Ker HC | Can the fact that minor rape victim attained majority and married the rapist lead to quashment of criminal proceedings? HC answers

Kerala High Court: Shircy V., J., held that argument that now the victim of rape had attained majority and was living happily with the accused are not valid grounds or justifiable reasons for quashing the criminal proceedings. The Bench remarked,

“When it (rape) is towards a child the gravity is all the more severe and excruciating as it may even low self-esteem, self confidence and dignity of the child and that the psychic effect and impact would cause a devastating effect on the minor and result in far-reaching consequences.”

The petitioners, accused for the offences punishable under Sections 366A, 376 and 34 of Penal Code, 1860 and Section 4 read with Section 3, Section 6 read with Section 5 and Section 17 read with Section 16 of the Protection of Children from Sexual Offences Act, 2002 (POCSO), had approached the Court for seeking quashment of FIR and other related proceedings.

The case against the petitioners was that they had procured the victim, who was aged only 17 years, from her lawful custody and took her forcibly to the rental house where accused 1 committed rape on her. The petitioners contended that the entire matter had been amicably settled between the parties and the victim did not intend to proceed with the case since they were living together as husband and wife.

Whether criminal proceedings could be quashed in a rape case in view of the compromise arrived at between the parties?

The inherent power given to the High Court under Section 482 CrPC is with the purpose to prevent abuse of process of the court and with the object of advancement of justice which is an exception and not the rule which should be used sparingly with great caution and circumspection.

Reliance was placed by the Court on Gian Singh v. State of Punjab, (2012) 10 SCC 303, wherein the Supreme Court had answered the similar issues stating that, “inherent power is of wide plenitude with no statutory limitation but it has to be exercised in accord with the guideline engrafted in such power viz:

  • to secure the ends of justice, or
  • (ii) to prevent abuse of the process of any court…”

The Delhi High Court held that, “Heinous and serious offences of mental depravity or offences like murder, rape, dacoity etc. cannot be fittingly quashed even though the victim or victim’s family and the offender have settled the dispute. Such offences are not private in nature and have a serious impact on society. Similarly, any compromise between the victim and the offender in relation to the offences under special statutes like the Prevention of Corruption Act or the offences committed by public servants while working in that capacity, etc.; cannot provide for any basis for quashing criminal proceedings involving such offences.”

Terming the offence of rape worse than murder as humiliating and horrifying experience are caused to the victim, the Bench stated when the crime of rape is towards a child the gravity is all the more severe and excruciating as it may even low self-esteem, self confidence and dignity of the child and that the psychic effect and impact would cause a devastating effect on the minor and result in far-reaching consequences. Accordingly, the Bench stated,

“When the magnitude of the crime is so grave and heinous as such to shock the sense of justice, settlement between the parties and a marriage subsequently between them are not matters for consideration to quash the proceedings in a criminal case.”

Hence, it was held that as 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, the argument that, now the victim had attained majority and was living happily with petitioner 1 were not valid grounds or justifiable reasons for consideration to quash the criminal proceedings.

Therefore, the compromise and settlement entered between the parties was rejected and the petitioners were directed to stand the test of judicial scrutiny and face the Trial. [Rahul P.R. v. State of Kerala, 2021 SCC OnLine Ker 3348, decided on 26-08-2021]


Kamini Sharma, Editorial Assistant has reported this brief.


Appearance by:

For the Petitioners: Advocate C.A.Chacko, Advocate C.M.Charisma and Advocate Alekh Thomas

For the State of Kerala: P.P. Ajith Murali

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