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HindustanTimes Thu,18 Sep 2014

Priest faces kidnap charge for conducting forced marriage

Harish V Nair, Hindustan Times  New Delhi, January 23, 2012
First Published: 00:10 IST(23/1/2012) | Last Updated: 00:11 IST(23/1/2012)

Priests who perform rituals at weddings knowing fully well that it is a forced one beware.

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The Delhi high court has cleared the decks for the trial of a priest, who performed rituals at a ceremony where the girl was being forced to get married. He has been charged with kidnapping and compelling a woman to marry.

Justice Mukta Gupta ordered the trial of Pandit Sansar Pandey (name changed), dismissing his plea against framing of charges by a lower court for the offences.

"An omission is also an act, and in the present case the way the petitioner (the priest) co-operated in the offences committed by the co-accused clearly showed that he shared a common intention to commit the alleged offences," the judge said.

The trial court had framed the charges during adjudication of a criminal case against one Raju, accused of marrying the girl at knife point, in a temple in Sarswati Vihar in north-west Delhi.

The trial court had summoned the priest as an accused and framed charges against him even though the woman had made no allegations against him.

The court, however, roped him in as an accused after the woman said the priest continued performing the rituals despite Raju forcing her to marry him at knifepoint, after taking her to the temple on a flimsy pretext on December 18, 2004.

The judge said performing marriage ceremony while the woman was being threatened amounted to his complicity. It cannot be said that the priest did not share the common intention or "did not commit any overt act. The overt act on the part of the petitioner is performing the marriage, when the woman was threatened to marry,” justice Gupta said.


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