A Delhi Court Endorses Marriage of a Minor Girl to Her Rapist
The brutal rape of Nirbhaya forced the government to change the law of the land. But what if the upholders of the law become the violators? Here is the story of a 15-year old rape victim, Sonia (name changed), who was duped into marrying her alleged rapist, a 26-year old man, Deepak Garg. Surprisingly, a Delhi court judge, Vikas Dhull, endorsed the marriage of the minor as legal and granted bail to the alleged rapist.
On 1 September 2014, the 15-year-old filed a rape case against Garg, on the basis of which he was arrested and sent to jail. Later, to get their son out of jail, the accused’s family approached the victim’s family for marriage.
The judge granted interim bail to the alleged rapist within 7 days of his arrest, on the grounds that the victim’s family agreed to get their daughter married to Garg.
In the facts and circumstances, having regard to the fact that both parties intend to get the child victim and accused married, therefore, in these facts, accused is admitted to interim bail for a period of 15 days….(cont)Interim Bail Order by Additional Session Judge, Dwarka, Vikas Dhull, Dated: 15.9.2014
Within a few days of securing the interim bail from the court, Garg married Sonia. On the next date of the bail hearing which was 15 days later, the judge changed the interim bail to regular bail on the grounds that the victim and alleged rapist are a married couple.
The victim and her family thought that the marriage would end all their problems but it was actually the beginning of their plight.
Disgruntled with the police, the family approached the court to cancel the bail granted to the alleged rapist. Once again the matter came up for hearing before the same judge, Vikas Dhull. After hearing the matter for over a year, on 7 December 2015, the judge dismissed the application seeking cancellation of the bail.
The marriage of child victim with accused took place on 25.09.2014. No condition was put in the bail order as to how accused should live his matrimonial life. Therefore, on the strength of allegations made by child victim regarding accused treating her with cruelty on account of dowry demands or on account of physical and mental abuse, bail granted to accused cannot be cancelled. Child victim can take appropriate remedy with regard to her allegations as per Matrimonial Laws. Accordingly, the application of applicant Child victim seeking cancellation of bail of accused is dismissed.Order by Additional Session Judge, Dwarka, Vikas Dhull
The victim’s family says that they were cheated into marriage by the alleged rapist’s family and now the court too is passing orders in their favour.
No One to Assist the Victim’s Family
Sonia’s mother approached the Delhi Women Commission but here too her complaint was not accepted because she is a minor. According to the victim’s mother, she will appeal to the apex court if the session court judge refuses to annul this marriage.
SC: Wedlock Cannot Be a Solution to Rape
In July 2015, while hearing a case on an attempt to rape a minor in Madhya Pradesh in 2008, the Supreme Court said, “The conception of compromise, under no circumstances, can be thought of in a case of rape or attempt to rape.” A bench of Justice Dipak Misra and PC Pant further added:
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. We are compelled to say so as such an attitude reflects a lack of sensibility towards the dignity, the elan vital, of a woman.
Legal experts say this marriage of a minor girl, with or without consent, cannot be considered legal.
‘Only Education Will Make Me Independent’
The rape victim has been confined within the four walls of her home. She is not allowed to leave her house alone. The family fears that the alleged accused might try to assault her physically.
Sonia’s case raises several questions about our current legal system. It seems that simply amending the law is not the whole solution, it is also the implementation of the law which has to be enforced.
(The Quint is now on WhatsApp. To receive handpicked stories on topics you care about, subscribe to our WhatsApp services. Just go to TheQuint.com/WhatsApp and hit the Subscribe button.)