Mumbai: The Bombay High Court bench of Justices Sambhaji Shinde and Nitin Borkar on Thursday refused to quash an FIR registered against a man and his wife for torturing a minor girl. They brought the girl in the city from Bihar for employing her as a domestic help. The bench said the offence by the couple is against the society and not a personal or civil dispute.
The bench was seized with a plea filed by Ranjit and Rishiprabha Prasad, living in a lavish society at Chembur. The duo was booked on an FIR lodged by the cleaners of their society for exploiting the minor girl.
According to the FIR, the couple had brought the girl from Bihar as her parents were financially unstable and could not take care of her. The couple brought her to Mumbai and then made her work in their house, to look after their daughter and even assaulted her on mistakes.
The girl's parents from Bihar and also the complainant cleaner had filed an affidavit before the bench, urging the judges to quash the FIR and free the Prasad couple. The cleaner said that he had some misunderstanding and the girl's parents claimed that they had "good relations" with Prasad couple and that they were properly taking her care and even admitted her to a school in Chembur.
However, the bench noted the statements of the girl, who stated that in Prasad's house she used to do cleaning, washing work and used to clean utensils and look after their small daughter. "She stated that the wife (Rishiprabha), occasionally used to beat her when she committed mistakes. She further stated that, once she forgot the house keys inside the house and door was automatically locked, for which the wife had beaten her," the bench noted.
The judges further noted that the girl had stated that she wants to go to her parents and she is not willing to continue her stay with the Prasad couple.
Further the girl testified that she was given only two chapatis to eat, which wasn't sufficient to meet her hunger and if she asked for more food Rishiprabha would ask her to eat less as she might become fat.
"Therefore, merely because parents of victim and the complainant have filed the affidavits praying to quash the FIR on the basis of amicable settlement, the FIR and charge sheet cannot be quashed. Prima facie it appears that financial condition of parents of victim is not good to pull on the needs of family and therefore, under said circumstances said girl was given in the custody of Prasad," the judges said.
The bench while noting the aim and objective of the Juvenile Justice act said that the special legislation has been brought into force "to ensure proper care, protection, development, treatment, social re-integration, by adopting a child-friendly approach keeping in view the best interest of children in mind."
The judges further said that this Act shall apply to all matters concerning child in need and the child in conflict with law and it also have overriding effect over other laws pertaining to children.
The bench dismissed the contention of the Prasad couple that this is more of a civil natured case as it is a private dispute. However, the judges said, "Such offences are truly speaking, not private in nature but have a serious impact upon society and thus the FIR cannot be quashed."
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