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The Delhi High Court Thursday acquitted a man convicted for kidnapping and raping a minor girl in 2002, saying the girl was mature enough to take the decision to elope with him.

Justice Shiv Narayan Dhingra rejected the sessions judge’s findings that the girl was below 16 years of age when accused Kulwant Singh kidnapped her and raped her. Singh was 18-year-old at the time of the incident.

‘I accept the appeal. The conviction of Singh is hereby set aside. The appellant (Singh) be set free forthwith,’ said Justice Dhingra allowing Singh’s appeal against the conviction.

The court said the girl was mature enough to take a decision to run away with the boy while accepting a medical report which established the girl’s age was above 17 when the incident took place.

Justice Dhingra expressed his anguish for the girl’s mother who failed to furnish her daughter’s age proof.

He accepted the submission of the accused that the girl eloped with him Dec 14, 2002.

The court accepted Singh’s plea that they stayed together in his village for more than a month.

On a complaint by the girl’s mother, police arrested Singh on the charge of kidnapping and rape of the minor girl. Singh was sentenced to seven years’ rigorous imprisonment by the trial court

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