Courts can’t be used as marriage facilitators in sexual offence cases: Delhi HC

 The Delhi High Court Monday said courts cannot be used as “marriage facilitators” between parties in sexual offence cases.

The judicial system, the high court said, cannot be used to settle scores or pressure a party to act in a particular manner.

The court made the observations while dismissing an anticipatory bail petition by an accused in a case of alleged rape of a woman on the false pretext of marriage.

The accused sought pre-arrest bail on the ground that he was ready to marry the victim. The petition said the woman’s father, who was earlier not ready for the inter-caste marriage, was now prepared to accept the marriage.

Justice Swarana Kanta Sharma, however, observed that the facts and documents on record showed that both the accused as well as the complainant took “the judicial system and the investigating agencies for a ride and are trying to manipulate the judicial system to their advantage in different ways”.

“In this court’s opinion, the courts of law cannot be used as a forum for the purpose of facilitating marriages and be used as marriage facilitators by first lodging an FIR alleging that the accused, after establishing physical relations, had refused to get married to the victim and later appear before the Court for grant of bail which they have been opposing for many months,” the court said.

The State opposed the plea on the grounds that the allegations were serious in nature and the accused never joined the investigation and is absconding.

The court said the judicial system and the investigating agency have invested time and resources into the case, and it has become a trend to burden the judicial system with such complaints that clog the dockets of the courts.

“In many cases, when bail is granted at the request of complainant, after some time, applications/petitions for cancellation of bails are filed before this Court on the ground that after obtaining bail, the accused did not fulfil his promise of getting married or that after getting married to the rape victim, the victim was abandoned by the accused,” the court said.

“The courts cannot be used as a matrimonial facilitators for the purpose of pressurizing the accused to get married to the victim or be denied bail, or by the accused for obtaining bail by asking the complainant to appear before the Court and state that he was ready to get married to her,” stated the court.

In the present case, the court noted, there was nothing in the trial court proceedings or the earlier proceedings here to suggest that the parties were contemplating getting married or that the accused had even admitted to having a consensual relationship with the alleged victim.

It said it is only at this stage that the accused “presented an entirely contradictory stance of marriage”.

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“This is nothing short of taking the judicial system and the investigating agency for a ride by both the parties through their conduct and different stands taken before the courts and the investigating agency,” the court observed.

“The judicial system cannot be used either to settle scores with each other or pressurize any party to act in a particular manner to reach one’s goal. Considering the overall facts and circumstances of the case, this Court does not find it a fit case for grant of anticipatory bail as the case has travelled from the point of lodging of the FIR till the present point of investigation,” it said.

The court said truth has to prevail for which custodial interrogation of the accused may be required.

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