“If an accused rapist wants to quash POCSO proceedings by marrying the victim – it is not a ground-held”, Kerala High Court.
Recently held by the Kerala High Court that when the offenses attract the provisions of the Protection of Children from Sexual Offences (POCSO) Act, 2012, a settlement of marriage between an accused rapist and the survivor is not grounds to quash proceedings against the accused (Rahul PR vs State of Kerala and others).
The fact of the case:-
An order was issued by the court in a case where the petitioner charged the accused of forcibly removing the then 17-year-old victim from her house and raping her.
The accused was booked for offenses punishable under Sections 366A, 376, and 34 of the Indian Penal Code (IPC), and Section 4 read with Section 3, Section 6 read with Section 5 and Section 17 reads with Section 16 of the POCSO (Protection of children from sexual offenses) Act.
Thereafter, the accused approached the High Court to quash the First Information Report (FIR), the final report and further proceedings pending before an Additional District and Sessions Court in Thrissur.
The counselor for the petitioner submitted that the entire matter has been settled between the parties, stating that the first petitioner has married the victim, under the Special Marriage Act in December 2020, and now, they are living together as husband and wife and, that the victim does not intend to proceed with the case against the petitioner.
The issue raised before the Court was whether the FIR for an offense of rape could be quashed by exercising power under Section 482 of the Code of Criminal Procedure (CrPC), given the compromise between the parties.
The Court observed that the apex court, in a catena of decisions, has interpreted that the powers under Section 482 of CrPC are an exemption and not the rule, which should be used sparingly with great care and caution.
In the instant case, the Court observed that it was not the case of the petitioners that the offenses under Sections 376 (punishment for rape) and 366A of the IPC and the POCSO Act were not attracted concerning the alleged acts.
It is only based on an alleged settlement between the parties that the petitioners had sought to quash the criminal case, the Court observed.
The Court ruled that, in such a situation, a settlement of marriage entered between the parties does not revoke the accusations against the accused.
“When the nature of the crime is so grave and heinous as such to shock the sense of justice, adjustment between the parties and a marriage consequently between them are no matters that taken into account to quash the proceedings in a criminal case. The argument that now the victim has attained the age of majority and is living happily with petitioner as her wife, are not justifiable reasons for consideration to quash the criminal proceedings as sought for. Therefore, the compromise and settlement entered between the parties are not accepted to hold that the allegations do not make out a case against the petitioners,” stated Justice Shircy.
“Rape is a very serious offense and it is doubtless that it is not an offense of a person but is an offense against the whole society. It is worse than murder as it causes humiliating and horrifying experiences to the victim and it is the most heinous, brutal, and cruel crime in nature against a woman “, the Court said.
According to the data of 2006, published by the Times of India, in every 29 minutes, a rape case is registered. According to the crime statistics report, crime against women in Bengaluru is as high as in Delhi.
What do the aforesaid sections define?
Sec 366A– Procuration of girls
When a person induces a minor under 18 years of age, to go to any place or to do any act, with the intention that such minor may be forced or seduced to do illicit intercourse with another person. The section has been framed with an ambition of safeguarding the public interest in morality than the chasity of the particular woman.
Sec 376– Talks about the punishment for rape.
In India, women are not safe even during the Corona pandemic. They are sexually harassed by virtual mode and, there are so many cases that are pending in the respected courts.
POCSO ACT, 2012:– the purose of this act is to safeguard the children from sexual offences such as, penetrative sexual offences, sexual assault, sexual harrassment, and using a child for pornographic purposes.