On 14.01.2022, in the case of H S Vs. State of Madhya Pradesh, the Gwalior Bench of the Madhya Pradesh High Court refused to entertain the idea of a compromise between the parties in a case where a man was accused of sexually-harassing a minor girl and rejected the application to quash the proceedings, remarking on the seriousness of stalking and harassment faced by girls.
Facts– The victim had lodged a report in 2019 that the accused had been stalking and harassing her for the last two years. When she informed her parents, they also tried to counsel the accused but he didn’t stop so they sent her to a college in another city. When she came back home to celebrate a festival, she had gone to an ATM to withdraw money where the accused caught hold of her hand and started misbehaving with her. When she started screaming, the accused ran away, threatening to kill her and throw acid on her if she filed a report.
The case against the accused was pending in the Court of Special Judge, POCSO Act, Gwalior and an application was filed before the Trial Court under Section 320(2) of the Code of Criminal Procedure (CrPC). However, the application was rejected since the offences were non-compoundable. The Court directed the parties to appear before the Principal Registrar of the Court for verification of factum of compromise where the victim gave a statement that she had compromised in the matter with absolute consent.
Observations of the Court–
- The Court remarked that it was not a single instance of hand-holding but continuous harassment of the victim for a period of two years which started when the victim was 17 years old and he caught hold of her hand at a public place.
- Judge G.S. Ahluwalia remarked that-
“Under these circumstances and considering the nature of allegation according to which the applicant was continuously harassing and stalking her, this Court is of the considered opinion that it cannot be said that the offence committed by the applicant is not against the society. Every girl being a citizen of India has a right to live her life peacefully and without any threat to her dignity and life.”
Considering the facts and circumstances of the case, the Court refused to quash the proceedings on the basis of a compromise.
– Vaishali Jain, Advocate & Associate – POSH at Work & Rhea Bazaz, Final Year Student, Symbiosis Law School, Pune