Updated: June 12, 2021 8:47:44 pm
Stating that “cruelty to child” and “exploitation of child labour” are heinous crimes involving “mental depravity” and have “serious impact on society”, the Bombay High Court said they cannot be quashed despite the victim or victim’s family settling the dispute with the accused.
The HC refused to quash an FIR against a couple living at a Chembur housing society for employing a minor girl as a domestic help and physically assaulting her. The bench said it cannot quash the FIR and chargesheet on the basis of amicable settlement between the petitioners, the victim’s parents and the complainant.
A division bench of Justice S S Shinde and Justice N R Borkar on June 10 passed the ruling on pleas filed by the couple, seeking to quash the FIR registered against them by a sanitary worker of the society at the Chembur police station on September 6, 2019, for offences of trafficking, cruelty against child and exploitation of child employee under the IPC and the Juvenile Justice (Care and Protection of Children) Act, 2015.
The informant noticed for over a month the 10-year-old girl’s presence at the petitioners’ residence and through his interactions with the girl, he found that she was doing menial chores for the couple.
As per the complaint, the girl told the informant that once she had forgotten keys inside the house and thus, the door got locked. The petitioners had beaten the girl for the “mistake”. The informant then filed a complaint against the couple with the Chembur police station.
The husband then filed a writ plea before the HC in 2018, seeking the FIR to be quashed, which was rejected by the court. Thereafter, a chargesheet was filed by the Chembur Police and the case is pending before the sessions court.
Advocate Vishal Kanade for the petitioners said the complainant had admitted that the FIR was filed on the basis of misunderstanding and he does not wish to prosecute the petitioners after having met the girl’s parents.
Kanade added that the girl’s parents have “longstanding relationship” with the petitioners and that the girl had been sent voluntarily to the petitioners’ residence for her welfare.
Chief Public Prosecutor Deepak Thakare for the police opposed the plea and said the FIR cannot be quashed despite alleged amicable settlement in view of cruel treatment meted out to the girl.
The HC noted, “It prima facie appears that due to financial crunch faced by parents of victim and as they are having five children, they decided to give custody of victim to the petitioner, who brought the victim from Delhi to Mumbai.”
The HC relied on the victim’s statement recorded in 2018 concurring with the allegations in the complaint and that she wants to go to her parents as she did not want to continue her stay with the petitioners.
Rejecting the pleas, the HC held, “Heinous and serious offences involving mental depravity or offences such as murder, rape and dacoity cannot be quashed though the victim or the family of the victim have settled the dispute. Such offences have a serious impact upon society. The decision to continue with the trial in such cases is founded on the overriding element of public interest in punishing persons for serious offences.”
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