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Molester let off for ‘peace’

New Delhi, Jan. 1: The Supreme Court has acquitted a man convicted of outraging the modesty of his neighbour’s daughter, accepting the “compromise” the victim and the accused reached to bury a 14-year-old “bitterness” so that their village could live in peace.

Justices H.L. Dattu and C.K. Prasad agreed to acquit Surat Singh after they heard out the counsel for both parties.

“We have heard (the) learned counsel for the parties and, in particular, the learned counsel appearing for respondent No. 2 (the victim). He submits that he has compromised… with the appellant at her (the victim’s) own will. In view of the above, while disposing of this appeal, we accord permission to compound the offences and the effect of this would be the acquittal of the accused with the offences he is charged with,” the court said.

Singh, a resident of the hilly Tehri-Garhwal region of Uttarakhand, was accused of outraging the victim’s modesty in 1998. An FIR was filed against him and a case was registered under IPC Sections 323 (causing hurt), 354 (outraging modesty) and 506 (criminal intimidation).

On April 7, 2003, the chief judicial magistrate of Tehri-Garhwal convicted him under Sections 354 and 506 and sentenced him to rigorous imprisonment for a year.

A sessions court confirmed the sentence in September 2003. On March 23, 2012, Uttarakhand High Court dismissed his appeal. Singh then moved the apex court.

While his appeal was pending in the apex court, the victim and the convict reached the compromise.

In the affidavit filed for the compromise, the victim said Singh was her “neighbour” and his house was “just adjacent” to her house.

“Earlier, there was old enmity of … Surat Singh with my father Shri Dhir Singh. The incident in relation to which I lodged (the) FIR against… Surat Singh is of the year 1998 and is quite old and continuation of (the) dispute on the basis of (the) said old incident will only increase bitterness in my life. Hence myself and my family has decided to resolve all our dispute with… Surat Singh… so that no bitterness can be left in the environment of our village and we can set an example to live in peace and harmony by resolving all our disputes,” she said.

“…I have entered into (a) compromise with… Surat Singh and resolved all my disputes with him in a harmonious manner…” she added.