‘Tragic to note practicing advocates trivialising offence of rape’: Del HC reiterates SC’s stand on whether power under S. 482 CrPC be exercised for quashing offence of rape when parties compromise

Delhi High Court: Subramonium Prasad, J., observed that,

Rape is not merely a physical assault; it is often destructive of the whole personality of the victim. The act of rape has the ability to scar the mental psyche of the victim and the trauma can persist for years.

Instant petition was filed under Section 482 of the Criminal Procedure Code for quashing the FIR registered for offences under Section 376 of Penal Code, 1860 on the ground that petitioners and respondent 2 have entered into a compromise.

Petitioner’s counsel submitted that the instant FIR was a counterblast against the husband of respondent 2.

High Court on perusal of the facts and circumstances of the case stated that the parties registered cross-cases against each other for offences under Section 376 IPC.

It is tragic to note that practising advocates belonging to the legal fraternity are trivialising the offence of rape.

 In the Supreme Court decision of Shyam Narain v. State (NCT of Delhi), (2013) 7 SCC 77, it was observed that,

“27. Respect for reputation of women in the society shows the basic civility of a civilised society. No member of society can afford to conceive the idea that he can create a hollow in the honour of a woman. Such thinking is not only lamentable but also deplorable. It would not be an exaggeration to say that the thought of sullying the physical frame of a woman is the demolition of the accepted civilised norm i.e. ‘physical morality’. In such a sphere, impetuosity has no room. The youthful excitement has no place. It should be paramount in everyone’s mind that, on the one hand, society as a whole cannot preach from the pulpit about social, economic and political equality of the sexes and, on the other, some perverted members of the same society dehumanise the woman by attacking her body and ruining her chastity. It is an assault on the individuality and inherent dignity of a woman with the mindset that she should be elegantly servile to men.”

Hence, the Courts shoulder a great responsibility while trying an accused on charges of rape. The matter is of grave concern that people are treating the said allegation in a very casual manner.

Whether the High Courts, while exercising its jurisdiction under Section 482 CrPC, should quash an offence under Section 376 IPC?

Bench stated that rape is an offence against society. The Supreme Court has time and again directed the High Court to not exercise its jurisdiction under Section 482 CrPC to quash an offence of rape in light of parties entering into a compromise.

Court referred plethora of cases and held that quashing FIR for offences like rape on the basis of compromise will encourage accused to put pressure on the victims to agree to a compromise and that would open doors for the accused to get away with a heinous crime which could not be permitted.

Allegations regarding offences such as one under Section 376 IPC cannot be made at the drop of a hat – in order to settle personal scores.

People who make such false allegations of rape cannot be permitted to go scot-free.

High Court expressed that it is pained to note that there is an alarming increase of false cases of rape and offences under Section 354, 354A, 354B, 354C & 354D only to arm-twist the accused and make them succumb to the demands of the complainant.

False claims and allegations pertaining to cases of molestation and rape need to be dealt with an iron hand due to the serious nature of the offences.

Such litigations are instituted by the unscrupulous litigants in the hope that other party will capitulate to their demands out of fear or shame.

Lastly, the Court held that Courts have to ensure that there is no incentive or motive for frivolous litigations which unnecessarily consumes the Court’s otherwise scarce time.

In view of the mandate of the Supreme Court that High Courts must not exercise its powers under Section 482 CrPC for quashing an offence of rape only on the ground that the parties have entered into a compromise, this Court was not inclined to entertain this petition.[Vimlesh Agnihotri v. State, 2021 SCC OnLine Del 4024, decided on 16-08-2021]

Advocates before the Court:

For the Petitioners: Sonu Kumar, Advocate

For the Respondents: Kusum Dhalla, APP for the State

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