Chennai: A rapist was granted bail last week by the Madras High Court, which asked him to meet his victim for a settlement and hinted at a 'happy conclusion' that could be marriage. The order was widely condemned, but it has received support from unlikely quarters - the state women's commission.
"We would be very happy to see the criminal and the affected girl get together. That is our aim and objective," said Dr Visalakshi Nedunchezian, the chairperson of the women's commission.
V Mohan was sentenced to seven years in jail for raping a 15-year-old orphan in 2008. The girl became pregnant and is now a young mother of a six-year-old daughter.
Mohan challenged his conviction and was given interim bail by Justice P Devadass, who said: "The victim-girl has become mother of a child. But as on date, she is nobody's wife. So she is an unwed mother. Now there is a big question mark looming large before the girl as well as her child, who is completely innocent ...It's a fit case for attempting compromise. Alternate disputes resolution gaining momentum in west."
He described a possible marriage as a "happy conclusion."
Asked if she agreed with the judge's ruling, Dr Neduchezian said: "There is no question of right or wrong in this case. If the girl has no source of income or livelihood she may adjust and live with him. Toleration is the main point here."
Many activists have written to the Chief Justice of the Madras High Court saying this kind of mediation in a rape case is unacceptable.
The rape survivor has said: "In what assurance can I live with him? Even if I go will they take good care of me? They should write at least a portion of their property in my child's name. I'm asking this only for his child. Tomorrow I can't even question if he goes away with another woman".
But the women's panel chief dismisses that worry, arguing that "because the judgement has been given, he cannot escape. So I think there is some guarantee here."