Compromise with rape victim no ground for reducing penalty says SC

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The Supreme Court of India ruled that the sentence awarded to the perpetrators of rape cannot be lowered even if a compromise is reached between the convict and the victim.

The apex court also made it clear that even a proposal to marry the victim would not suffice for the convict to get a penalty lesser than what was prescribed as the minimum punishment in sexual assault crimes – especially in gangrape cases.

The judgment was delivered by a bench led by Chief Justice of India P. Sathasivam. The CJI criticized courts for their soft approach in awarding sentence in rape cases. He said that it was a need of the hour to show some sensitivity and ensure that proportionate punishment is imposed.

The apex court also stated that race, religion, case, social status, and economic condition of both the victim and the perpetrator cannot be construed as special factors, and neither can be other aspects such as long pendency of criminal trial and proposal by the rapist to marry the victim.

The bench cautioned all subordinate courts saying that it was not safe to lower the sentence awarded to a rape convict in exercise of their discretionary powers under the Indian Penal Code merely because the victim agreed to settle the matter.

The Supreme Court dismissed an appeal filed by two persons in Haryana who received a sentence of 10-years imprisonment in gangrape case registered against them two decades back in 1995. The convicts, however, pointed out that the victim had filed an affidavit in 2011 stating that she did not want to pursue the case any further and subsequently had reached a settlement with them.

However, the state counsel countered their plea saying that the Criminal Law (Amendment) Act,2013, that came into effect in February, left no room for any such exemption for convicts of heinous crimes like rape.

 

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