In the case of G.S.P. vs The State of Maharashtra & Ors., the Bombay High Court on 11th March 2022 quashed a first information report (FIR) against a man who was charged with the offence of rape and sexual assault on the basis of the consent given by the victim to quash the criminal proceedings as she wanted to focus on her academic career.
Facts leading to the case:
A complaint was filed by the victim who was a 12th class minor student at the time of filing the complaint against the accused who was in the first year of degree course as an external student who used to reside in the same locality where the victim used to stay. They were in a relationship. In the month of November 2019, the accused called the victim to meet him and took her to some unknown place and by overpowering exploited her sexually. Further, he threatened her to not disclose the incident and due to fear of defamation in the society and family, she refrained from disclosing the same. Later, because of mental trauma, she disclosed the incident to her grandfather.
Thereafter, the complaint was lodged. After the investigation, a charge sheet was filed before the Special Court.
The accused moved to the High Court seeking quashing of the FIR registered for the offences punishable under Sections 376 (Punishment for rape), 377 (Unnatural offences), 506 (Punishment for criminal intimidation) of the Indian Penal Code (IPC) and Sections 4 (Punishment for penetrative sexual assault) and 5 (Aggravated penetrative sexual assault) of the Protection of Children from Sexual Offences Act [POCSO], 2012.
The Counsel for the accused submitted that though the offences charged against the accused were serious, considering the wish of the victim to lead a peaceful life and concentrate on her studies, the Court by exercising its authority under Section 482 (Saving of inherent powers of High Court) of the Code of Criminal Procedure can allow the petition to quash the FIR to secure the ends of justice. The Counsel further stated that it is also a consistent view of the Hon’ble Apex Court and this Court that while exercising the powers under Section 482 of CrPC, the Court will have to consider all the necessary factors and the seriousness of the offences is one of the consideration and cannot be a sole criteria so as to reject the prayer for quashment.
Despite the fact that the parties had reached an agreement seeking quashing by consent, the State’s counsel argued that the petition should be dismissed due to the seriousness of the offences which are punishable under Section 4 & 5 of POCSO Act.
Observation of the Court:
- The Court noted that it could not disregard the fact that the victim had expressed her free choice and stated that she wanted to pursue her academic career and focus on her academics rather than dwell on her past traumas.
- The Court observed that since the victim has made no objection to the report and proceedings being quashed, it could be stated that if the prosecution would be allowed to continue, there would be little chance of a conviction being recorded against the Petitioner and that continuing the prosecution would be a futile exercise.
Considering all these factors, the Court allowed the petition.
– Vaishali Jain, Advocate & Associate – Child Safety at Work & Surbhi Singh