The Delhi High Court has observed that quashing First Information Report (FIR) for offences like rape on the basis of compromise would encourage the accused to pressure the victims to agree to a compromise and open doors for the accused to get away with a heinous crime [Vimlesh Aghnihotri v. State].
Justice Subramonium Prasad also noted that that there was an alarming increase in false cases of rape filed only to arm-twist the accused and make them succumb to the demands of complainant.
“Therefore, people who make such false allegations of rape cannot be permitted to go scot-free. This Court is pained to note that there is an alarming increase of false cases of rape and offences under Section 354, 354A, 354B, 354C and 354D only to arm-twist the accused and make them succumb to the demands of the complainant,” the order highlighted.
The Court was acting on a petition seeking quashing of FIR registered under Section 376 (rape) on the ground that the parties had reached a compromise.
In its judgment, the Court referred to a number of Supreme Court verdicts and observed that while there were repercussions of the offence of rape on the victim, false allegations of rape had the potential to destroy the life and career of the accused.
“Quashing FIR for offences like rape on the basis of compromise will encourage accused to put pressure on the victims to agree to a compromise and this will open doors for the accused to get away with a heinous crime which cannot be permitted. In the present case it appears that both sides have resorted to file complaints of rape without having any sensitivity to the offence of rape,” the order highlighted.
The Court further underscored that valuable judicial time was spent in hearing cases where false allegations are made and consequently was an abuse of the process of law.
In the present case, the High Court dismissed the plea remarking that it would encourage accused to pressurise victims to agree for a compromise and open doors for accused to get away.
The Court also noted that when a person is accused of a false rape case, he loses honour and is unable to face family besides being stigmatised for life.
“Allegations regarding offences such as one under Section 376 IPC cannot be made at the drop of a hat in order to settle personal scores,” the Court declared.
The time spent by the police investigating false rape cases also hinder them from investigating other cases of serious offences and consequently, faulty investigations lead to the accused going scot-free.
Although the Court did not comment on whether or not the present case was false, it said that if the cases filed by the parties against each other are found to be false and frivolous, then action should be taken against the prosecutrix and others, who level allegations of rape only to settle personal scores.
Stressing on the need to deal with false allegations in cases of molestation and rape with an “iron hand” due to the serious nature of the offences, the Court observed that such litigations were instituted by the unscrupulous litigants in the hope that the other party will capitulate to their demands out of fear or shame.
“Unless wrongdoers are not made to face the consequences of their actions, it would be difficult to prevent such frivolous litigations. The Courts have to ensure that there is no incentive or motive for frivolous litigations which unnecessarily consumes the Court's otherwise scarce time. This Court is of the opinion that this problem can be solved, or at least minimised, to a certain extent, if exemplary cost is imposed on the litigants for instituting frivolous litigations,” it added.
In view of the mandate of the Supreme Court that High Courts must not exercise its powers under Section 482 CrPC for quashing an offence of rape only on the ground that the parties have entered into a compromise, the High Court declined to entertain the present petition.
The Court also noted in its judgment that the parties have filed cross cases against each other.
“A perusal of the above-mentioned facts would show that the parties have registered cross-cases against each other for offences under Section 376 IPC. It is tragic to note that practising advocates belonging to the legal fraternity are trivialising the offence of rape. Rape is not merely a physical assault; it is often destructive on the whole personality of the victim. The act of rape has the ability to scar the mental psyche of the victim and this trauma can persist for years,” the judgment said.
It opined that Courts had to shoulder a great responsibility while trying an accused on charges of rape. “It is a matter of grave concern that people are treating these allegations in a very casual manner,” the Court pointed out.
"With these observations the petition is dismissed," it held.
Advocate Sonu Kumar represented the petitioners whereas Additional Public Prosecutor Kusum Dhalla argued for the State