Girl not property who can be donated: Bombay High Court after father donates daughter to a godman ('Baba')
The Aurangabad bench of the Bombay High Court, earlier this month while hearing bail plea of two accused booked for sexually assaulting a 17-year-old girl, expressed displeasure over the acts of father of the victim of “donating” his daughter to a “baba” (godman), by executing ‘daanpatra’ (deed of donation).
The Aurangabad Bench of the Bombay High Court took strong exception to the act of a father "donating" his daughter to a baba while hearing the bail plea of accused for sexually assaulting the 17-year-old. [Shankeshwar @ Shambhu s/o Bhausaheb Dhakne and Anr. v. State of Maharashtra & Anr.]
"When the girl as per her own statement is minor, then why the father who is in all respect guardian of the girl should give the girl as Daan ? A girl is not a property which can be given in donation," the Court remarked.
The two applicants for bail was accused of sexually assaulting a minor girl, who lived with her father in the temple premises where a Baba lived with his disciples.
During the hearing, Justice Kankanwadi was informed of the disturbing fact that the father of the girl had executed a 'Danpatra' (donation deed) with a baba, and the deed mentioned that the kanyadan (girl donation) was done been in the presence of God.
The applicants stated in their application that the girl had filed the case against them under the influence of the 'Baba' who resided with the girl and her father. The baba and his disciples would allegedly consume narcotic and intoxicating substances and involve the youth from the village for such activities.
It was pointed out that the village held a Gram Sabha where a decision was taken to remove the Baba with his disciples, along with the victim-girl, from the temple premises as he was influencing youth in the village to consume narcotic drugs.
They claimed they had been falsely implicated in the case because they backed the resolution to remove the Baba.
The prosecution's case meanwhile was that the girl lodged a complaint with the police, and an FIR was lodged under provisions of the Indian Penal Code and the Protection of Children from Sexual Offences (POCSO) Act after she the accused outraged her modesty and raped her.
Based on the fact that the chargesheet had been filed, which implied that investigation was complete and hence, there was no requirement of the applicants in custody, Justice Kankanwadi granted bail to both accused.
During the course of hearing, when the Court was informed of the donation deed, the Court asked the father of the victim to explain his stand on an affidavit. The affidavit pointed out that after the girl's mother died, her father had given up the girl for adoption to the baba in 2018, who had signed the affidavit.
In light of these developments, Justice Kankanwadi expressed her concern about the future of the minor girl.
"in view of such document coming forward, (the Court) can’t shut the eyes," the judge said.
The Court added in the order that "it can be said that in view of the actions taken by the father of the girl in executing “Danpatra”, this Court is required to interfere. This is in view of the future of the girl and she should not be driven to do any illegal activities,"
Advocates SS Thombre with advocate PP More appeared for the applicants. Additional Public Prosecutor NT Bhagat appeared for the State. Advocate Shital E Waghmare appeared for the father.