BY- GAUTHAM RAJAN
The Supreme Court, in a recent case, held that Compromise between Rape Parties is of no Relevance. The bench of Justice Mohan M. Shantanagoudar and Justice Krishna Murari observed thus while disposing of a criminal appeal.
The aforementioned statement was made in a combined criminal appeal in the cases of Ramphal v. State of Haryana and Sanjay v. the State of Haryana. During the pendency of the appeal, it was found that the appellants had paid Rs. 1.5 lakh each in favour of the prosecutrix and the payment had been duly accepted. It was held by the Supreme Court that payment of such compensation for the offences of rape and sexual assault could not be accepted.
The court further directed the disbursement of the entire amount i.e. Rs. 3 lakhs under Section 357 of the Criminal Procedure Code. This compensation was recoverable notwithstanding the payment of Rs. 1.5 lakh each already made.
The appellants were sentenced to undergo actual imprisonment for six years. In default of payment of fine, the appellants shall undergo further actual imprisonment for two years.
QUESTION OF LAW:
The question of law that is to be answered in the present case shall be:
Whether compromise made between the accused and the victim be held as acceptable during the pendency of the suit.
To answer this question, it should be analysed both in favour of acceptance of compromise and against the acceptance of compromise.
The Supreme Court quashed a rape case on the ground of settlement between the accused and the victim in the interest of “doing complete justice to the parties concerned.” This can be quoted to support the hypothesis that compromise can be held as acceptable.
The Supreme Court, in the case of State of Madhya Pradesh v. Madan Lal, held that in a case of rape, the conception of compromise under no circumstances can be thought of. This can be quoted to support the hypothesis that compromise cannot be held as acceptable. It further held that “When a human frame is defiled, the purest treasure is lost. The dignity of a woman is considered to be the part of her non-perishable and immortal self and no one should ever think of painting it in clay”. There cannot be any compromise or settlement be arrived at between the parties as it would be considered against the honour of the victim. Also sometimes, solace is given that the accused of the crime is ready to enter into wedlock with the victim but this is nothing but putting pressure on the opposite party, and this Court said with emphasis that the Courts are to remain absolutely away from this manoeuvre to adopt a soft or a liberal approach to the case. Or putting it differently, it would be in the realm of a sanctuary of error. Such kind of attitude reflects a lack of sensibility towards the dignity of a woman. Any kind of liberal approach or thought of mediation in this regard is completely sans legal permissibility.
There are various cases, like the present case, that support the latter hypothesis. There is a majority opinion that Compromise between the Parties in a case of Rape cannot be held as acceptable.
Section 376 IPC does not deal with a compoundable offence and parties cannot withdraw or come to a compromise even with the permission of the Court. Most crimes, including rape, are crimes against the entire society. That is why the State prosecutes the crime, on behalf of the complainant and the society. If a compromise is valid, then a complainant can come under coercion by the accused of it.
The Supreme Court in Gian Singh v. the State of Punjab held that criminal proceedings cannot be quashed under Section 482 Code of Criminal Procedure based on an amicable settlement where the nature of the offence is heinous/serious. It was reasoned that rape is an offence against society, and therefore, cannot be condoned as a result of a compromise between the parties.
The above cases conveniently bring us to the conclusion that settlement/Compromise cannot be accepted between the Parties of Rape during the pendency of the suit.