The Orissa High Court on Friday granted bail to a man accused of rape of a minor, noting his submission that while availing interim bail, he has married the survivor, who has now attained majority.
Justice B. P. Routray was hearing an application under Section 439 Cr.P.C. for grant of bail to the petitioner in connection with a case for alleged commission of offences under Sections 376(2)(n)/417/276(2) of the IPC and Section 6 of the POCSO Act, pending before the Additional District and Sessions Judge-cum-Special Court.
The Single Judge noted that the petitioner was initially in custody since 13.02.2020 and by virtue of the order of a coordinate bench of the High Court dated 2.6.2020, he was granted interim bail. Subsequently, on surrendering, he was again taken into custody from 06.07.2020.
The Single Bench observed that during the period of his interim bail, he has married the victim and she is now residing as the wife of the petitioner in his house. "To that effect a copy of the affidavit dated 8.6.2020 has been filed on behalf of the petitioner", recorded the Court.
"Having considered such submission", Justice Routray directed that the petitioner be released on bail in the aforesaid case on such terms and conditions to be fixed by the learned court below in seisin over the matter.
Last week, rape convict Robin Vadakkumcheriyil, ex-priest of Catholic Church, had moved the Kerala High Court for suspension of his sentence to marry the female he had raped and impregnated when she was a minor.
Subsequently, an intervention application was filed urging, "The relief at this stage citing his desire to marry the victim, it will open the door for many such men who commit the offence of rape or aggravated sexual assault to force or coerce their victims into a compromise in order to escape the rigours of law. Such practices have been categorically looked down upon by the Hon'ble Supreme Court, and must not be encouraged in any judicial proceeding or stage".
The ex-priest's bail plea was adjourned to August 4 by the High Court on Friday, to be considered along with the intervention.
The relief at this stage citing his desire to marry the victim, it will open the door for many such men who commit the offence of rape or aggravated sexual assault to force or coerce their victims into a compromise in order to escape the rigours of law. Such practices have been categorically looked down upon by the Hon'ble Supreme Court, and must not be encouraged in any judicial proceeding or stage",stated the impleading application filed in the criminal appeal filed by Robin.
It may be noted that the Supreme Court has time-and-again come down strongly on the issue of compromise in instances of rape. In 2013, in Shimbhu's case, a three-judge bench had declared: "...a compromise entered into between the parties cannot be construed as a leading factor based on which lesser punishment can be awarded. Rape is a non-compoundable offence and it is an offence against the society and is not a matter to be left for the parties to compromise and settle. Since the Court cannot always be assured that the consent given by the victim in compromising the case is a genuine consent, there is every chance that she might have been pressurised by the convicts or the trauma undergone by her all the years might have compelled her to opt for a compromise. In fact, accepting this proposition will put an additional burden on the victim. The accused may use all his influence to pressurise her for a compromise. So, in the interest of justice and to avoid unnecessary pressure/harassment to the victim, it would not be safe in considering the compromise arrived at between the parties in rape cases to be a ground for the Court to exercise the discretionary power under the proviso of Section 376(2) IPC."
Similarly, in 2015 in State of MP v. Madanlal, the top court had clearly iterated as follows: "in a case of rape or attempt of rape, the conception of compromise under no circumstances can really be thought of. These are crimes against the body of a woman which is her own temple. These are offences which suffocate the breath of life and sully the reputation. And reputation, needless to emphasise, is the richest jewel one can conceive of in life. No one would allow it to be extinguished. When a human frame is defiled, the "purest treasure", is lost. Dignity of a woman is a part of her non- perishable and immortal self and no one should ever think of painting it in clay. There cannot be a compromise or settlement as it would be against her honour which matters the most. It is sacrosanct. 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. We are compelled to say so as such an attitude reflects lack of sensibility towards the dignity, the elan vital, of a woman. Any kind of liberal approach or thought of mediation in this regard is thoroughly and completely sans legal permissibility."
Nevertheless, the practice of quashing of criminal proceedings upon marriage of the accused with the rape victim is quite prevalent among the constitutional courts
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