New Delhi, Aug. 22: The Supreme Court yesterday rejected a gang-rape victim’s plea to pardon the two men who had assaulted her as a teenager, saying it wouldn’t brook any compromise given the rise in such incidents across the country.
“We just cannot close our eyes to what is happening in this country. Every day you see so many incidents (of rape). It does not mean that since the victim has pardoned them and entered into a compromise, we can also reduce the punishment. The statute does not permit the court to do it and we do not want to do it,” a bench of Chief Justice P. Sathasivam and Justices Ranjana Prakash Desai and Ranjan Gogoi observed.
Haryana residents Shimbu and Balu Ram were sentenced to 10 years by a sessions court over the incident that occurred in 1995. The high court affirmed the order in 2011. With the pardon move spiked, their appeal will now be in the apex court based on its merits.
The woman, 16 when she was raped and now in her 30s, said in her plea that she had married another person, was happily living with him along with their four children and didn’t want to pursue the case further to avoid hindrance in her “peaceful married life”.
She pleaded that the sentence be reduced to the period already undergone.
The counsel for the convicts, Rishi Malhotra, urged the bench to order the release of the duo given that the victim herself had sought compromise and wanted to bury the case.
The court turned down the argument. “If we start entertaining such pleas, then in every case the accused may compel the victims to enter into a compromise. It will create more problems. Anyway, we will pass certain positive directions for all courts in the country,” Justice Sathasivam, heading the bench, observed.
The view was supported by the Haryana government counsel, Brijender Chahar, who warned against any leniency to the convicts saying doing so would open a Pandora’s box and prompt other rape accused to seek such relief.
According to the prosecution, the victim was gang-raped by the duo repeatedly on December 28 and 29, 1995, in Haryana’s Narnaul. They live in the same village.
Although the accused claimed that they were falsely implicated as the victim had consensual sex with them, the sessions court convicted the duo in 1998 for kidnapping and gang rape, followed by Punjab and Haryana High Court three years later. The victim filed the pardon plea while their appeal was pending in the Supreme Court.
During yesterday’s hearing, the convicts’ counsel cited the earlier claims of defence lawyers that the incident was part of a consensual affair.
The duo have also claimed earlier that a lady doctor had given a report saying she had found no external injuries on the victim.