oppn parties SC Says No to Compromise in Rape Cases

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Sunni Wakf Board and Nirvani Akhara write to the Supreme Court for a negotiated settlement to the Ayodhya dispute
oppn parties
SC Says No to Compromise in Rape Cases

By Sunil Garodia

About the Author

Sunil Garodia Editor-in-Chief of indiacommentary.com. Current Affairs analyst and political commentator. Writes for a number of publications.
The Supreme Court has ordered that a rapist cannot be allowed to escape punishment even if he reaches a compromise with the person, or the family of the person, he raped. This is the right line of thinking in such cases, as the court itself pointed out that reaching a compromise was nothing but “putting pressure in an adroit manner.”

If one goes by purely by law, the manner in which several high courts across the country were showing leniency to the rapists was blatantly illegal. For, the rape law is clear â€" the rapist needs to be punished if the guilt is proven. There is no law in India which says that a rapist can be let off, or given a lesser sentence, if the raped person or his/her family thinks so. The raped person, or his/her family, does not have the authority, legal or otherwise, to pardon the rapist. It was surprising how the Madhya Pradesh high court in the instant case and the Madras high court a few weeks earlier, had taken cognizance of a compromise reached between the parties to show leniency towards the rapists.

In the case Shimbu and Anr v Haryana, the apex court had most emphatically observed that “rape is a non-compoundable offence and it is an offence against society and is not a matter to be left for the parties to compromise and settle ….a compromise entered into between the parties cannot be construed as a leading factor based on which lesser punishment can be awarded.” Despite this, the Madras high court had granted bail to a rape accused to allow him to meet the survivor and explore the possibility of a compromise. What if the rapist had gone ahead and committed another rape? Or worse still, murdered the survivor and absconded? The Madras high court order was illegal and against the society.

In the instant case, the Madhya Pradesh high court made an equally disconcerting order. It freed a rapist after he reached a settlement with the parents of the minor girl he had raped. The court did not consider the trauma the minor must have suffered. The court also did not consider the fact that if the family was poor, the rapist could have reached a compromise by offering them money. In any case, how does a compromise negate or lessen the original crime? The Supreme Court cancelled the MP HC order and asked that the convict be taken back into custody and the case be tried afresh.

It is surprising that high courts continue to overlook the directives of the apex court. Where the law is clear and where clear SC guidelines exist, any deviation should be made a ground for the removal of the erring judge or judges. Only then will the lower courts refrain from passing headline making orders which are illegal, to say the least. Society will not benefit by showing leniency to rapists. The intention of the rapist was not to marry the survivor when he was raping her. It was only when he was faced with getting punished for the act that he thought of a compromise. Society will benefit only when rapists are punished for their crime. The high courts, by passing such lenient orders, will only encourage future rapists to immediately start settlement proceedings with the survivor, negating the crime. In effect, it will also reduce the law to a farce.