The Compromise in Illicit Intercourse

It was decided once by Gujarat HC, an unreportable Judgment is not ‘unreportable’ on a website. Nonetheless, there has been no report on Sajid v. State of Uttarakhand & Another, [Criminal Appeal No. 983 of 2018].

Appellant was convicted under Sections 363 and 366, IPC and was sentenced to undergo imprisonment for 7 years [CRLA/314/2004, High Court of Uttarakhand at Nainital].

Woman was kidnapped [abducted] / abducted [not kidnapped], perhaps ‘criminally intimidated’ / perhaps ‘abused by authority’, knowing she will be forced / seduced to engage in illicit intercourse. Appellant was undergoing his sentence when the Woman entered a compromise. It was submitted to Court that she is married, “living happily” and that she and her Husband have no complaint against Appellant. SC: “Sentence is limited to the period already undergone”. “Appellant shall pay a fine of Rupees Two Lakhs.”

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Former Justice Markandey Katju had once justified reducing sentence of imprisonment of 3 who gang-raped, on grounds : i) a compromise had been reached; ii) Victim was married and needed money for her Children; iii) imprisoning Accused further would serve no purpose; iv) Judgment [Baldev Singh v. State of Punjab, (2011) 13 SCC 705] was of a Lady Judge, Justice Gyan Sudha Mishra, too.

In Shimbhu v. State of Haryana, (2014) 13 SCC 318 Three Judges [CJI then, Former Justice Ranjana Prakash Desai, CJI next in Oct, 2018] were clear: “In the light of series of decisions, taking contrary view, we hold that the said decision in Baldev Singh cannot be cited as a precedent and it should be confined to that case.” In Shimbhu light, it appears just and noble that a married, settled life for a Victim cannot be construed as a special factor for reducing a sentence; a Court cannot always be assured that the Victim has genuinely compromised;  a compromise entered into cannot be a leading factor based on which lesser punishment can be awarded.

It is remarkable, Sajid v. State of Uttarakhand & Another, [Criminal Appeal No. 983 of 2018] is ‘unreported’ and Hon’ble Justice Kurian Joseph & Hon’ble Justice Sanjay Kishan Kaul have chosen silence.

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Courts while adjudicating cases involving gender related crimes, should not suggest or entertain any notions (or encourage any steps) towards compromises… as it is beyond their powers and jurisdiction.

Judges play – at all levels – a vital role as teachers and thought leaders. It is their role to be impartial in words and action, at all times. If they falter, especially in gender related crimes, they imperil fairness and inflict great cruelty in the casual blindness to the despair of the survivors.”

Hon’ble Justice S. Ravindra BhatAparna Bhat v. State of Madhya Pradesh, [Criminal Appeal No. 329 of 2021] decided on 18.03.2021.