The IPC treats a girl as minor, in relation to the offence of rape, till she attains the age of 16 years and establishing physical relations with her, even with her consent, is an offence entailing life term as maximum sentence.
The accused was thus charged with rape and illegal confinement of the minor under the IPC.
"Both, the girl and accused are Muslims by religion and though, prosecutrix may be minor under the Indian Majority Act or within meaning of some of provisions of Indian Penal Code, under her present law, she having reached age of 15 years i.e age of puberty could have married accused even without the consent of her guardian, though in the present case, the prosecutrix appears to have married the accused with the consent of her parents," Additional Sessions Judge (ASJ) Illa Rawat said while acquitting the man of the charges.
The court also said that the girl was at the verge of maturity when she voluntarily eloped with the accused last year and her parents were also aware of their love affair.
It said she was neither restrained nor confined forcibly and they got married after an FIR was registered.
The court said the Mahomedan Law does not consider as an offence the marriage with a 15-year-old girl.
According to the prosecution, the girl and her mother had lodged a complaint with the police alleging that the man had raped the minor last year when she was alone in her house. The accused had also threatened the girl not to disclose the incident to anyone otherwise he would kill her entire family and thereafter he raped her several times, the prosecution said.
The girl, however, told the court that she was in love with the man and they wanted to marry but his mother was not agreeing.
A complaint was also lodged by the girl with the police praying that her marriage be allowed to be solemnised with the man, she had said.
She added that later the man's mother also agreed to their marriage and they tied the knot.
While acquitting the man, the court said, "As far as any forcible marriage or taking away of the girl for the purpose of said marriage is concerned, there is not even an iota of evidence on record."