Case Title: Ranjeet Kumar v. State of Himachal Pradesh
A Division Bench of Justices Tarlok Singh Chauhan and Satyen Vaidya of Himachal Pradesh High Court while allowing a petition and quashing the FIR, has ruled that a case under POCSO Act can be quashed to maintain the marital harmony of the accused and the victim.
The Division Bench while providing a response to a reference made by a single judge- Virendra Singh inquired that whether POCSO Act cases could be dismissed through marriage between the accused and the victim.
Justice Virendra Singh opined that accepting such a settlement would potentially embolden criminals who have committed grievous offenses to engage in similar activities and then negotiate a settlement with the child victim.
Justice Singh’s perspective was overruled by the Division Bench, which determined that compounding the offence in such cases would allow both parties to lead a life of dignity and respect in society.
“The Court to bear in mind that every case is unique and must, therefore, essentially be decided based on its peculiar facts and circumstances. The viability of quashing criminal proceedings on the ground that the accused and the victim had settled the disputes revolves ultimately around the facts and circumstances of each case, therefore, no straight jacket formula can be evolved”.
Justice further said “It cannot be diluted by distorted perceptions and is not a slave to anything, except to the caution and circumspection, the standards of which the Court sets before it, in exercise of such plenary and unfettered power inherently vested in it while donning the cloak of compassion to achieve the ends of justice”.
The court observed that the accused was reciprocating the love of the victim, who desired to marry him. The marriage was solemnized in March of this year, and subsequently, the criminal case was resolved. Upon reviewing the evidence, the court determined that the victim and her family have reconciled the issue, and the victim is now leading a content and harmonious married life. The court also concluded that the settlement was not a guise to evade punishment.