The Supreme Court on Tuesday let off three men convicted for gangrape after they agreed to a “compromise formula” with the victim, according to which they would pay her a fine of Rs. 50,000 each.
A bench comprising Justice Markandeya Katju and Justice Gyan Sudha Mishra upheld the conviction of the accused but did not order their imprisonment. It let them off after observing that they had spent three-and-a-half of the 10 years they were ordered to remain in prison.
The rapists had appealed against their conviction, saying they and the victim were happily married to their respective spouses and “wanted to live peacefully”. They had challenged the Punjab and Haryana High Court verdict upholding their conviction and punishment.
Reacting against the order, senior counsel Kamini Jaiswal said: “Nobody can buy a woman's dignity. I am appalled by an order given by the Supreme Court — that too by a lady judge.”
Senior advocate Pinky Anand expressed shock. “Criminal law does not permit compromises. Compensation is an addition to the punishment. It is not an alternative,” she said.
Under provisions of the Indian Penal Code, gangrape mandates a minimum sentence of 10 years in jail and a maximum of life imprisonment.