Ker HC | Proceedings in a rape case can be quashed when accused settles dispute with victim and marries her, so as to ensure better future for the victim

Kerala High Court: Alexander Thomas, J. allowed a writ petition for quashing the criminal proceedings against rape accused who later on married the victim.

In the instant case, the petitioner (‘accused’ before the trial court) was alleged to have committed offences punishable under Section 366A, 376 of the Penal Code, 1860 and Section 3(a) read with Section 4 of the POCSO Act, 2012.

The counsels for the petitioner, C.S. Manu and S.K. Premraj, contended before the High Court that the petitioner had settled the disputes amicably with the respondent (‘victim’ before the trial court) by solemnizing marriage with her as per the provisions of the Special Marriage Act, 1954 and they had a daughter aged four months out of the wedlock. The petitioner also produced a Marriage Certificate issued by the statutory Marriage Officer.

Anoop Joseph, counsel appearing for the respondent also pointed out that, since the respondent had already married the petitioner, it would be in her interest that the impugned criminal proceedings be quashed; otherwise her marital life would be put into jeopardy, and there would be no one to take care of her as well as her young child hardly aged 4 months.

The Court observed that, though the grave and serious offences as the one under Section 376 of the Penal Code could not be the subject matter for quashing on the ground of settlement between the accused and the victim; but relying on its judgment in Freddy @ Antony Francis v. State of Kerala, 2018 (1) KLD 558, it held that “the exception to the above approach could be in cases where the accused has married the defacto complainant and they have decided to settle all the disputes and for the predominant purpose of the welfare of the de-facto complainant/ victim, to ensure her better future life, it is only just and proper that this Court in exercise of the extra ordinary inherent powers under Section 482 of the CrPC could quash the impugned criminal proceedings on the ground of settlement between the parties in cases where the accused has married the defacto complainant and the de-facto complainant is insisting for quashing of the impugned criminal proceedings, etc.”

In the light of the above, more particularly in the light of the submission made by the respondent, the Court allowed the plea for quashing of impugned criminal proceedings.[Ashiq N.A. v. State of Kerala, 2019 SCC OnLine Ker 1731, decided on 23-05-2019]

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