Updated: August 3, 2021 2:25:08 am
The Supreme Court on Monday dismissed petitions filed by a rape victim from Kerala and the convicted rapist, ex-Catholic priest Robin Mathew alias Robin Vadakkumcheril, seeking interim bail for the latter to solemnise their marriage.
“We do not find any ground to interfere with the order passed by the High Court. The Special Leave Petitions are, accordingly, dismissed,” a bench of Justices Vineet Saran and Dinesh Maheshwari said.
Mathew, a former priest of the St Sebastian Church at Kottiyoor in Kerala, was sentenced to 20 years of rigorous imprisonment under the Protection of Children from Sexual Offences Act in 2019 for raping and impregnating the minor girl in May 2016. She delivered a baby at a church-run hospital in 2017 and he was defrocked following his arrest in February that year.
Earlier this year, Mathew approached the High Court seeking interim bail for two months for the purpose of solemnising his marriage with the victim and to make necessary arrangements with the Child Welfare Committee to obtain joint custody of their child.
The HC rejected this saying that the question whether Mathew committed an offence in the case depends on whether the victim was a child at the time of the incident. It pointed out that the trial court had indeed found her to be a minor when it happened and added that to grant the reliefs sought for as long as the finding remains would amount to giving judicial approval to such marriage.
In the appeal in the SC, the rape victim said the child was due to be admitted to school and she wanted to marry Mathew to give legitimacy as the father’s name had to be added in school records.
Appearing for Mathew, Advocate Amit George contended that the convict’s fundamental right to marry cannot be hindered in a bail plea. He submitted that with the kind of “sweeping observations” made by the HC, it won’t be of any use even if he approaches the jail superintendent.
The bench said the HC had made the remarks after examining all aspects of the issue and that it did not wish to disturb the HC order.
The counsel said the HC’s observations are “very grim”.
“You invited it yourself,” responded the bench, and asked the parties to approach the HC where Mathew’s appeal against conviction is pending.
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