Jammu and Kashmir High Court Grants Bail To Accused Held in Custody for Kidnapping a 13-Year Old Girl

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On 03.06.2020, the Single Judge Bench of Hon’ble Justice Puneet Gupta heard the case of Paltu vs UT of Jammu and Kashmir via video-conferencing. The Court granted bail to the applicant subject to certain conditions.

Facts of the case

Co-accused Paltu is the applicant in this case. The main accused is Ravi Kumar. Paltu is Ravi Kumar’s father. The main accused mixed an intoxicant in a minor girl’s cold drink before kidnapping her. The main accused Ravi Kumar kidnapped the girl with the help of his parents. Paltu’s wife, Sita Devi is also one of the co-accused. She absconded on the day of the event. On 23.04.2020, the Chief Juvenile Magistrate released another co-accused Pawan alias Karan on interim bail as he is a minor. The main accused kidnapped the girl when her parents were away. However, the girl has been now recovered from the possession of Ravi Kumar.

Thereafter, the Vijaypur Police Station registered an FIR for offences under Section 363 and Section 109 of Indian Penal Code, read with Section 8 of the Protection of Children from Sexual Offences (POCSO) Act, 2012
. The learned Principal Sessions Judge Samba dismissed the bail application casually and mechanically. Thus, the applicant-accused filed an application for the grant of bail in this Court.

Contentions of the Applicant

The police have not filed an offence against Paltu under Section 8 of the Protection of Children from Sexual Offences (POCSO) Act, 2012. The allegedly kidnapped girl has recovered already. This is an implication of a false and frivolous criminal case against the accused Paltu. Therefore, the Court should grant bail to the accused.

Contentions of the Respondent

The prosecution produced a challan against the accused Ravi Kumar and Paltu in the competent court of law. Further, the supplementary challan will be produced on completion of other formalities which could not be done due to the lockdown.

The Child Welfare Committee of Jakh, Samba recorded the statement of the victim. Involvement of the accused in a serious offence is evident. Hence, the Court should not grant bail at this stage of the case.

Court’s Analysis

The accused party’s involvement limits itself to the extent of conspiring in the kidnap of the minor girl. Other allegations such as offences under Section 8 of the POCSO Act cannot be filed against the accused. The respondents have not brought on record that Paltu committed sexual assault on the minor girl. Further, the police added an offence under Section 8 of the POCSO Act only at a later stage. Therefore, the involvement of the accused is not prima facie made out under the POCSO Act. In such a case, bail should not be denied to the accused who is in custody for the past forty days.

The Court said that it should not deny the accused bail
because his son and other family members are also accused in the case. The Court is aware of the fact that there is every possibility of the accused tampering with the prosecution evidence.

Court’s Decision

The Court granted bail to the accused-applicant Paltu subject to the following conditions – Firstly, the applicant should furnish a personal bond of ₹20,000 before the Jail-in-Charge concerned. Secondly, he should furnish a surety bond of Rs 20,000 before the Trial Court. Thirdly, he shall neither tamper with the prosecution evidence nor make any contact with the family of the victim during the pendency of the challan
Any expression used in the order shall have no bearing on the merits of the challan produced by the prosecution. Hence, the Court disposed of the application.

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