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Court may quash criminal proceedings post-conviction for a non-compoundable offence on settlement only in the rarest of rare cases: Bombay High Court

In cases where there is a settlement between the convict and the complainant, the Court must not liberally exercise the option of quashing the criminal proceedings post-conviction for an offence that is not compoundable. A three-judge bench comprising of Justice AS Chandurkar, Justice Vinay Joshi and Justice NB Suryawanshi while adjudicating the matter in Sau. Maya Sanjay Khandare v. State of Maharashtra [CRIMINAL APPLICATION (APL) NO. 709/2020], dealt with the issue of exercise of discretion under Section 482 of CrPC that states that; nothing shall limit the powers of the High Court to prevent abuse of the process of any Court or otherwise to secure the ends of justice.

The accused was tried for having committed an offence punishable under Section 323 of the Indian penal Code i.e., voluntarily causing grievous hurt along with Section 354 for assault and Section 447 for criminal trespass under the Penal Code. During the pendency of the appeal, the accused and the informant arrived at a compromise and the said parties approached this Court under Section 482 of the Code especially in the backdrop of the fact that the offence under Section 354 of the Penal Code was non-compoundable. The Division Bench at Aurangabad held that since the parties had decided to maintain good and cordial relations in future and such thought was necessary for the society, inherent powers under Section 482 of the Code were required to be invoked. Accordingly, the informant was permitted to compound all the offences including the one under Section 354 of the Penal Code.

The learned counsel appearing for the appellant submitted that there is no embargo on the exercise of jurisdiction under Section 482 of the Code to entertain such application for quashing of the criminal proceedings/conviction in view of the fact that an appeal challenging the order of conviction had the effect of continuation of the trial itself. If after conviction the convict and the informant found it fit to settle the disputes amongst themselves and the offences involved in the criminal proceedings were not serious in nature, such power could be invoked to put an end to the entire dispute.

The Court upon considering the aforesaid facts held that; “Any compromise entered into post-conviction for a non-compoundable offence cannot by itself result in acquittal of the accused. Similarly, the Court has no power to compound any offence that is non-compoundable and not permitted to be compounded under Section 320 of the Code. The compromise entered into therefore is just a mitigating factor that can be taken into account while hearing the appeal/revision challenging the conviction and which factor has to be taken into consideration while imposing appropriate punishment/sentence. It is not permissible to set aside the judgment of conviction at the appellate/revisional stage only on the ground that the parties have entered into a compromise. In a given case the appellate Court/revisional Court also has the option of not accepting the compromise. Thus, if the judgment of conviction cannot be set aside in an appeal/revision only on the ground that the parties have entered into a compromise similar result cannot be obtained in a proceeding under Section 482 of the Code. It is only in rarest of rare cases that the Court may quash the criminal proceedings post-conviction for a non-compoundable offence on settlement between the convict and the informant/complainant.”

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