In a significant verdict, Supreme Court on Tuesday ruled that punishment to a rape convict cannot be reduced or condoned even if the victim forgave the accused and entered into a compromise with him.
“Rape is a non-compoundable offence and it is an offence against the society and is not a matter to be left for the parties to compromise and settle. Since the Court cannot always be assured that the consent given by the victim in compromising the case is a genuine consent, there is every chance that she might have been pressurised by the convicts or the trauma undergone by her all the years might have compelled her to opt for a compromise,” said a bench headed by Chief Justice of India P Sathasivam.
The bench dismissed the plea of gangrape convicts to reduce punishment on the ground the victim in the 16-year-old rape case had entered into a compromise. The convicts had filed the victim’s affidavit before the SC.
Such compromises, if reached, are per se illegal and the provision for lesser punishment for heinous offences in exceptional cases cannot be treated in a casual or a cavalier manner by the trial court, it said.
The bench expressed serious concern that there has been an increasing tendency amongst trial courts to permit compromises on the ground that a settlement has been reached between the rapist and the victim.
The case dealt by SC related to an appeal against the 2011 Punjab and Haryana High Court verdict upholding a trial court order convicting and sentencing the gangrape convicts to 10 years.
The appellants sought their release on the ground the victim had no objection if the sentence to the petitioners was reduced to the period which they have already spent in jail for the offence. According to them the girl compromised on the ground she was married and had children.