Heinous and serious crimes cannot be quashed citing compromise
Yogesh and Ors Vs State of Maharashtra
Bombay HC, Aurangabad Bench
CRIMINAL WRIT PETITION NO. 615 OF 2018
About/from the judgment:
The High Court recently reiterated that a compromise between parties cannot be cited to quash cases involving heinous and serious crimes that have an impact on society, lest the public faith in the judiciary is lost.
As noted in the judgment,
"In case compromise is accepted [in a case involving serious criminal charges], it may result in cynical disregard of law, which would have serious impact on the society at large and the people may lose faith on the justice delivery system. In such circumstances, the very purpose and object of legislation about deterrent punishment would be frustrated."
The case before the Bombay High Court emanated from a fight that broke out between two groups. The Court found that the tussle involved the use of lethal weapons such as swords, knives and iron rods, leading to serious injuries and hospitalisation of persons.
The criminal complaint lodged in the matter recorded charges under Section 307 (attempt to murder) and Section 326 (causing grievous hurt) of the Indian Penal Code (IPC) being registered, among other allied charges. Both groups alleged that they had been provoked into the fight by the other.
However, during the course of the investigation, both sides arrived at a compromise. This led them to approach the Bombay High Court to quash the criminal case.
Before the Court, it was submitted that both groups had acted impulsively and that they did not want to prolong the fight, which may trigger future offences as well. Affidavits filed by the parties also stated that they have resolved their dispute amicably with the help of relatives and senior persons from society. Therefore, they sought to quash the case in the interest of the community at large.
The High Court, however, declined their prayer, given the serious nature of the offences involved.
"It is not in dispute that the offence punishable under Section 307 and 326 are non-compoundable as per Section 320 of Cr.P.C. The allegations nurtured on behalf of prosecution against the petitioners are serious and heinous in nature. The petitioners attacked the complainant with lethal weapons like sword, knife, iron rod, etc. and inflicted fatal injuries on the vital part of body.
The Bench took the view that where a case involves offences which affect the society at large, the criminal charges cannot be quashed by merely citing a compromise between the parties.
"Obviously, the offences under Sections 307 and 326 of IPC are held serious and heinous offences in the eye of law, which would cause social impact. It is a rule of law that while dealing with the application to compound the offences, on the ground of compromise, it is essential to take into consideration the distinction between the personal and private offences and its impact on the society at large."
It proceeded to highlight that Section 307 IPC has been recognised as a serious and heinous offence in a number of cases. The Bench went on to observe,
"Heinous and serious offences involving mental depravity or offences such as murder, rape and dacoity cannot appropriately be quashed though the victim or the family of the victim have settled the dispute. It has been observed that such offences are not private in nature but have a serious impact on the society. The decision to continue with the trial in such cases, is founded on the overriding elements of public interest in punishing persons involved in serious offences."
In this backdrop, the Court also noted that some of the parties involved appeared to be habituated to carrying out attacks as serious as the one involved in the present case.
"It is worth to mention that, if the recitals of the FIR, and the statements of the witnesses acquainted with the facts of the case are considered minutely, it reflects that the petitioners ventured to attack the complainant, in brutal manner with dangerous weapon. The petitioner Yogesh Bajaj and others, seem habituated for using the lethal weapons like knife, iron rod, hockey sticks, sword etc. casually during the course of assault."
This further urged the Court to conclude that the case could not be reduced to private offences. Therefore, the Court dismissed the plea for quashing the criminal case on grounds of a compromise while observing,
"In view of conduct and demeanor of the petitioners and the nature of crime committed by them, it categorically reveals that the aforesaid offences committed by the petitioners are not the offences private in nature, but it has a serious impact on the society. It cannot be said that because of settlement, there are least chances of conviction into the matter."
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