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Child-abuse case: SC refuses to entertain former Kerala priest’s bail plea

The Supreme Court refused to entertain on Monday a plea by a 49-year-old former priest from Kerala, serving a 20-year prison stretch under an anti-child abuse law, for bail to marry a woman whom he had raped and impregnated when she was a minor.

The rape survivor had also filed a separate petition seeking his interim bail for a few months so they could marry and legitimise the child.

Appearing before a Bench of Justices Vineet Saran and Dinesh Maheshwari, advocate Amit George, for convict Robin Vadakkumcherry, said the marriage would lend a “veneer of legitimacy” to the child.

‘Fundamental right to marry’

Mr. George even said his client had a “fundamental right to marry” which could not be thwarted by the authorities. Both the convict and the rape survivor had appealed to the Supreme Court after the Kerala High Court had refused him bail.

“What is the age difference between you and the victim,” the Bench asked the lawyer at one point. Justice Maheshwari, after perusing the files, said the High Court “has consciously taken note of everything in the case... We find no reason to interfere with the High Court decision”.

Senior advocate Kiran Suri, for the victim, said the convict could at least “come out of jail under escort” in connection with the proposed marriage.

“Go, request the High Court,” the Bench reacted. “The HC has made sweeping observations,’ Mr. George said. “You have invited that... you take recourse to whatever you can,” Justice Saran, making it clear that the Supreme Court would not intervene in the case.

The priest was tried and found guilty in 2019 under the Protection of Children from Sexual Offences Act despite the victim turning hostile.

In 2018, the Kerala government, which was represented by senior advocate K.N. Balagopal, had argued that the accused in the case were influential. The prosecution had highlighted the fact that the father of the victim was asked to take responsibility for the crime. He had later confessed to the police about Vadakumcherry.


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Printable version | Sep 28, 2021 2:14:48 AM | https://www.thehindu.com/news/national/child-abuse-case-sc-refuses-to-entertain-former-kerala-priests-bail-plea/article35676772.ece

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