The court was hearing a bail application filed by Hanjla Iqbal, who was booked for the offense under section 376/34 of the IPC, which was along with section 6 of the Prevention of Child from Sexual Offenses (POCSO) Act. was read. The High Court held that a person who has consensual physical relationship with another person is not required to judicially examine the date of birth of the other person.
Granting bail to Hanjla Iqbal, Justice Jasmeet Singh observed that a person need not see Aadhar card or PAN card or verify his date of birth from his school records before having physical relationship. With regard to the present case, the Court held that the presence of Aadhar card with date of birth of January 1, 1998, was sufficient for the applicant to conclude that he was not involved in physical relationship with a minor. The complainant had alleged that in September 2019, Iqbal called her to a hotel in Delhi’s Paharganj and had physical relations with her and videotaped her and later blackmailed her.
It was also alleged that Iqbal forced her to have physical relations with different people under threat of releasing the video. The complainant had further alleged that in August 2021, she managed to escape from Iqbal’s house, where she was held captive, and met a woman Savita, a lawyer who helped her in registering the FIR. On the contrary, Iqbal’s counsel submitted that the incident took place in September 2019 and the complainant had 4 different dates of birth, and as per his Aadhaar card, it was 1 January 1998, while on his PAN card it was 25 February 2004. Iqbal’s counsel further submitted that as per the verification done by the State, the date of birth of the complainant was 1st June 2015, and argued that he had given the date of birth as per his convenience, only to invoke the provisions of the POCSO Act.
He further alleged that the complainant was extorting money from Iqbal and when he refused to comply with his demands on April 30, 2022, he filed an FIR against him on the same day, 3 years after the incident. Further, it was claimed that the investigation conducted by the police was shoddy, and there were financial transactions indicating an amount of Rs 4,50,000 from Iqbal’s account, which was not investigated by the police. He said that the Aadhaar card was not verified, there was no verification of the multiple Instagram accounts of the complainant and there was no investigation of the neighbors of the houses where the complainant alleged that it was locked. Noting that “there was more to this case than meets the eye”, the court said that it was the testimony of the complainant that she was in a relationship with Iqbal since 2019, and that if he blackmailed her, she would could contact. The court further said, “The allegation of blackmailing on the pretext of video does not instill confidence in me, as the complainant has not stated in the FIR that Iqbal had ‘forcefully’ had physical relations with her.”
The Court held that a person who has consensual physical relations with another person need not judicially examine the date of birth of the other person. Before entering into physical relationship, he need not see his Aadhar card, PAN card or verify his date of birth from his school records and mere presence of Aadhar card with date of birth as 1st January 1998. It is sufficient for the applicant to conclude that he was not involved in a physical relationship with a minor. The Court also noted that a large amount of money has been transferred in favor of the complainant, and noted that this aspect has not been examined in the status report.
The court referred to a case named Kapil Gupta Vs State in which the High Court bench observed that there are cases where innocent people have been trapped and huge sums of money have been siphoned off from them. Thus the court directed the Commissioner of Police to personally investigate such cases of honey trapping and granted bail to the accused in the present case.