Tuesday, April 2, 2019

HC cancels compensation to rape complainant

The Gujarat high court has quashed an order of compensation to a rape complainant after it acquitted the accused on the conclusion that the girl was a consenting party to the physical relationship. The HC said that compensation to a rape victim is not a vested right.
After acquitting the man of rape charges, the bench of Justice J B Pardiwala and Justice A C Rao quashed the trial court’s order to pay compensation of Rs 55,000 to the complainant and her illegitimate child. The trial court in Rajkot had in 2009 ordered compensation after holding the man guilty of rape and sentencing him to three-year imprisonment.

While acquitting the accused and cancelling the compensation order, the HC observed, “When a conviction is set aside, the effect which flows out of such a conviction, namely, the award of compensation to the victim, also disappears. When compensation is awarded to the victim, it is always subject to the right of appeal which vests in the convict. This grant of compensation cannot be regarded as a vested right.” The case involved one Kadva Savaliya, a married man and father of two children, who was accused of rape by a 19-year-old in Rajkot district in 2007. Savaliya was convicted to a three-year jail term. On the state government’s appeal, the high court increased his punishment to seven years, which is the minimum sentence prescribed for rape. Savaliya moved the Supreme Court against an increase in punishment and the matter was sent back to the high court because its order was not a reasoned order.

Upon rehearing the case, the HC concluded that the girl was a consenting party to the physical relationship. For its conclusion, the high court charted out the reasons based on the behaviour of the girl and her father, who tried to settle the matter with the accused when he came to know about his daughter’s pregnancy. The HC concluded that the girl lodged an FIR because she had no other option left and deposed in court against Savaliya under the pressure from his family members.
After acquitting Savaliya of rape charges, the court quashed the compensation order for the girl. But the HC said that it is always open for the girl to initiate legal proceedings for maintenance for the illegitimate child born in the physical relationship of the victim and the accused.

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