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Heinous offences cannot be quashed despite settlement between victim's family and accused

Heinous offences cannot be quashed despite settlement between victim's family and accused

Rishi Prabha Ranjitkumar Prasad Vs State of Maharashtra

Bombay HC



About/from the judgment:

The Court observed that despite settlement between the complainant and the accused, trials in heinous offences ought to continue keeping in view the over-riding principle of public interest in punishing the offenders.

The High Court refused to quash a First Information Report against a couple accused of trafficking of a 10-year-old girl, despite the victim's family and the accused having reached an amicable settlement.

The Court held that the criminal proceedings against the petitioners could not be quashed as the case stood on a different footing in comparison to routine criminal cases "predominantly having civil flavour and which are personal in nature".

"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. Such offences are truly speaking, not private in nature but have a serious impact upon society. The decision to continue with the trial in such cases is founded on the overriding element of public interest in punishing persons for serious offences," the Court opined.

The petitioners, Rishi Prabha Prasad and her husband Ranjitkumar Prasad, were booked under Sections 370 (trafficking of persons) of the Indian Penal Code (IPC) and Sections 75 (punishment for child cruelty) and 79 (exploitation of child employee) of the Juvenile Justice (Care and Protection of Children) (JJ) Act.

The complainant in this case, an employee in the housing society where the petitioners lived, found out through his conversations with the minor that she was doing menial chores in the house and was looking after the petitioner's daughter.

He filed a complaint with the Chembur police station after he was informed by the minor that she was allegedly beaten by the petitioners for forgetting the house keys inside the house.

Aggrieved by the FIR, Ranjitkumar Prasad filed an application in 2018 for quashing the same which was rejected by the Court.

Thereafter, a chargesheet was filed by the Chembur police in the Sessions Court.

The present petitions were filed individually by both husband and wife assailing the FIR and the chargesheet against them.

The couple argued that the statement of the complainant was based on hearsay and hence no case was made out for filing of chargesheet.

He also referred to the affidavit filed by the complainant expressing his wish to discontinue the prosecution after having met the parents of the minor girl and realising the complaint was filed on misunderstanding.

The minor's parents also filed an affidavit stating that they were agricultural labourers on the farm belonging to the brother of Ranjitkumar Prasad and had longstanding relationship with the petitioners.

Since they were not able to maintain the living expense of the entire family which consisted of their four other children, they voluntarily agreed to send their daughter the petitioners' residence for her well-being and welfare.

Chief Public Prosecutor vehemently opposed the petition stating that the offences committed by the petitioners were serious in nature having an impact on the society.

After carefully perusing the pleadings before it, the Court placed specific reliance upon the statements of the minor recorded in 2018 stating that she was doing menial work in the petitioners' house and would get beaten up occasionally if she committed mistakes.

She had also stated that "she wants to go to her parents and she is not willing to continue her stay with the petitioners".

The Court noted that the statements of the victim cannot be ignored especially when her statement was substantiated by more than 10 witnesses and CCTV footage evidence.

The statements of victim, as also the statements of witnesses and other incriminating material would be sufficient to proceed with the trial, the Court added.

The court also noted prima facie that financial instability of minor's parents may have compelled them to send their daughter with the petitioners to Delhi.

Having said so the Court observed that "merely because parents of victim and complainant have filed the affidavits thereby joining the prayer of petitioners for quashing the impugned FIR on the basis of amicable settlement, the FIR and charge sheet cannot be quashed".

Read the Judgment


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