Proceedings may be quashed even in non-compoundable offences if the parties have compromised: High court of Himachal Pradesh

Judicial proceedings if the offence is non-compoundable can be quashed if the interest of justice will be ultimately met. Such an option is available only if there is a compromise between the parties and the chances of conviction are bleak even if the trial is allowed to continue. This was decreed by the single judge bench comprising of The Hon’ble Mr. Justice Chander Bhusan Barowalia in Smt. Sagari Devi and ors. Vs. State of H.P. & ors. [Cr. MMO No. 291 of 2021. Decided on: 2nd July, 2021].

The brief facts of the case are, respondent No.4 got married to petitioner No.2 on the 30th of January 2020. It was later reported that the petitioners started maltreating and harassing her for the reasons of insufficient dowry. Based on the same, an FIR was registered against the petitioners. However, on 17.06.2021, the parties entered into a compromise deed and did not want to pursue this case against each other and have thus filed a petition before this court to quash the proceedings. The learned counsel for the petitioners submitted that the parties have compromised and there would be no purpose in going forward with the proceedings and thus this must be quashed. The learned additional advocate however submits that, the offence is not compoundable and in case of a non-compoundable offence, the petition cannot be quashed but only dismissed.

The learned judge after listening to both the parties has opined that, for the purpose of securing the ends of justice, it is necessary to quash an FIR. He relied on the judgement by the Hon’ble supreme court in B.S. Joshi and others vs. State of Haryana and another, (2003) 4 SCC 675, where in it was held that, “We are, therefore, of the view that if for the purpose of securing the ends of justice, quashing of FIR becomes necessary, Section 320 would not be a bar to the exercise of power of quashing. It is, however, a different matter depending upon the facts and circumstances of each case whether to exercise or not such a power.”

The court also placed heavy reliance on Preeti Gupta and another vs. State of Jharkhand and another, (2010) 7 SCC 667, where the court held that, “the ultimate object of justice is to find out the truth and punish the guilty and protect the innocent. The tendency of implicating the husband and all his immediate relations is also not uncommon. At times, even after the conclusion of the criminal trial, it is difficult to ascertain the real truth. Experience reveals that long and protracted criminal trials lead to rancour, acrimony and bitterness in the relationship amongst the parties. The criminal trials lead to immense sufferings for all concerned. Their Lordships have further held that permitting complainant to pursue complaint would be abuse of process of law and the complaint against the appellants was quashed.”

Thus, the court held that if the interests of justice would be met if the proceedings are quashed, then no section would bar the courts from exercising this power. In this case, the court quashed the FIR and any proceedings arising out of it and dismissed the petition.

Click here to read the judgement.

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