No financial settlement in sexual abuse cases: Delhi High Court

This observation came as the High Court declined to quash an FIR registered under Section 376 (rape) of the Indian Penal Code (IPC).
Delhi High Court
Delhi High Court (File Photo | PTI)

NEW DELHI: In a significant stance against the commercialisation of justice, the Delhi High Court has declared that cases involving allegations of sexual violence cannot be terminated through financial settlements.

This observation came as the High Court declined to quash an FIR registered under Section 376 (rape) of the Indian Penal Code (IPC).

The case involved allegations that a woman was sexually assaulted multiple times by a man whom she had met through social media. The accused had reportedly misrepresented himself as divorced and coerced the victim into a physical relationship under false promises of marriage.

Initially, both parties reached an agreement to settle the matter by withdrawing the FIR in exchange for a payment of Rs 12 lakh. However, considering the financial situation of accused, the final settlement amount was reduced to Rs 1.5 lakh.

Justice Swarna Kanta Sharma, while deliberating on the case, said that allowing the quashing of such serious charges based on monetary transactions would undermine the sanctity of justice and suggest that justice can be bought and sold.

“........if the prosecutrix has made false allegations and lodged a false FIR, she must face the consequences if proven. Therefore, this case does not merit the quashing of the FIR but necessitates a trial to determine whether the accused committed the offences or whether the complainant lodged a false complaint and now seeks to settle by accepting Rs 1.5 lakhs,” read the order.

The order further stated that the court is of the opinion that true justice and the ends of justice will be served not by quashing the FIR without a trial, but by conducting a trial to fairly ascertain the real culprit, whether it be the accused or the complainant.

“This court is of the opinion that justice in a criminal trial, particularly in a case such as the present one, serves not only as a serious example and deterrent to the accused but also as a lesson to the community as a whole. Neither the accused nor the complainant can be allowed to manipulate the criminal justice system. Therefore, even if the parties have reached a compromise, they cannot demand the quashing of an FIR as a matter of right,” it further stated.

The case

A woman accused a man, whom she had met through social media, of sexually assaulting her multiple times by a man under false promises of marriage. Later both parties reached an agreement to settle the matter by withdrawing the FIR in exchange for a payment of Rs 12 lakh which was reduced to Rs 1.5 lakh

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