‘Peculiar facts’: SC orders release of TN man sentenced to 20 yrs under Pocso | Latest News India - Hindustan Times
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‘Peculiar facts’: SC orders release of TN man sentenced to 20 yrs under Pocso

ByAbraham Thomas
Feb 05, 2024 10:31 PM IST

The bench, headed by Chief Justice of India DY Chandrachud, said it was invoking its powers under Article 142 given the peculiar circumstances of the case

NEW DELHI: The Supreme Court on Monday ordered the release of a man sentenced to 20 years in jail for the rape of a minor girl in 2014 who he married, invoking its powers under Article 142 of the Constitution that gives the top court to take any decision to do complete justice.

The Supreme Court has also waived the <span class='webrupee'>₹</span>2 lakh fine imposed on the convict by the trial court (Sonu Mehta/HT File Photo)
The Supreme Court has also waived the 2 lakh fine imposed on the convict by the trial court (Sonu Mehta/HT File Photo)

The bench, headed by Chief Justice of India DY Chandrachud, said it was invoking its powers under Article 142 given the peculiar circumstances of the case despite having twice upheld the conviction and sentence of the convict.

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The bench, also comprising justices Sanjiv Khanna and BR Gavai, also ordered the convict to be released on sentence already undergone and waived the 2 lakh fine imposed on him by the trial court.

Sankar relied on a decision passed by the Supreme Court in 2022 in K Dhandapani v State where the facts were similar and the top court had set aside the conviction to enable the accused and the victim to reside together. He argued that his incarceration had shattered his marital life, leaving his wife and their children destitute.

The top court said, “This seems to be the best way out. Do we have to enter into the legal nuances in this case? It is better if we leave it to be decided in another case... We also see the pitfalls but the question we ask is, who will suffer?”

Senior advocate Siddharth Luthra, appearing for the Tamil Nadu government, pointed out that an exception cannot be made in this case as the convict not only committed sexual assault on a minor but has exploited her innocence by marrying her. Besides, the rapist was already married and had children from his first wife, Luthra said, underlining that the marriage with the victim was not proved and “this issue has to be dealt with in a nuanced fashion.”

The court, however, noted that there was no complaint of bigamy as required under the law.

The court also noted that there were questions about the victim’s age.

Though the birth certificate produced by the victim showed her age to be 14 years on the date of the incident, her medical examination by a radiologist estimated her age to be 18-19 years.

During the trial, the victim said that her date of birth was March 16, 1995. According to this, she was 19 years old when the incident took place in 2014. Even her mother said she was 19 when she first complained about sexual assault by the convict.

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