The Delhi High Court on Monday observed that cases of sexual violence cannot be quashed based on monetary payments as it would imply that justice is for sale. The high court made the observation while dismissing a plea moved by a man accused of rape seeking quashing of an FIR registered by a woman on the ground that the matter was amicably settled between the parties and she “agreed to settle her claims for Rs 1.5 lakh ”.

In the July 1 order, a single judge bench of Justice Swarana Kanta Sharma said, “This Court observes that the present case reveals continuous incidents of extreme sexual violence and the fact that the accused had misrepresented himself as divorced and had engaged in sexual violence and a sexual relationship with her under the false pretext of marriage. The FIR specifically alleges not only sexual violence but also the creation of inappropriate videos and photos of their relationship and threats to kill her and her son, and repeated misrepresentation by the accused”.

The woman, a single mother, had alleged that the accused had misrepresented himself as a divorced man and had engaged in sexual violence and a sexual relationship with her under the false pretext of marriage.

In her order, Justice Sharma observed that the First Information Report highlights issues of “self-respect, life and death for the prosecutor (woman) and her child, and contains her assertions that she possesses evidence of the threats and other allegations”.

“The Court also notes that the MoU (Memorandum of Understanding) entered into by the parties is not the result of a resolution of misunderstandings through family intervention but rather an exchange of money amounting to Rs. 12 lakh, intended to secure the quashing of the FIR. However, 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,” the bench underlined.

Festive offer

The court said it is faced with a situation where the accused seeks to pay Rs. 12 lakh, and the woman seeks to accept it to quash an FIR filled with grave allegations of sexual violence and threats. After considering the financial condition of the man, it was later stated that the woman was ready to settle for Rs. 1.5 lakh. “In these circumstances, this Court concludes that the present case does not fall within the principles laid down by the Hon’ble Supreme Court for quashing an FIR. The offense under Section 376 is a serious crime against society at large,” noted Justice Sharma.

Justice Sharma also said if the woman has made false allegations and lodged a false FIR, then she must “face the consequences if proven”. Justice Sharma said the matter did not merit the quashing of the FIR but requires a trial to determine whether the accused committed the offenses or the woman lodged a false complaint and now seeks to settle by accepting Rs. 1.5 lakh.

Dismissing the plea, Justice Sharma said, “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 or misuse State and judicial resources to serve their own ends. Therefore, even if the parties have reached a compromise, they cannot demand the quashing of an FIR as a matter of right”.

Justice Sharma said the trial court must decide the case on its merits, examine the facts in the light of “natural justice” for both the woman and the accused, and also consider the “broader implications for the community and the criminal justice system”.