Ranjeet Kumar V State of H.P & Ors

According to the recent judgment of the Himachal Pradesh high court in the case of “Ranjeet Kumar vs State of Haryana & Ors”. A child sexual abuse case under the POCSO Act can be dismissed on the ground that the victim and accused consented to it in order to maintain the happy marriage of the married couple.

Justices Tarlok Singh Chouhan and Satyen Vaidya were of the view that continuing prosecution in such cases would only cause chaos in the couple’s family life.

The court held that the ends of justice require that the parties be allowed to compromise.

However, the Bench also cautioned that courts in such cases must ensure that the marriage is not just a camouflage to escape punishment and the consent given by the victim for compromise is voluntary.

“The Court to bear in mind that every case is unique and must, therefore, essentially be decided based on its peculiar facts and circumstances. The viability of quashing criminal proceedings on the ground that the accused and the victim had settled the disputes revolves ultimately around the facts and circumstances of each case, therefore, no straight jacket formula can be evolved,” the judgment stated.

It also emphasized that sexual offences which are grave, heinous and gruesome in nature can never be a subject matter of compromise.

The Division Bench was answering a reference made by a single-judge last month as to whether POCSO Act cases can be quashed if the accused marries the victim.

Rejecting a compromise arrived between the parties in one such case, Justice Virendra Singh had held that the acceptance of such a settlement would encourage criminals involved in heinous offences to indulge in such acts and then enter into a compromise with the child victim.

However, the Division Bench set aside Justice Singh’s view, as it concluded that compounding of the offence in such cases would enable both the parties to lead a life of respect and dignity in the society.

Once, there is no dispute between them, then obviously the law cannot be so harsh so as to stand as wall between the parties, because the law has to secure the future of the parties, and continuation of criminal proceedings in such circumstances, would only cause an irreparable harassment and hardship and may even tarnish and spoil the reputation of the victim,” it opined.

The Court also observed that the proceedings cannot be permitted to degenerate into a weapon of “harassment and persecution” as the power to do complete justice is the very essence of the justice dispensation system.

“It cannot be diluted by distorted perceptions and is not a slave to anything, except to the caution and circumspection, the standards of which the Court sets before it, in exercise of such plenary and unfettered power inherently vested in it while donning the cloak of compassion to achieve the ends of justice.”

In the instant case, the Bench said it cannot be ignored that the prosecution was set in motion only because the victim happens to be a child.

Otherwise, she was in love with the accused who also was interested to solemnise marriage with her, the Court noted. The marriage took place in March this year and a month later, they compromised the criminal case.

Looking at material placed before it, the Court said it was satisfied that the child victim and her family members have settled the dispute and the victim is now leading a “happy and a peaceful married life”.

The Court was also satisfied that the compromise was not a camouflage to escape punishment. 

Written by Adv Rohit Yadav

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