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Court concluded that accepting such settlements could perpetuate a culture where the rights and dignity of children are subject to negotiation and compromise
The Delhi High Court has firmly stated that cases involving the kidnapping or trafficking of children are grave offences that cannot be compromised or quashed based on settlements between the perpetrators and the child's parents.
Justice Swarna Kanta Sharma, therefore, dismissed a plea seeking to quash criminal proceedings against the accused involved in the kidnapping of a minor girl.
The court expressed concern over the settlement reached between the kidnappers and the child's parents, describing it as "concerning" and highlighting the ethical and legal issues associated with such arrangements.
While acknowledging the parents' decision to reach a settlement, the court emphasized that offences like kidnapping and trafficking of children have far-reaching consequences for society and the well-being of the child. The judgment stated, "This Court...cannot condone a practice that treats a minor girl as a tradable commodity."
The case dates back to 2020 when a minor girl and her younger brother were kidnapped. Although the boy was later returned to the parents, three accused—Rubina, Nisha, and Kapil Kumar were arrested in connection with the case, and the girl was recovered.
The accused sought to quash the criminal case, arguing that they had settled the matter with the minor's parents. They contended that Nisha and Kapil were unaware of the kidnapping and requested leniency due to their inability to conceive for medical reasons. The parents expressed no objection if the accused couple legally adopted the child.
Rejecting the plea for a "humanitarian approach," the court asserted that such leniency would contradict fundamental principles of criminal jurisprudence and the legitimate expectations of society to punish those committing heinous offenses.
The court raised concerns about the "commodification of children," challenging moral values and ethical standards. It deemed the idea of negotiating a girl child's custody like property as contrary to the principles of the rule of law.
Despite the parents' desire for the child to live with the kidnappers, the court held that the law cannot side with those opposing it. The judgment emphasized the court's responsibility to stand firm on the side of the law, balancing the rights of victims while considering the broader implications of such settlements on society.
Rejecting the argument that the child had become attached to her kidnappers, the court highlighted the criminal nature of the act and emphasized that lenient views in such cases would undermine criminal law principles and weaken the rule of law.
The court concluded that accepting such settlements could perpetuate a culture where the rights and dignity of children are subject to negotiation and compromise.
Quashing criminal proceedings in such cases would convey a message that the severity of crimes against children can be mitigated through private agreements, which the court deemed unacceptable. Consequently, the petition was dismissed.
Case Title: Smt. Rubina & Ors v The State (Govt of NCT Of Delhi) & Ors
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