Sexual offences against a child: Parents can’t strike a compromise, rules HC
The victim child and her parents can’t strike a compromise in the cases of sexual offence against the minor, the Punjab and Haryana high court has ruled.
“The compromise effected by the child and/or her parents, compromising the dignity of the child, cannot be raised to a status where it defeats the very object of the Act. Power granted under CrPC Section 482 (powers of high court to quash an FIR) cannot be exercised to defeat the purpose of an enactment enacted in discharge of constitutional mandate as well as obligation arising out of international conventions,” the bench of Justice Pankaj Jain held.
The court was hearing the plea from a Sirsa man booked in January 2019 under sections 452 and 506 of the Indian Penal Code, Section 3 of the Scheduled Caste and Scheduled Tribe (Prevention of Atrocities) Act, and Section 8 of the Protection of Children from Sexual Offences (Pocso) Act at the women police station in Dabwali. Based on a compromise between the victim family and the accused in January 2021, the latter had approached the high court seeking quashing of the FIR.
The court observed that statement of objects and reasons of the Act recognises duty cast upon the state to direct its policy towards securing that the children of tender age are not abused and their childhood and youth are protected against exploitation and they are given facilities to develop in a healthy manner and in conditions of freedom and dignity as directed by Article 39.
The statement further declares the enforcement of right of all children to security, safety and protection from sexual abuse and exploitation as an object of the Act. The Act is to protect children from offences of sexual assault, sexual harassment and pornography, it asserted, adding that the 2012 law is said to have been enacted with reference to Article 15 (3) of the Constitution of India. The Preamble of the Act further declares sexual exploitation and sexual abuse of children as a heinous crime which needs to be effectively addressed, it further said.
The bench said that in the case of child, the compromise effected between the parents cannot be recognised. Any agreement/compromise executed by the child (till the age of majority) himself/herself as in the present case will be void ab initio and thus cannot be accorded validity.
“Parents cannot be allowed to compromise the dignity of a child by an agreement. Wherever and whenever in a society governed by rule of law the question will arise: Who will protect from the protector? The only and obvious answer will be law,” the bench asserted, further declaring that the FIR cannot be quashed on the basis of compromise and directed the trial court to expedite the trial and conclude the same, preferably within a period of six months.
Devi Sirohi, academician and former head of the Chandigarh Commission for Protection of Child Rights said, “Compromises in such cases have no place. If it is allowed, it would go against the spirit of law and result in abuse of children. There is a legal recourse to the offence and the same should be allowed. If a compromise is recognised in such cases by courts, it would set a bad precedent.”
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