That's A Win: Marriage Cannot Be A Settlement In Rape Cases, Says Delhi High Court

That's A Win: Marriage Cannot Be A Settlement In Rape Cases, Says Delhi High Court

It was in 2012 when the country shook to its core with the brutal gang-rape of a medical student in the capital of India. Protests were held, the police officials were pulled up and the courts amended their rape laws. It's 2019 and what has changed? If you ask me, not much. The rape crises in India shows no signs of abating. According to Delhi Police data, five women were raped in the capital every day in 2018. While the number of reported cases has gone up in the past seven years by three times, the actual issue still needs to be dealt with.

However, today, we can celebrate a win for the country- Delhi High Court ruled that marriage cannot be a "settlement" in rape cases. The verdict also said that an FIR and criminal proceedings thereafter cannot be quashed even if a marriage has been agreed upon.

The fact that the offender and the survivour have got married and 'settled' the dispute between themselves isn't "good enough" a reason to quash the FIR. The court reminded everyone that the offence of rape falls under the “heinous and serious crime” category which means even if the parties have settled their dispute or got married, the FIR cannot be quashed. 



This is bound to have implications on a large number of rape cases in the country as a majority of them are reported against the people known by victims. In a report by The Hindu, National Crime Records Bureau (NCRB) says that out of 32,559 total rape cases reported in 2017 across the country, in 10,553 cases the accused were “friends, online friends, live-in partners or separated husbands” of the victims. In another 16,591 rape cases, the accused were family friends, employers, neighbours or other people they've known in some capacity. More than 93% of rape cases were known to the victim.

This decision was given by Justice Brijesh Sethi from the Delhi High Court while hearing a petition by a man requesting to quash an FIR for rape registered against him in September 2013 at the Safdarjung Enclave police station in Delhi by his live-in partner.

The woman said that the accused took advantage of her vulnerable emotional state and made her an offer of marriage and repeatedly said he had a "strong liking" for her. 

She believed him on his “false allurement of marriage and after repeated insistence from him” started living with him in Green Park in Delhi.

The girl further alleged that the man then started drinking and smoking excessively. He then forced her to have sex with him against her will and consent.  

While giving the judgement, the court held, "It is clear that the offence committed by petitioner clearly falls under the category of heinous and serious one. Rape not only causes serious injury to a woman’s body, her honour, and dignity and even if such an offence is settled by the offender and victim, this offence being not private in nature but has serious impact on the society and, therefore, cannot be quashed."



While gender equality is still a long way, these steps are bringing us closer to it. Marital rape is still a daily terror for women in our country, women become victims of acid attacks even today and the fear that a woman feels when she's out alone at night is very much real. Here's hoping that this significant verdict will make the lives of women in this country a little better. 

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