PESHAWAR: The Peshawar High Court on Friday granted bail to two juvenile persons charged with sexually assaulting a seven-year-old boy, filming the crime and releasing the video on social media.
Justice Mohammad Ijaz Khan of a single-member bench accepted a joint petition of the two suspects on the condition of furnishing two surety bonds of Rs100,000 each.
The bench observed that the records revealed that one suspect was 14 and the other 11 with the latter, according to the doctors, being unable to perform sexual intercourse.
It added that both suspects were schoolchildren, so that was also considered for the grant of bail to them.
The bench observed that a Supreme Court judgement delivered in 2021 had extended the benefit of doubt to an accused even at the stage of bail by observing that the basic idea was to enable the accused to answer criminal prosecution against him rather than rot him behind the bars.
It added that every accused was innocent until his guilt was proved and thatthe benefit of doubt could be extended to the accused even at the stage of bailif the facts of the case warranted so.
`The basic philosophy of criminal jurisprudence is that the prosecution has to prove its case beyond reasonable doubt and this principle applies at all stages, includingpre-trial one and even at the time of deciding whether accused is entitled to bail or nor,` the bench observed.
The FIR of the assault was registered at the Alpuri police station in Shangla district on June 15, 2022, under sections 377 (unnatural of fence) and 506 (criminal intimidation) of the Pakistan Penal Code and sections 48 (child pornography) and 53 (sexual abuse) of the Khyber Pakhtunkhwa Child Protection and Welfare Act.
Complainant in the case was the assault victim`s father said his son was a first grader in a local school. Hesaid he learned from a viral video about his child`s sexual abuse by two suspects. He said his son laterconfirmed that he was subjected to the crime when he was out in a forest to collecting firewood.
The boy told the complainant that the suspects had threatened him that if he informed anyone about the incident, he would be killed, so he kept quiet out of fear.
The bench observed that the records would reveal that though the prosecution had levelled allegations under Section 377 of the PPC against the suspects, but there was neither any medico-legalexamination of their alleged victim nor any other evidence to support them as the alleged sexual assault wasn`t witnessed by anyone and instead, it was caught on camera.
It added that the video had been seized by the prosecution but the expert opinion on its originality was awaited, so the matter required further probe.