CHENNAI/CUDDALORE:Notwithstanding the Supreme Court’s recent observation that it would be a “spectacular error” to adopt any kind of liberal approach in sexual assault cases, the State Legal Services Authority here will on July 13 conduct mediation between a young unwed mother and her rapist.
This is as per last month’s controversial order of Justice P Devadoss of the Madras High Court. Justice Devadoss had triggered a nationwide outrage by granting bail to a rapist to facilitate mediation with a Cuddalore-based woman whom he raped and impregnated while she was a minor seven years ago.
The judge’s order had prompted a group of eminent lawyers to write to the Chief Justice of the Madras High Court seeking his intervention to recall the interim verdict. Subsequently, the SC had made it known that mediation cannot be resorted to in rape cases.
Despite the uproar, the Legal Services Authority has issued notices to the victim and the rapist directing them to attend a mediation session on the afternoon of July 13. “We received the notice. It is going to make no difference to us attending the mediation. Even if we do, we will not agree for a compromise with the rapist,” the victim’s brother told Express.
Jurists and lawyers are divided on whether it would be appropriate to conduct the mediation in the backdrop of the Supreme Court’s ruling.
“In my view, the Supreme Court’s order is binding. Nonetheless, since the Madras High Court order too stands, the Legal Services Authority would have served the notice,” said retired High Court judge Justice K Chandru. Adverting to the representation submitted by the lawyers on the issue, Justice Chandru said, “It is apparent that the Chief Justice does not want to take action as it is a judicial order and as such it cannot be corrected by an administrative order. I feel the Chief Justice should have taken suo motu action.”
Meanwhile, a retired judge of the Madras HC has said that the woman could opt out of the exercise, saying it would not amount to contempt of court.