Delay in minor victim’s testimony not grounds for granting bail to accused in sexual assault case: Delhi HC

New Delhi, Mar 2 – The Delhi High Court has said that delays in the testimony of a minor victim of sexual assault and human trafficking cannot be used as grounds for granting bail to the accused.

Justice Swarana Kanta Sharma noted the profound impact of sexual assault and human trafficking on a minor victim, inflicting the enduring mental trauma that extends beyond physical harm.

The court said that delays in the victim’s testimony, often due to the complexities of trauma recovery, should not provide leeway for the accused to seek bail.

The observations came as the court denied bail to a man accused of raping a 12-year-old girl under the Protection of Children from Sexual Offences (POCSO) Act.

Despite efforts by the trial court, the minor remained silent and displayed extreme emotional distress during counseling sessions.

Justice Sharma, while perusing the minor’s statement recorded before the magistrate, noted that the accused had forcibly brought her to Delhi from Ranchi, and exploited her for labour without pay.

The court noted the gravity of the case, which not only involved sexual assault against a minor, but also underscored the grim reality of human trafficking and exploitative labour practices.

Recognising the victim’s trauma and the need for comprehensive counseling before her testimony, the court deemed it inappropriate to grant bail to the accused.

It said that the inability to testify was not due to a lack of willingness, but stemmed from the trauma of sexual abuse and trafficking.

The court pointed out its duty to ensure that accused persons involved in such serious offenses are not released on bail, particularly when the victim faces challenges in providing testimony due to the impact of trauma.

It also stressed the importance of safeguarding the rights and well-being of young victims, ensuring that justice is served despite the hurdles posed by the trauma they endure.

spr/arm

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