New Delhi, July 1: The Supreme Court on Wednesday held that a rape accused would not be let off the hook even if he agrees to enter into wedlock with the rape victim, saying that for a woman, her body is her own temple and could not be defiled.
"When a human frame is defiled, the purest treasure, is lost. Dignity of a woman is a part of her non-perishable and immortal self and no one should ever think of painting it in clay. There cannot be a compromise or settlement as it would be against her honour which matters the most. It is sacrosanct," said a bench of Justice Dipak Misra and Justice Prafulla C. Pant in their judgment.
"We would like to clearly state that in a case of rape or attempt of rape, the conception of compromise, under no circumstances, can really be thought of," it said.
"These (rape or attempt of rape) are crimes against the body of a woman which is her own temple. These are offences which suffocate the breath of life and sully the reputation. And reputation, needless to emphasise, is the richest jewel one can conceive of in life. No one would allow it to be extinguished," said Justice Misra speaking for the bench.
Describing the offer of entering into wedlock by the accused as a "subterfuge", the court said: "Sometimes solace is given that the perpetrator of the crime has acceded to enter into wedlock with her which is nothing but putting pressure in an adroit manner; and we say with emphasis that the courts are to remain absolutely away from this subterfuge to adopt a soft approach to the case."
The court said that any such "liberal approach" by the court "has to be put in the compartment of spectacular error. Or to put it differently, it would be in the realm of a sanctuary of error".
"We are compelled to say so as such an attitude reflects lack of sensibility towards the dignity, the elan vital, of a woman" and "any kind of liberal approach or thought of mediation in this regard is thoroughly and completely sans legal permissibility," the court said, remanding the matter back to the Madhya Pradesh High Court for reconsideration.
Referring to an earlier apex court verdict, the judgment said it has to be kept in mind that "respect for reputation of women in the society shows the basic civility of a civilised society. No member of society can afford to conceive the idea that he can create a hollow in the honour of a woman. Such thinking is not only lamentable but also deplorable".
The court said this while accepting the Madhya Pradesh government's plea challenging a high court order convicting Madan Lal of outraging the modesty of the victim but reducing his sentence to one he had already undergone.
The incident relates to December 27, 2008, when Madan Lal raped the victim who was just seven years of age.
A session court in Guna convicted him under Sections 376(2)(f) (commits rape on a woman when she is under 12 years of age) and 511 (Punishment for attempting to commit offences punishable with imprisonment for life or other imprisonment) of the Indian Penal Code and sentenced him to five years' rigorous imprisonment.
The court had rejected the plea for compromise, saying that offences against the accused were non-compoundable.