MP High Court quashes rape case, says girl at 17 or 18 capable of ‘making conscious decision’

Observing that an adolescent in the age group of 17 or 18 years would be capable of making “conscious decisions regarding his or her well-being”, the Madhya Pradesh High Court has quashed a case of rape against a 30-year-old man.

According to the prosecution, the petitioner and prosecutrix [the girl] developed friendship through Facebook and thereafter started talking over telephone.

In December 2020, the petitioner called the prosecutrix to meet him and took her to a hotel, where he allegedly sexually assaulted her and pressured her to have intercourse.

The man was accused of threatening to put her obscene pictures online and making a false promise of marriage by making her believe that he is unmarried. In 2022, the man allegedly told her that he is already married and therefore cannot marry her, according to the prosecution.

The FIR was subsequently registered on the basis of the prosecutrix’s complaint.

In his order, passed on July 12, Justice Deepak Kumar Agarwal observed, “As per the prosecution story, she is minor. This court, looking into the physical and mental development of an adolescent of that age group, would consider it logical that such a person is capable of making conscious decision as regard his or her well-being. Prima facie, it appears that there is no mens rea [intention] involved.”

The petitioner’s counsel submitted that a false FIR has been lodged after one year and intercourse, if any, was consensual.

Opposing the petitioner’s plea, the prosecution argued that the case cannot be quashed because the prosecutrix is a minor.

Rejecting the prosecution’s arguments, the court said, “Be that as it may, at this juncture this court is of the opinion that the proceeding of the case before the trial court would serve no purpose in the peculiar facts and circumstances. On due consideration being given to the submission of the parties, the prayer of the petitioner is hereby allowed.”

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