Cases Involving Kidnapping Of Minors Can't Be Quashed By Settlement, Involves Practice Of Children Being Treated As Commodity: Delhi High Court
The Delhi High Court has observed that criminal proceedings in cases involving children cannot be quashed on the basis of settlement between parties as it could contribute to the perpetuation of a culture where rights and dignity of minors are subjugated to negotiation and compromise. “In other words, such a settlement raises ethical and legal concerns as it involves a practice where a child...
The Delhi High Court has observed that criminal proceedings in cases involving children cannot be quashed on the basis of settlement between parties as it could contribute to the perpetuation of a culture where rights and dignity of minors are subjugated to negotiation and compromise.
“In other words, such a settlement raises ethical and legal concerns as it involves a practice where a child is effectively being treated as a commodity, jeopardizing the child's well-being and contravening basic principles of law,” Justice Swarana Kanta Sharma said.
The court observed that quashing criminal proceedings in such cases would send a message to the society that the severity of crimes against children, even those involving kidnapping and trafficking, can be mitigated or overlooked through private agreements, thereby eroding the very foundation of the rule of law.
”Moreover, the acceptance of such settlements could contribute to the perpetuation of a culture where the rights and dignity of children are subjugated to negotiation and compromise. This would set a precedent that contradicts the principles of justice and protection inherent in our legal system,” the court said.
Justice Sharma made the observations while refusing to quash an FIR regarding kidnapping of two siblings, a three year old minor girl and two year old boy, in a case lodged by their father.
The court dismissed the petition moved by the accused persons seeking quashing of the FIR and the criminal proceedings emanating from the same on the ground of settlement with the minors' parents.
Rejecting the plea, the court noted that the minors were kidnapped by one accused who sold to the co-accused, both of whom sought quashing of the case.
“On one hand, there is a deeply troubling situation where a three year old minor girl, along with her younger brother, was kidnapped and subsequently sold to a couple by the accused. While the criminal act itself is distressing, a new layer of complexity has emerged as the parents of the kidnapped child have recently entered into a settlement with the accused persons,” the court said.
It added that the idea that a girl child can be subjected to a transaction, where her custody is negotiated as if it was a piece of property, challenges the very principles of rule of law.
Justice Sharma said that it was unfortunate that the parents wanted their children to remain with the kidnappers since they state that the accused persons will adopt them as per law.
“The law, however, cannot side with those who are on the opposite side of law. The Judges though faced with such dilemmas, have to still stand firm on the side of law; and while making every effort to balance the rights of victims, cannot loose sight of the larger implications of such settlements on the society as a whole. Examine from this prospective, the present case is not a case where such dilemma has to lead to exercise of discretion of benevolence by the Court under its writ jurisdiction,” the court said.
Title: SMT. RUBINA & ORS. v. THE STATE (GOVT OF NCT OF DELHI) & ORS.
Citation: 2023 LiveLaw (Del) 1239