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The argument that the rape victim had reached majority and was happily cohabitating with the accused is not a viable premise or justification for dismissing the criminal proceedings: Kerala High Court

The argument that the rape victim had reached majority and was happily cohabitating with the accused is not a viable premise or justification for dismissing the criminal proceedings is upheld by the Kerala High Court in the case of Rahul P.R. v. State of Kerala (Crl.MC No. 5890 of 2020) though Justice Shircy V.

FACTS OF THE CASE

The petitioners, who were charged with crimes punishable by Sections 366A, 376, and 34 of the Penal Code of 1860, as well as Sections 4 and 6 of the Protection of Children from Sexual Offenses Act of 2002 (POCSO) and Section 17 and Section 16 of that Act, had petitioned the court to have the FIR and other related proceedings quashed.

The petitioners were accused of removing the victim, who was just 17 years old, from her legal care and bringing her forcibly to the rental home where accused 1 raped her. The victims did not want to pursue the case because they were living together as husband and wife, according to the petitioners, who claimed that the entire situation had been amicably resolved between the parties.

JUDGMENT

The inherent authority granted to the High Court under Section 482 CrPC is intended to avoid abuse of the judicial process and to advance justice, which is an exception rather than the rule and should only be used in very limited circumstances and with extreme caution. The Supreme Court’s responded to a similar question in Gian Singh v. State of Punjab, (2012) , that inherent power is of wide plenitude with no statutory limitation but it needs to be exerted in accordance with the guideline engrafted in such power, that is, either to avoid abuse of any court’s process or to further the interests of justice.

The Court stated that the crime of rape is more grave and agonising when it is committed against a child because it may even cause the child to have low self-esteem, self-confidence, and dignity. The Court also stated that the psychological effects and impact would have a devastating effect on the child and result in far-reaching consequences. In light of this, the Court said that settlement between the parties and a subsequent marriage between them are not matters for consideration to dismiss the proceedings in a criminal case. The scale of the offence is so great and vile as such to shock the sense of justice.

Therefore, it was determined that the argument that the victim had now reached majority and was living happily with petitioner 1 was not a valid ground or justifiable reasons for consideration to quash the criminal proceedings because the victim was a minor and the provisions of the special Act enacted to protect and save minor children from sexual offences and harassment were also involved.

As a result, the parties’ agreement to compromise and settle was rejected, and the petitioners were told to withstand judicial scrutiny and participate in the trial.

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JUDGEMENT REVIEWED BY NISHTHA GARHWAL

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