The Madras High Court has given bail to a man convicted of raping a minor girl so that he can settle the case by “mediating” with the victim who gave birth to a child after the sexual assault.
The order was issued in response to an appeal and a bail plea from the convict, V Mohan, who was sentenced to seven years and slapped with a fine Rs 2 lakh by a Mahila Court in Cuddalore, Tamil Nadu, in 2002.
“In the facts and circumstances, the case before us is a fit case for attempting compromise between the parties. ‘Mediation’ mode is best suited to them…Keeping the appellant inside the jail and asking him to participate in the mediation talk will not result in any fruitful result,” said the judgment by Justice D Devadass.
“He should be enabled to participate in the deliberations as a free man and vent his feelings, open his mind and moorings. ‘Where there is a will, there is a way’,” it added.
Devadass referred to an earlier judgment by him in which he had ordered mediation and the accused agreed to marry the victim. He invoked different religions and said they showcase instances of solving issues in a non-aggressive manner.
“In fact, even in Islam, Hinduism and Christianity, there are instances of solving the disputes in a non-belligerent manner. The result of it is very good because there is ‘no victor, no vanquished’,” said the judgment.
Devadass further suggested that his order was in line with the Indian legal system’s move to adopt an “alternative dispute resolution” system as an alternative to the “time consuming, cumbersome, expensive conventional court system”.
The judgment directed the District Legal Services Authority in Tiruvallur and the Tamil Nadu State Legal Services Authority to help in the mediation. It stressed that the child born out of the rape was a victim of circumstances and had been made to bear the “brunt of social stigma”.
“The victim-girl has become mother of a child. But as on date, she is nobody’s wife. So she is an unwed mother. Now there is a big question mark looming large before the girl as well as her child, who is completely innocent,” the judge said.
“Generally, in this type of cases, the girl concerned is stated to be a victim, but really speaking the child born out of such a physical contact is also a victim. The child is a victim of circumstances. She was born to suffer a social stigma for no fault of her. It is a great tragedy.”
The judgment added: “Women are soft targets of male lust, they are considered as chattels, although in our country they are hailed as Sakthi, Mother, Sister, Nurse, Life Partner, Face Saver, All in one. And behind every man’s success, they are there. They do deserve dignity rather than indignation.”
The verdict has attracted flak on the social media.
One Twitter user with the handle @skepblunquill wrote: “Madras HC reportedly allowed rape case of a minor to be settled outside court. What is this? How can they take rape of a minor so lightly?”
Madras HC reportedly allowed rape case of a minor to be settled outside court. What is this? How can they take rape of a minor so lightly?— A.P.K. (@skepblunquill) June 24, 2015
Another user, @ChorariaSaurabh, wrote: “Madras HC trending for its dubious judgment. Mediation between the minor victim and rapist? It's not even dubious, it's unethical. #sad”
Madras HC trending for its dubious judgement. Mediation between the minor victim and rapist????? It's not even dubious, it's unethical. #sad— Saurabh Choraria (@ChorariaSaurabh) June 24, 2015