It may not be necessary to mete out punishment in every criminal offence
Mohd Kafeel and Ors Vs State of UP and Anr
APPLICATION U/S 482 No. - 36199 of 2019
About/from the judgment:
Stating that once the parties had decided to bury the hatchet, continuation of criminal proceedings would cause "oppression and prejudice", it elucidated,
"The object of criminal law is primarily to visit the offender with certain consequences. He may be made to suffer punishment or by paying compensation to the victim, but the law at the same time also provides that it may not be necessary in every criminal offence to mete out punishment, particularly, if the parties concerned wants to bury the hatchet."
The decision was passed by Justice Sanjay Kumar Singh while adjudicating upon the application for compromise filed by the Applicants who were accused of harassing and torturing their wives. They had been charged under Sections 498-A, 323, 504, 506 and 316 of IPC and Sections 3 and 4 of the Dowry Prohibition Act and the trial court had dismissed their application for compromise on the ground that the offences alleged therein were non-compoundable.
Advocates Manoj Tiwari and Ashok Kumar Singh, appearing on behalf of the Applicants submitted that after settlement of the matrimonial dispute between the husbands and wives and particularly when they were living together and leading their life happily along with their children, the trial court ought to have accepted their compromise application.
A similar submission was also made on behalf of the Complainant wives, stating that they had settled their dispute and had no objection if the impugned criminal proceedings against the Applicants were quashed.
Concurring with the arguments, the court noted that the Apex Court had approved the High Court's power to quash criminal proceedings on compromise in suitable matrimonial cases. He referred to the decision in B.S. Joshi & Ors. v. State of Haryana & Anr., (2003) 1 SCC (Cri) 848, wherein the Apex Court had held,
"Section 498A was added with a view to punishing a husband and his relatives who harass or torture the wife to coerce her or her relatives to satisfy unlawful demands of dowry. The hyper-technical view would be counter productive and would act against interests of women and against the object for which this provision was added. There is every likelihood that non-exercise of inherent power to quash the proceedings to meet the ends of justice would prevent women from settling earlier."
The court further relied on State of Madhya Pradesh v. Laxmi Narayan & Ors., AIR 2019 SC 1296, wherein the Supreme Court had laid down guidelines for quashing of criminal proceedings arising out of non-compoundable offences under Section 320 CrPC on the basis of compromise and amicable settlement of matrimonial cases.
Precisely, the Supreme Court clarified that the power conferred under Section 482 of CrPC, to quash criminal proceedings for non-compoundable offences under Section 320, could be exercised in cases having predominantly civil character and where the parties had resolved the dispute amongst themselves, particularly in cases arising out of commercial transactions, matrimonial relationships or family disputes.
In view of the above, the high court held,
"even in the cases which involved non compoundable offences, their quashing has been approved by the Apex Court if the nature of the offence is such which does not have grave and wider social ramifications and where the dispute is more or less confined between the litigating parties."
He also made an observation with respect to the difficulties that may arise in procuring evidence, once the parties had decided to settle the matter.
"When the complainant of a case or the victim of the offence itself expresses its resolve not to give evidence against the accused in the back drop of the compromise between the parties inter-se or if the fact of inter-se compromise in between the parties is apparent on the face of record, and they are still called upon the depose in the Court, they in all probability, go back on their words and resile from their previous statements, the truthfulness of which is best known only to themselves. They are in such circumstances very likely to eat their words and perjure themselves. The solemn proceedings of the Court often get reduced to a sham exercise and farce in such circumstances. The proceedings can hardly be taken to their logical culmination and in such circumstances, the prospect of the conviction gets lost," he said.
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