The plenitude of the power under Section 482 CrPC makes it obligatory for the High Court to exercise the same with utmost care and caution: High Court of Delhi.

The width and the nature of the power itself demands that the High Court’s exercise of power is  sparing and only in cases where the Court is, for reasons to be recorded, of the clear view that continuance of the prosecution would be nothing but an abuse of the process of law. This was held in the case of Akthar v. Govt of NCT, Delhi and Anr, [CRL.M.C. 59/2021 & CRL.M.A. 278/2021] by Hon’ble Justice Subramanion Prasad in the High Court of Delhi.

The respondent filed a complaint at Police Station Prem Nagar stating that the petitioner promised that he would marry her. It is stated that the complainant and the petitioner became intimate and had physical relationship she had been promised marriage by the petitioner. It is stated that later the respondent came to know that the petitioner had concealed his identity and his real name is Akhtar. She states in the FIR that the petitioner took her to Arya Samaj Mandir and they both got married there and in the marriage certificate he has given his name as Akhtar. It is stated that after the marriage, the petitioner started demanding money and when the respondent visited his parents, she was driven away by them. A compromise deed was filed where it was stated that the complainant has pardoned the petitioner/accused and they are willing to lead their peaceful marital life.

The power of the High Court under Section 482 Cr.P.C. to quash proceedings in those offences which are non-compoundable is recognised. The Supreme Court has time and again held that High Court has to keep in mind the subtle distinction between the power of compounding offences given to the Court under Section 320 CrPC and the quashing of criminal proceedings and the jurisdiction conferred upon it under Section 482 CrPC.

The Supreme Court in Gian Singh v. State of Punjab reported as (2012) 10 SCC 303 observed that quashing of offence or criminal proceedings on the ground of settlement between an offender and victim is not the same thing as compounding of offence. They are different and not interchangeable. Strictly speaking, the power of compounding of offences given to a court under Section 320 is materially different from the quashing of criminal proceedings by the High Court in exercise of its inherent jurisdiction. In compounding of offences, power of a criminal court is circumscribed by the provisions contained in Section 320 and the court is guided solely and squarely thereby while, on the other hand, the formation of opinion by the High Court for quashing a criminal offence or criminal proceeding or criminal complaint is guided by the material on record as to whether the ends of justice would justify such exercise of power although the ultimate consequence may be acquittal or dismissal of indictment.” The petition was dismissed.

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