New Delhi, August 2
The Supreme Court on Monday dismissed the plea of a rape survivor from Kottiyoor, Kerala, who moved the Supreme Court seeking permission to marry her assaulter—a defrocked priest who is undergoing 20-year imprisonment.
The top court also dismissed a separate plea of the defrocked priest seeking bail on the ground that he wanted to marry the survivor, who was a minor at the time of rape had given birth to a child.
A Bench of Justices Vineet Saran and Dinesh Maheshwari told the former priest, “The High Court has taken a decision consciously and we would not like to interfere with its finding”.
It told the victim that she may knock on the door of trial court with her plea to marry the former priest.
During the hearing, advocate Amit George, appearing for the former priest, said the High Court had passed sweeping directions in the case with regard to the marriage, which is a fundamental right.
The Bench asked George what is the age of the victim and the former priest to which he replied that his client is 49, while the rape survivor is around 25.
The top court then told George, “You yourself have invited sweeping directions from the High Court and it would not like to interfere.”
At the outset, senior advocate Kiran Suri, appearing for the woman, said that she has sought interim bail for the accused for two months, so that he can marry her and give some legitimacy to the four-year-old child.
The Bench said that both the victim and the former priest can take recourse of whatever remedy is available under law.
The woman, who was a minor when she was raped and later given birth to the child, has also sought that the former priest be released on bail.
Robin Vadakkumcherry, who had initially tried to frame the woman’s biological father, was found guilty by a POCSO court in 2019 after she turned hostile as she claimed that they had a consensual relationship.
On February 16, the Kerala High Court dismissed the plea of the former priest seeking bail to marry the survivor saying that it has no merit.
The high court had said in its order that the trial court’s finding that the survivor was a minor at the time of rape is still in force and an appeal against the conviction of the accused is still pending before it.
It had said that allowing the parties to get married while the trial court’s finding is intact would mean granting judicial approval to the marriage.
On July 13, 2018, the top court had termed as “very serious” the charges in Kottiyoor rape case involving the minor and the then Catholic priest.
It had refused to stay the trial of the case.
Besides Vadakkumcherry, police had then booked two doctors and a hospital administrator under the provisions of POCSO Act for allegedly covering up the crime, not reporting it to the police after they had come in contact with the minor rape victim and destroying of evidences.
The victim had given birth to the child at their hospital and was under their care. PTI