging the court to grant bail to the accused in order to allow him to pursue his studies, the lawyer also assured that the accused, if freed on bail, would undertake to abide by any conditions to be imposed by the court.
The High Court observed that according to the charge sheet, it is the opinion of the Investigating Officer after completion of investigation that the case of sexual assault upon the survivor is not confined only to the accused, but to another person who have also been named in the charge sheet. The court also said that the Investigating Officer has recommended further prosecution against both the accused, requiring them to face trial under the relevant provisions of the IPC as well as the POCSO Act respectively.
It is also the opinion of the Investigating Officer that the victim is currently 16 weeks pregnant and that the DNA sample for paternity test will be done so only after delivery of the child since there are two alleged perpetrators involved.
“This court is conscious of the fact that this is a case involving a minor, who according to the report of the Investigating Officer, is stated to be ‘little mentally unsound’ and is also suffering from ‘Major Depressive Disorder’. Given this condition, prima facie, it would appear that the survivor may have been taken advantage of by the accused, son of the petitioner and the other perpetrator. The seriousness of the offence cannot be overlooked and even, if this court would consider the off repeated principle of bail jurisprudence, as far as grant of bail is concerned, that bail is the rule and jail is an exception, it is apparent that the gravity and seriousness of the nature of the offence has to be taken into account. Under the circumstances, at this point of time, this court is not inclined to allow the prayer made by the petitioner. The petition is accordingly dismissed as devoid of merit,” Justice Diengdoh said in his order.