'Justice for sale' if sexual violence case quashed after money paid: Delhi HC

The court ruled that even if a compromise is reached, the FIRs in cases of sexual violence cannot be quashed as a matter of right and wrong

Delhi HC rejected a petition to cancel a 2020 rape case because of monetary payments (photo: IANS)
Delhi HC rejected a petition to cancel a 2020 rape case because of monetary payments (photo: IANS)

NH Digital

The Delhi High Court has rejected a petition to cancel a 2020 rape case hearing because monetary payments have been made and the 'matter settled' out of court — it said that closing the case would imply that “justice is for sale”.

Justice Swarana Kanta Sharma stressed that the bench could not allow the complainant and the accused to "manipulate" the criminal justice system and that it was crucial to ascertain the real culprit. The high court said even if the parties have reached a compromise in a sexual violence case, they cannot demand quashing of the FIR as a matter of right.

“… This court is of the opinion that criminal cases involving allegations of sexual violence cannot be quashed on the basis of monetary payments, as doing so would imply that justice is for sale,” Justice Swarana Kanta Sharma said.

Justice Sharma added in her verdict read out 1 July that the court believed 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'.

The court made this observation while rejecting a plea moved by the rape-accused, which sought the quashing of an FIR registered by the woman complainant on the grounds that the matter was amicably settled between the parties and that she had agreed to settle the case against him for Rs 1.5 lakh.

Additional public prosecutor Naresh Kumar Chahar opposed the petition, arguing that it would be a travesty of justice and an abuse of the criminal justice system if the complainant was allowed to withdraw the case.

In an order passed on Monday, 1 July, the High Court said it had considered the fact that the FIR itself reveals serious allegations against the man and his family members, including consistent threats levelled at the prosecutrix to prevent her from lodging a complaint.

The court noted that the memorandum of understanding (MOU) entered into by the parties is not the result of a resolution of misunderstandings through family intervention but an exchange of money totalling Rs 12 lakh, intended to secure the quashing of the FIR.

The woman had initially demanded Rs 12 lakh from the man, but later settled for Rs 1.5 lakh.

In the FIR, the woman, who was divorced and had a child, alleged that the accused had misrepresented himself as a divorcee and engaged in a sexual relationship with her, which escalated to sexual violence, under a false pretext of marriage in the future.

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