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Wednesday July 17, 2024

Judge rejects out-of-court settlement in sexual assault case

By Yousuf Katpar
September 28, 2023

A sessions court has rejected an out-of-court settlement in a sexual assault case, observing that the offence was heinous and non-compoundable.

A man, charged with outraging modesty and attempting to sexually assault his 20-year-old stepdaughter, moved an application before Additional Sessions Judge (South) Ashraf Hussain Khowaja seeking his acquittal after an out-of-court settlement with the victim's mother.

The accused, who is out on bail, filed the application under the section 345 (2) and (6) of the Code of Criminal Procedure (CrPC) stating that both the parties had "amicably settled their dispute outside the court on the intervention of elders". He, therefore, requested the judge to grant permission to compound the offence.

State prosecutor Irfana Qadri, however, opposed the compromise plea and contended that the offence was of a heinous nature and non-compoundable. After hearing arguments, the judge dismissed the application observing that, "the offence punishable under the Section 376 [of Pakistan Penal Code] was heinous and against society as well as the state." He noted that the application did not fall within the ambit of the Section 345 (1) and (2) of the CrPC that lists offences that can be pardoned with or without court permission.

An FIR was lodged against the accused under the sections 376 (punishment for rape) and 511 (punishment for attempting to commit offences punishable with imprisonment for life or for a shorter term) of the Pakistan Penal Code at the Clifton police station on the complaint of the victim's mother.

According to the prosecution, the complainant and her daughter from her previous marriage had moved in with the accused following their marriage. However, after their divorce, when the woman and her daughter sought maintenance, including the rent for the flat where they lived and utility bills, the accused allegedly started pressurising the girl into engaging in an illicit relationship and sent objectionable videos to her via WhatsApp. The prosecution said that on November 15, 2022, the accused forcefully entered the complainant's residence and caught hold of her daughter, attempting to sexually assault her.