Title: MOHD. AMAAN MALIK vs THE STATE GOVT NCT OF DELHI & ANR.
+ CRL.M.C. 7121/2022 & CRL.M.A. 8829/2023
CORAM: HON’BLE MS. JUSTICE SWARANA KANTA SHARMA
The Delhi High Court Dismissed a petition for the quashing of FIR No. 162/2021, has been filed on behalf of the petitioner under Section 482 of the Code of Criminal Procedure, 1973 (the “Cr.P.C.”) for acts punishable by Sections 363/366A/376/505 of the Indian Penal Code, 1860 (the “IPC”) and Section 6 of the Protection of Children from Sexual acts Act, 2012 (the “POCSO Act”).
Facts of the case
The present FIR was filed on 29.05.21 based out-off the statement of victim. Victim and her mother had shifted to wazirabad from daryaganj two months prior to the incident. She met the accused Mohd. Amaan Malik, a native of Daryaganj in Delhi, who was around 20 years old, while she was attending classes there while she lived there. They had become pals at the tutoring centre and had begun using mobile phones to communicate. The defendant had phoned her at Sabzi Mandi and driven her in his automobile to a guest home in Sarai Kale Khan. After that, he had provided her drink and engaged in sexual activity with her without her permission. The victim also claimed that the accused had started using her as leverage by threatening to post her inappropriate photos on social media. As a result, the victim claimed that the accused had repeatedly taken her to Sarai Kale Khan’s guest house where he had forcibly engaged in sexual activity with her.
She discovered she was pregnant on April 7, 2021, and told her mother about it. Her mother then phoned the accused and informed them of the pregnancy. Amaan, the suspect, then went to the victim’s home and threatened both the girl and her mother. At Turkman Gate on April 9, 2021, he married the victim by intimidating her mother. He then took the victim and her mother to sign the marriage licence. He then began sharing a rental home with the victim in Wazirabad, close to her mother’s home.
Accused threatened the woman, beat and molested her, and put pressure on her to get an abortion. She had requested that the accused take her to her marital house, and he had responded that he had merely conducted the marriage to get rid of her. The victim underwent a medical examination at LHMC Hospital as part of the inquiry, and a positive pregnancy test result was obtained. She had verified her statement, which was recorded under Section 164 of the Criminal Procedure Code. Her pregnancy was ended at LHMC Hospital and the foetus was saved after additional research. The suspect was detained on May 29, 2021. Blood samples from the victim, the victim’s foetus, and the accused were collected, and sent for DNA examination. The accused/petitioner was identified as the foetus’ biological father by DNA testing. It was discovered over the course of the inquiry that the victim was married. Her date of birth, which was discovered in her school records to be 12.05.2004, meant that she was 17 years old when she legally wed the accused.
Analysis of the court
Before arriving at the conclusion, the Delhi High court referred to the principles laid down in State of Haryana and Ors. v. Ch. Bhajan Lal and Ors.1992 SCC (Cri) 426 by the apex court, which is to be considered while quashing a FIRs and it also analysed the verdict of the apex court in the case of Neeharika Infrastructure v. State of Maharashtra 2021 SCC OnLine 315, and culled out the relevant principles that govern the law on quashing of FIRs under Section 482 of the Cr.P.C.
Based on the facts of the case the high court was of the opinion that on prima facie terms this was a case of sexual assault which had taken place in 2021 and due to societal stigma and pressure the victim was forced to marry the accused which got established from the date mentioned in Nikahnama, It was undisputed that the victim was a minor throughout this entire time. The Nikahnama dated 09.04.2021 further demonstrates that, considerably later than the alleged sexual assault of the victim, the victim was still a juvenile and had not yet reached the age of majority.
The Court also mentioned the controversy around the age of marriage in muslim personal law and applicability of POCSO act, it cited several judgements from various high courts as, In Aleem Pasha v. State of Karnataka 2022 SCC OnLine Kar 1588, the Hon. Karnataka High Court noted that Muslim personal law will be superseded by the POCSO Act, a unique piece of legislation designed to protect minors from sexual assaults. Earlier, in Rahul v. State of Karnataka 2021 SCC OnLine Kar 12728, the Hon’ble Karnataka High Court made a similar observation. The Hon’ble Kerala High Court recently ruled in Khaledur Rahman v. State of Kerala & Anr. 2022 SCC OnLine Ker 5833 that marriages between Muslims under personal law are not excluded from the POCSO Act’s purview and that if one of the parties to the marriage is a minor, offences under the Act still apply regardless of whether the marriage is valid or not. The Court, while referring to Section 42-A of the POCSO Act observed that the POCSO Act will prevail over personal laws and customary laws.
While on the other hand the delhi high court also took of the Hon’ble Punjab and Haryana High Court held in the case of Gulam Deen v. State of Punjab 2022 SCC OnLine P&H 1485 that a Muslim girl beyond the age of 15 is competent to engage into marriage and that Muslim personal law governs a Muslim girl’s marriage. The National Commission for the Protection of Child Rights (NCPCR) filed Special Leave Petition (Criminal) No. 26834/2022 in opposition to the aforementioned ruling, and the Hon’ble Apex Court decided to consider the issue of whether a young Muslim girl can marry after reaching puberty. The Hon. Punjab and Haryana High Court in Javed v. State of Haryana, CRWP-7426-2022(O&M), it was determined that Muslim women who were 15 years old or older might wed someone of any race. In accordance with Section 12 of the 2006 Prohibition of Child Marriage Act, such a marriage would not be invalid due to the girl’s free will and agreement. However, the Hon’ble Apex Court ruled on 13.01.2023 in Special Leave Petition (Criminal) No. 35376/2022 submitted by NCPCR that the ruling in the matter of Javed (above) should not be used as precedent in any subsequent cases. In a nutshell, as of now, the question of whether a female who reaches puberty and the age of majority after turning 15 is still considered a minor would be governed by the provisions of the POCSO Act/Child Marriage Restraint Act or not, is pending for consideration and adjudication before the hon’ble Apex Court. As a result, there are inconsistent rulings over whether the POCSO Act and the Child Marriage Restraint Act, or the personal law, will apply to a juvenile who is married under Muslim law. In any event, the claims of rape in this case are made before the couples’ marriage rather than after it, thus the court will not discuss the legitimacy of the marriage between the present petitioner and the victim.
In any case, in the current case, the minor victim expressly denies that any sexual relationships were established with her consent and describes the specifics of her initial sexual assault and subsequent sexual assaults under the threat of having her inappropriate photos made public. In these circumstances, the present case is not covered by the cases of Bhajan Lal (previous) or Neeharika Infrastructure (previous), and this Court cannot conclude from the merits of the case that the allegations against the petitioner are baseless or improbable or that the alleged offence could not have occurred.
However, this circumstance is frightening and serves as a harsh warning reminder. Occasionally, after a sexual attack, a troubling trend develops in which the accused marries the victim, In an apparent attempt to avoid being charged with a crime, they immediately desert the victim if the FIR is dismissed or bail is obtained.
This Court is not disposed to utilise its inherent authority under Section 482 Cr.P.C. for the purpose of quashing the disputed FIR in light of the overall facts and circumstances of the case. However, given that the charge arguments have not yet been heard, the issues brought before this Court can be raised before the competent Trial Court, where they will be resolved in accordance with the law. As a result, both the current petition and the awaiting application are dismissed.
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Written By – Shreyanshu Gupta
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