The Delhi High Court granted bail to a man accused of raping a two-and-a-half year old girl, while observing that there had been a delay of eight hours in filing of the first information report against him, Live Law reported on Friday.

“The prosecutrix being 2.5 years old, due to which her statement was not recorded, however, without commenting on the merits of the prosecution case and keeping in view the fact that there is a delay of 8 hours in registration of FIR, I am of the view that the petitioner deserves bail,” the order passed by a single bench of Justice Suresh Kumar Kait said.

The court was hearing a plea by the accused, Shiv Chander, booked under sections of the Indian Penal Code and the Protection of Children from Sexual Offences Act. The man was accused of unzipping his pants and insisting the girl to perform oral sex.

As per the FIR, on seeing the incident, a lot of neighbours gathered and beat the man up, who was allegedly in an intoxicated state. A case was registered in a South Delhi police station, and the man was arrested, according to The Indian Express.

During the hearing, the bench said there were certain contradictions in the material placed on record. It said that there was neither any sign of beating nor any indication that the man was intoxicated in his medicolegal case.

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The court added, “If the neighbors had beaten the petitioner and he was in a state of intoxication then the said fact should have come in the MLC, but the said MLC does not show any sign of bruises or abrasion, indicating that there was no public beating which was alleged in the FIR.”

The judge further contemplated why an FIR was not registered immediately, when the girl’s family had knowledge of the crime. “This court has seen the CCTV footage and in the said CCTV footage, father of the victim was outside the building,” he added. “Complainant entered into the building and within a minute, he is seen catching hold of the petitioner and bringing him out. If such type of heinous crime had taken place and that with a 2.5 years old girl, why immediately the FIR was not registered.”

Based on these observations, the court granted the accused bail on a personal bond of Rs 15,000, with one surety of the same amount.

Notably, the Supreme Court has in a catena of judgements held that even a long delay in registration of FIR can be accepted if the witness has no motive of falsely implicating the accused.

“Delay in setting the law into motion by lodging the complaint is normally viewed by the courts in suspicion because there is possibility of concoction of evidence against the accused,” the Supreme Court had observed in one such judgement, according to Live Law. “In such cases, it becomes necessary for the prosecution to satisfactorily explain the delay in registration of FIR. But there may be cases where the delay in registration of FIR is inevitable and the same has to be considered.”