The chief of Tamil Nadu’s women’s commission has endorsed a widely criticised order of the Madras high court granting bail to a convicted rapist so that he can settle the case by “mediating” with the victim who gave birth to a child after the sexual assault.
"Mediation is the only solution and if they (the rapist and the victim) can join together, this commission will be very happy to see that both the criminal and the girl…get along together peacefully. That is our aim and objective," said Visalakshi Nedunchezian, chairperson of the women's commission.
Backing the court’s ruling, Nedunchezian said, "There is no question of right or wrong in this case. If the girl has no source of income or livelihood she may adjust and live with him. Toleration is the main point here."
The high court had recently issued its order in response to an appeal from the convict, V Mohan, who was given a seven-year prison term and slapped with a fine Rs 2 lakh by a Mahila Court in Cuddalore in 2002 for raping the 15-year-old orphan. The girl became pregnant and is now the mother of a six-year-old daughter.
Madras HC gives bail to rape convict to 'mediate' with victim
Mohan was given interim bail by Justice P Devadass, who said: “…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.”
The judge added: “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 ...It's a fit case for attempting compromise.”
Devadass’ decision to release the rape convict and to refer the case for mediation to explore the possibility of a marriage between the rapist and the victim created a furore, with legal experts describing it as “illegal and unethical”.
Former Delhi high court judge SN Dhingra said the order went beyond the high court’s inherent powers and is thus illegal.
Activists have written to the chief justice of Madras high court, saying such mediation in a rape case is unacceptable. The victim has said the ruling does not give her confidence about Mohan’s intentions and that a portion of his property should be provided to her daughter in case Mohan decides to abandon her.
Nedunchezian contended that the rapist could not “escape” his responsibilities in view of the high court’s judgement. “So I think there is some guarantee here,” she said.