A court in Thane has granted anticipatory bail to an 81-year-old Muslim cleric, accused of performing the marriage of a minor girl in Maharashtra.
Special Pocso court judge K D Shirbhate passed the order on February 1 and a copy of it was made available on February 6.
According to a police complaint filed by the victim last month, her marriage had been fixed to a man and it was decided that they would tie the knot after she turns 18. However, the man allegedly forced her to have physical relations with him in December 2017, when she was a minor, and later threatened her to continue with it.
She got married to the man on January 5, 2019, when she was a minor and the rituals were performed by the cleric, whom the victim has also named as an accused in her complaint. The age of the victim was not specified in the court order.
As per the victim’s complaint, after three months of their wedding, the man brought another woman at home, claiming she was his first wife whom he married on December 24, 2018. The complainant also alleged that she conceived twice after marriage and both the times, her husband forced her to terminate the pregnancy.
She also said that they used to have frequent quarrels and her husband used to beat her up. The complainant said she left her husband’s home on December 10, 2020. Last month, she lodged an FIR in which the cleric was also named as one of the accused.
The cleric subsequently filed for anticipatory bail, saying in the marriage form, the complainant’s age was mentioned as 18 and believing that both the parties are adult, he performed their ‘nikah’ as per the Muslim tradition. Hence, he has been falsely accused in the case, registered under various sections of Indian Penal Code, the Protection of Children from Sexual Offences (POCSO) Act and the Prohibition of Child Marriage Act, he said.
The judge in her order said the applicant’s role is limited to the extent of performing the marriage rituals. So, he is entitled to grant of anticipatory bail on certain terms and conditions, the court said.