The court described it as a spectacular error which is against the dignity of women
GN Bureau | July 1, 2015
Anguished civil society can breathe easy now. The supreme court has made strong comments and disapproved the judgement of the Madras high court judge, who had ordered mediation and settlement in rape case. The apex court called it against dignity of women.
Last week, Justice D Devadass, the judge at the Madras high court said a man who raped a teenager in 2002 when she was 15 could leave jail for a mediation session. The judge had said that in another case where he had made a similar intervention, "a happy conclusion" was reached with the rapist "agreeing" to marry his victim. Hence, the judge granted bail to a rapist so that he could meet his victim for a possible settlement.
The judge had said, the rape survivor, who became pregnant and delivered a baby daughter as a result of her attack, is "nobody's wife... an unwed mother", suggesting that her best option would be to reach a settlement with the man who assaulted her.
Read More: Rape crime is not negotiable, say lawyers on bail for TN rapist
The supreme court described it as "a spectacular error" which is "against the dignity of women."
The rape victim has told reporters that she has no interest in mediation. The accused, V Mohan, was convicted and sentenced to seven years and was slapped a fine Rs 2 lakh by a mahila court in Cuddalore in 2002 for raping the minor girl. He has not served his term. Two of his associates were charged with lesser offences. The victim is the mother of a child who was born after the rape.
The supreme court's comments on Wednesday came during the hearing of another rape case from Madhya Pradesh.
What judge Devadass said:
Granting interim bail to the convict so that he could take part in the mediation process, the court said: “…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’.”
Claiming that a similar case which he had referred for mediation was near a “happy conclusion,” (the accused had agreed to marry the victim), the judgment said: “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. He should be enabled to participate in the deliberations as a freeman and vent his feelings, open his mind and moorings. ‘Where there is a will, there is a way’.”
“Women are soft targets of male lust,” said the verdict, “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 everyman’s success, they are there. They do deserve dignity than indignation.”
Directing the District Legal Services Authority in Tiruvallur and Tamil Nadu State Legal Services Authority to mediate, the judgment said: “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. 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 accused was also told to deposit a fine of Rs 1 lakh as a fixed deposit in a local bank in the victim’s name.
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