The Kerala High Court has quashed criminal proceedings against a rape accused who married the victim.
The man was accused of offences punishable under Secs.366A, 376 and Secs.3(a) r/w 4 of the POCSO Act. He approached the High Court contending that the disputes have been amicably settled between himself and the victim, who he married. A marriage certificate was produced before the court and it was submitted they have a daughter aged 4 months now.
The victim also submitted before the court that it will be more in her interest that the impugned criminal proceedings be quashed, as otherwise their marital life will be put into jeopardy, and there will be no one to take care of her as well as her young child hardly aged 4 months
Justice Alexander Thomas, though observed that grave and serious offences cannot be the subject matter of quashment of the impugned criminal proceedings on the ground of settlement between the accused and the victim, took note of a judgment by Kerala High Court in Freddy @ Antony Francis & Ors. v. State of Kerala.
Referring to the said judgment (by Justice Raja Vijayaraghavan V.), the court observed that, where the accused has married the de-facto complainant and they have decided to settle all the disputes and for the predominant purpose of the welfare of the de-facto complainant/ victim, to ensure her better future life, the High Court in exercise of the extra ordinary inherent powers under Sec.482 of the Cr.P.C. could quash the criminal proceedings on the ground of settlement between the parties in cases where the accused has married the de-facto complainant and the de-facto complainant is insisting for quashment of the impugned criminal proceedings, etc.
Allowing the petition, the court observed that, if the criminal proceedings in this case are not quashed, it will detrimentally affect the family life of victim, and even the balance and harmony that could be achieved by them in the resolution of disputes that again be irrecoverably lost.
Freddy @ Antony Francis Case
In this case, the accused allegedly induced the 'victim' to have sexual intercourse with him on the assurance that he would marry her. The crime was registered when the girl apprehended that the accused would go back on his word and not marry her. During the pendency of the criminal proceedings, the accused and victim married each other. They together approached the High Court seeking to quash the proceedings against the accused. Allowing the petition, the court had observed:
"It is borne out from the statement recorded by the Sub Inspector of Police of the 2nd petitioner that the parties were in love and the Crime was registered when the 2nd petitioner was under the impression that the 1st petitioner would resile from his earlier promise. However, in view of the subsequent turn of events, she has realized that her apprehension was baseless . The parties are living together as husband and wife . There is no case for anyone that the dignity of the 2nd petitioner was violated by a wanton act of the 1st petitioner. This is not one of those cases wherein the allegations reek of extreme depravity, perversity or cruelty. It cannot be said that the offence in the instant case would fall in the category of offences that have a serious impact on society. In the peculiar facts of the instant case, grave hardship and inconvenience will be caused to the 2nd petitioner, if the prosecution is permitted to continue."
Supreme Court Had Said No To Liberal Approach In Such Cases
However, there is a Supreme Court judgment by Justice Dipak Misra which categorically held that in a case of rape or attempt of rape, the conception of compromise under no circumstances can really be thought of.
"Sometimes solace is given that the perpetrator of the crime has acceded to enter into wedlock with her which is nothing but putting pressure in an adroit manner; and we say with emphasis that the Courts are to remain absolutely away from this subterfuge to adopt a soft approach to the case, for any kind of liberal approach has to be put in the compartment of spectacular error. Or to put it differently, it would be in the realm of a sanctuary of error," it was observed in State of MP vs. Madanlal.
Many High Courts Have Quashed Rape Cases
This year, at least 10 such cases have been quashed by the Kerala High Court on the ground that the accused has married the victim and they have settled all the disputes. In March, last year, the Punjab and Haryana High Court had quashed a rape case recording compromise. The Gauhati High Court had also quashed criminal proceedings against a 'rape accused' who later married the 'victim' observing that chances of conviction in the case is bleak in view of the compromise between the parties and marriage. The Delhi High Court had reduced sentence of rape convict to period already he underwent in custody, because he married the victim. The Calcutta High Court had reduced the sentence awarded to a rape accused to 'the period already undergone' taking into account the fact that the prosecutrix and the accused are married (to each other) and have settled in life with their children. The High Court had observed that such a circumstance appears to be "adequate and special reason" for imposing lesser sentence.
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