MUMBAI: Taking exception to a rape convict's efforts at victim-shaming, the Bombay High Court has said a woman may have a boyfriend but that does not authorise another man to sexually assault her.
In an order passed last week, Justice A M Badar denied bail to a man convicted under the Prevention Of Children from Sexual Offences (POCSO) Act for repeatedly raping his minor niece.
It rejected his argument that the victim has had "two boyfriends with whom she had sexual relations".
"A woman might be of easy virtue but that does not mean that all and sundry can take advantage of this fact. She has a right to say no," Justice Badar said.
"Even if we were to assume that the victim in this case had two boyfriends, the same does not empower or authorise the applicant to commit penetrative sexual assault on her," he said.
The judge pointed out the victim had not attained the age of consent at the time of the incident.
"She has categorically stated in her cross examination that the applicant had repeatedly sexually assaulted her," he said.
The man, a resident of Nashik, was convicted and sentenced by a POCSO court in 2016 to imprisonment for 10 years.
He, however, approached the HC for bail arguing he had not committed the said offence and that he deserved to be let out on bail since he was the sole breadwinner for his family.
"The girl (victim) did not lodge a complaint or register the First Information Report (FIR) immediately after the said incident. And even after she was taken to a shelter home, she never disclosed the crime in question to anyone there," he said.
This proves the incident did not take place, he said.
She also had two boyfriends with whom she had sexual relations, the man argued.
Justice Badar, however, rejected his arguments and held that unavailability of another earning member in the family was not relevant grounds for the suspension of the sentence.
"The offence in question is a serious one and the applicant has been held guilty of the offence after a due trial. Hence, no case for grant of bail is made out," he said.