Bhubaneswar, March 8: A courtroom in Bolangir turned into an impromptu wedding hall as a woman tied the knot with the man who allegedly raped her four years ago.
The guests at Saturday's wedding were the judge of the civil court, police officers, lawyers and relatives of the couple.
The couple will have to wait a while before it can lead a married life as the groom has yet to be released from jail.
The accused, 27-year-old Krushna Sahu of Darlipali village under Loisingha police station, allegedly raped the 22-year-old woman, his neighbour, four years ago.
The girl's family, however, did not lodge an FIR for fear of social stigma. They wanted Sahu to marry the victim but his family rejected the proposal. Sahu then left for Madhya Pradesh, where he landed a job.
The victim's family later petitioned the court of first-class judicial magistrate in Loisingha, which ordered the police to lodge a case under Section 376 of the Indian Penal Code and arrest Sahu.
The accused was arrested last month while he was on his way home. The court rejected Sahu's bail plea and sent him to judicial custody.
A lawyer and a member of the local legal aid cell attempted to settle the matter out of court by arranging a meeting between the two families, following which it was decided that the couple should tie the knot, said Bolangir superintendent of police Pratik Mohanty.
The marriage was initially scheduled to take place in the prison where Sahu is lodged but the venue was later shifted to the courtroom.
The victim's family has withdrawn the petition against Sahu and a decision on this will be taken next week, the SP added.
The Bolangir incident seems a rerun of a similar case in Jharsuguda sub-jail in August last year. A rape accused had married the victim in the presence of the inspector-general (prisons), parents, lawyers and jail officials on that occasion.
Women's rights activists in the state have condemned the marriage, arguing that such a move will grant sanction to rape and make it look like less of a crime.