Mumbai: Young people with hearing and speech disabilities who escaped with a minor partner acquitted of rape

MUMBAI: A special court of the Law on the Protection of Children against Sexual Offenses (Pocso) recently acquitted a man with hearing and speech disability, now 23 years old, four years after he was arrested for allegedly abducting and sexually assaulting his school partner of then 15 years.

The couple had fled to Tirupati in October 2014, and was brought back to the city in January 2015 after police tracked the girl after her mother's complaint. In Tirupati, the man had hired a job in a restaurant for 120 rupees per day.

During the trial, the man had expressed, in sign language, that he should not be punished for being in love and that he had married the girl.

“The intention of the suspect is not lust, but to start a family. The victim took the initiative in the decision to leave with him and understood the meaning of the male-female relationship and marriage, the court said. She had voluntarily traveled with him by public transport ... He never objected when he introduced her as his wife to obtain residence. The duo was deposed in sign language interpreted by teachers of a special school.

The court also noted that the registered documents were not sufficient to prove that the girl was a minor.

In court, the girl had said that the man had forced her to have sex, but in her statement to the magistrate registered shortly after she was tracked in 2015, she had accepted that she was consensual. By accepting his version of the agreed sex, the Pocso court reasoned that they lived in a crowded area in Tirupati. “His behavior was never of a person who needs help. It is seen that they continued to live together for a considerable period and did not intend to return ... she did not try to flee when she would go alone to the common bathroom. The court added that his medical report is consistent with his statement to the magistrate that the sex was consensual

Noting another contradiction in the girl's statement, the court said the teacher had misinterpreted in the FIR that she claimed to have been sexually assaulted. The court held that this is a case in which a boy and a girl with different abilities who were in love decided to live together without parental consent.

(The identity of the victim has not been revealed to protect their privacy according to the directives of the Supreme Court in cases related to sexual assault)