Proceedings under offence of kidnapping, trafficking of children can't be quashed on settlement basis: Delhi HC
It is crucial to set a precedent that unequivocally condemns the act of kidnapping and trafficking of children, ensuring that the rule of law prevails in society, stated the Delhi HC in the order.
The Delhi High Court, in an order, stated that the practice of compromising cases that involve the kidnapping of innocent minor children cannot be allowed and the criminal proceedings cannot be quashed based on such settlements. It is crucial to set a precedent that unequivocally condemns the act of kidnapping and trafficking of children, ensuring that the rule of law prevails in society, stated the Delhi High Court in the order.
The bench of Justice Swarna Kanta Sharma, in an order passed recently, held the opinion that the offences of kidnapping and trafficking of children are serious, having an impact on society at large as well as on the child's well-being and development. This Court, though it took note of the parent's decision to reach a settlement, cannot condone a practice that treats a minor girl as a tradable commodity. Such a notion goes against the principles of justice and the established legal framework designed to protect the rights and interests of children, stated the bench.
In other words, such a settlement raises ethical and legal concerns as it involves a practice where a child is effectively being treated as a commodity, jeopardising the child's well-being and contravening basic principles of law, said the Court. Moreover, the acceptance of such settlements could contribute to the perpetuation of a culture where the rights and dignity of children are subjugated to negotiation and compromise. This would set a precedent that contradicts the principles of justice and protection inherent in our legal system, said the Court.
The Court further said that quashing criminal proceedings in such cases would send a message to society that the severity of crimes against children, even those involving kidnapping and trafficking, can be mitigated or overlooked through private agreements, thereby eroding the very foundation of the rule of law. Court observation came in an order passed in a matter where a petition for quashing of the FIR was moved and it was argued that the matter has been settled between the petitioners/accused persons and the complainant parents of the minor girl and no purpose will be served by continuing the present criminal proceedings.
Noting the facts, the Court said that in a case where a minor girl aged about 3 years was kidnapped, it is for the state and courts to ensure that strong deterrence is ensured through judgements and laws to act as barriers to such offences so that a safe environment for children can be developed.The Court must also consider the long-term impact on the girl child, both psychologically and in terms of her overall development. Placing a child in a situation where her lawful custody is being determined through a settlement where the child, after being kidnapped, has remained out of the lawful custody of her parents for a period of three years also raises serious concerns about the child's future and well-being, the court stated in its order. Society relies on a legal system that upholds the principles of law and justice and protects its most vulnerable members. In the face of a crime against a minor girl child, the Court's duty is to ensure that justice is not only served but that the sanctity of the child's rights is preserved, reinforcing the unequivocal message that children are not tradable entities and their safety and well-being are non-negotiable, said the Court. (ANI)
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