The Madras High Court on Friday recalled the controversial order referring a minor’s rape case for mediation and cancelled the interim bail given to the rape convict in view of the Supreme Court order dated July 1 that held that mediation and compromise should not be an option in rape cases in the ‘state of Madhya Pradesh vs Madanlal case.’
Recalling the order, Justice P Devadass, the same judge who referred it for mediation, has also stopped the mediation procedures, and asked the convict to surrender on July 13, the date that actually was set for mediation earlier.
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“This court by its order dated June 18, directed the parties to go for mediation. In view of the judgment of the Supreme Court in state of Madhya Pradesh vs Madanlal, dated July 1, the said order of this court directing the parties to go for mediation is recalled. Consequently, the interim bail granted to Mohan is cancelled. The officer-in-charge, mediation centre attached to this court shall stop the parties from attending the mediation. Registrar (judicial) of this court shall ensure compliance of this order,” the order said.
On Monday, The Indian Express reported that despite the rape victim herself slammed the Madras High Court mediation directive, the state legal services authority sent the letter to the victim to appear for mediation on July 13. However, the victim had decided to reject the offer. Besides protests from senior jurists, over 100 lawyers in the HC also had written to the Chief Justice to re-allot the portfolio of Justice Devadass with immediate effect. “Therefore it is inappropriate that the judiciary should assume the role of the quintessential patriarch and condemn the survivor to the fate of accepting the rapist’s hand in marriage as a peace offering…In allowing this decision, the High Court is effacing the autonomy and agency of a single woman, her right to a partner of her choice and to be the authority where her body is concerned. In allowing this decision, justice has been bypassed,” said the petition.
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The victim, now a 22-year-old unwed mother of a six-year-old girl, told The Indian Express in an interview that if she goes for a settlement, one day her child will question her for taking up his offer of money. “If I agree to his offer, may be we will get something. But what will be her future… being brought up as the daughter of a rapist. Even if her father is a rapist, she will realise one day that her mother struggled for her. She will learn it the hard way. That will make her a good woman,” she said.
“Did the judge ever think how I suffered all these years? He knew I had a baby from that rape. And now this single order of his wants me to go through that suffering again,” she said.