Man acquitted of charges of raping minor wife

Child marriage

A man, who had married a minor after eloping with her and had a child with her, has been acquitted of rape charges by a Delhi court on the ground that having physical relations with one's minor wife whose age is over 15-year-old is not rape.

The court said the girl, who was less than 16 years of age at the time of the incident, had eloped with the man on her own and citing a Delhi High Court judgement, it added that if the minor does not seek annulment of her marriage, it would remain valid.

The court, however, held Uttar Pradesh resident Pradeep Maurya guilty of kidnapping as the girl was minor when they had ran away and sentenced him to jail term already undergone by him during trial.

Maurya had been put on trial on charges of kidnapping a minor girl, marrying her and having a child from her after subjecting her to sexual intercourse against her wishes.

According to the prosecution, Maurya had kidnapped the

girl, also his distant relative, in October 2010 with an intention to force her for marriage. The girl's father had registered a complaint with the police that his daughter was missing and had suspected Maurya of kidnapping her.

Maurya was found in his village in Barabanki along with the girl and their 10-day-old child and were brought to Delhi, it added.

The court acquitted Maurya of the charges of forcing her to marry him and raping her saying that it has no material on record to justify his conviction on this count.

"No doubt, the accused had sexual intercourse with the girl and she was less than 16 years of age at that time, but it is to be borne in mind that Maurya had sexual intercourse with her after solemnising the marriage with her and not before that.

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