The Supreme Court stated that it cannot shut its eyes to the ground reality and Tamil Nadu custom of marriage of a girl with her maternal uncle and disturb the happy family.
The appellant who is the maternal uncle of the prosecutrix belongs to Valayar community, which is a most backward community in the State of Tamilnadu. He works as a woodcutter on daily wages in a private factory. FIR was registered against him for committing rape under Sections 5(j) (ii) read with Section 6, 5 (I) read with Section 6 and 5 (n) read with Section 6 of Protection of Child from Sexual Offences (POCSO) Act, 2012. He was convicted after trial for committing the said offences and sentenced to undergo rigorous imprisonment for a period of 10 years by the Sessions Judge, Fast Track Mahila Court, Tiruppur. The High Court, by an order, upheld the conviction and sentence. Aggrieved thereby, the appellant has filed the appeal.
Advocate M.P.Parthiban, appearing for the appellant, contended that the allegation against him was that he had physical relations with the prosecutrix on the promise of marrying her. He argued that, in fact, he married the prosecutrix and they have two children.
He further submitted that the Court should exercise its power under Article 142 of the Constitution and ought to do complete justice and it could not be in the interest of justice to disturb the family life of the appellant and the prosecutrix.
Advocate Joseph Aristotle S., appearing for the State, opposed the grant of any relief to the appellant on the ground that the prosecutrix was aged 14 years on the date of the offence and gave birth to the first child when she was 15 years and second child was born when she was 17 years.
He submitted that the marriage between the appellant and the prosecutrix is not legal. He expressed his apprehension that the said marriage might be only for the purpose of escaping punishment and there is no guarantee that the appellant will take care of the prosecutrix and the children after the Court grants relief to him
The division bench of Justice L. Nageswara Rao and Justice B.R. Gavai observed that the conviction and sentence of the appellant who is maternal uncle of the prosecutrix deserves to be set aside in view of the subsequent events that have been brought to the notice of the Court.
The Court said that it cannot shut its eyes to the ground reality and disturb the happy family life of the appellant and the prosecutrix. It has been informed about the custom in Tamilnadu of the marriage of a girl with the maternal uncle.
For the aforesaid mentioned reasons, the court set aside the conviction and sentence of the appellant and held that it shall not be treated as a precedent.
Case title: K Dhandapani v/s The State by the Inspector of Police
Citation: Criminal Appeal No.796 OF 2022