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Bail plea of rape accused denied: ‘Pandemic delayed trial, but prosecution ready to proceed now’

“Admitted fact is that because of the pandemic situation in the world and the lockdown, the trial was stuck but the prosecution is ready to proceed with the matter,” the court said.

REJECTING THE bail application of a man accused of raping a minor, a special court in Mumbai, in a recent order, said that he cannot claim bail on the ground that the trial expedited by the Bombay High Court was not concluded within the stipulated time. The special judge said that currently there was only one court in Dindoshi City Civil and Sessions Court — which handles cases of western suburbs of the city — designated under the Protection of Children from Sexual Offences (POCSO) Act. The court also said that the pandemic had caused the delay.

“Admitted fact is that because of the pandemic situation in the world and the lockdown, the trial was stuck but the prosecution is ready to proceed with the matter,” the court said.

The 45-year-old accused in the case, lodged in Thane jail, was booked on charges including rape, sexual harassment and other sections of the POCSO Act by Versova police in 2017 for allegedly sexually assaulting a six-year old girl. After his bail application was rejected by the special court, he had approached the Bombay High Court, which rejected the plea too, but gave directions to the special court to expedite the trial and conclude it within nine months.

The accused filed for bail again before the special court last month, claiming that while the High Court’s directions to conclude the trial within nine months were given in July 2019, the trial was not over. He also sought bail on other grounds, including claiming innocence.

“The trial could not be concluded because of earlier expedited, urgent and undertrial matters. Now, the situation is that only one court at Dindoshi (is) dealing with POCSO matters. This court is taking charge of all matters including POCSO, other IPC (Indian Penal Code), women atrocity matters, PITA (Prevention of Immoral Trafficking Act), remands etc and additional charge of other ABA (anticipatory bail applications), BA (bail applications)……So, it all goes beyond the capacity of one judge to handle this situation and court needs to adjust daily boards by giving priority to urgent matters…. bail, ABA… senior citizens…” the court said.

The judge said the courts were back to functioning regularly and the matter can be heard. The court also said the victim, in her statement, had spoken about the assault and since the accused lived in her vicinity, releasing him on bail could cause harm to her.

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