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Breaking: Supreme Court Dismisses Pleas By Rape Survivor & Convicted Ex-Catholic Priest To Marry Each Other

Akshita Saxena
2 Aug 2021 7:41 AM GMT
Breaking: Supreme Court Dismisses Pleas By Rape Survivor & Convicted Ex-Catholic Priest To Marry Each Other
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The Supreme Court on Monday refused to entertain an application moved by survivor of Kottiyoor rape case from Kerala, expressing willingness to marry former Catholic priest Robin Vadakkumchery, who was sentenced to 20 years imprisonment under POCSO for raping and impregnating her while she was a minor.The Court also rejected a petition filed by Robin Vadakkumcherry seeking suspension of...

The Supreme Court on Monday refused to entertain an application moved by survivor of Kottiyoor rape case from Kerala, expressing willingness to marry former Catholic priest Robin Vadakkumchery, who was sentenced to 20 years imprisonment under POCSO for raping and impregnating her while she was a minor.

The Court also rejected a petition filed by Robin Vadakkumcherry seeking suspension of his sentence to marry the survivor. The survivor had supported his plea saying that she wanted marriage to escape the social stigma and to give legitimacy to the child who was born out of the sexual crime.

A Bench of Justices Vineet Saran and Dinesh Maheshwari said that it saw no reason to disturb the High Court's order refusing to suspend Robin's sentence to marry the rape survivor.

Senior Advocate Kiran Suri stated that the victim seeks to marry the accused to give legitimacy to the child.

In her petition, she had claimed that that the child is of school-going age, and hence the father's name need to be mentioned in the school admission application form.

The bench asked about the age of the parties.

Advocate Amit George, appearing for the accused informed the Court that the accused is aged above 45 years and the victim is about 25.

George argued that his fundamental right to marry cannot be hindered in a bail plea. He stated that with the kind of sweeping observations made by the High Court regarding their proposal to marry, any application made by him to the Jail Superintendent will not yield results.

"You have invited it yourself," the Bench responded.

A single bench of Justice Sunil Thomas at the High Court had refused to suspend accused' sentence for marriage, saying that judicial approval cannot be granted to marriage when the findings of the trial court that a minor was raped are in force.

The Supreme Court opined that the observations were made by the High Court after examining all aspects of the case and stated that it does not wish to disturb that order. The Court said that the parties can raise their grievances before the High Court, where Robin's criminal appeal filed against the sentence imposed by Special POCSO Court Thalassery in 2019 is pending

Robin was the vicar of St.Sebastian's Church, Kottiyoor, Wayanad District, when the crime occurred. The victim gave birth to a girl child in February 2017.

He was arrested by police in February 2017 on his way to airport in an attempt to flee to Canada.

Last year, he moved an application before the Kerala High Court seeking suspension of sentence to marry the survivor, who had by then attained the marriageable age.

While dismissing the said application, the High Court cited several Supreme Court precedents which held that rape cases cannot be settled by approving marriage between the rapist and the survivor. Challenging this High Court order, Robin has filed special leave petition in the Supreme Court, in which the survivor has filed the present application.

During the trial, an attempt was made by Robin's defence team to argue that the girl was impregnated by her own father. However, the DNA of the child, which clearly attributed paternity to Robin, acted as a clinching piece of evidence, resulting in his conviction.

Last year, he moved an application before the Kerala High Court seeking suspension of sentence to marry the survivor, who had by then attained the marriageable age. He claimed in the application that he had consensual sex with the survivor, who was then a minor aged around 16 years. He added that the only impediment to the marriage was his priesthood and now he is eligible for entering wedlock as he had been dispensed with priestly duties and rights by the Pope and has been reduced to the state of a layman. After his conviction, the Vatican had defrocked him from priesthood.



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