Himachal Pradesh High Court in Case Title Devyanshu V State of HP & Anr, has quashed the FIR under Sections 279 (Rash Driving or Driving on a Public way), Section 337 (Causing hurt by act endangering life or personal safety of others) and Section 338 (Causing grievous hurt by act endangering life or personal safety of others) of Indian Penal Code & Section 181 of Motor Vehicle Act, on the basis of compromise/amicable settlement between the parties.
Justice Sandeep Sharma Himachal Pradesh High Court has given a wider explanation for exercising his powers under Section 482 CrPC while arriving at a decision, either to quash or Set aside the criminal proceedings or to continue it.
Brief facts of the case emerges from a car accident occurred at Kandyali, Kumarsain, District Shimla HP, which was being driven by the petitioner whereas complainant, who was sitting next to the petitioner suffered grave injuries after which he registered an FIR. During the pendency of the case both petitioner and complainant have resolved the matter amicably and their compromised placed on record with a prayer by petitioner to quash the FIR and consequent criminal proceedings.
High Court before coming on conclusion to quash the criminal proceedings under various Sections of Indian Penal Code & Motor Vehicle Act, has perused the Judgment passed by the Supreme Court in that regard. High Court noted Apex Court in Narinder Singh & Ors Versus State of Punjab and Anr (2014) Supreme Court Cases 466, has formulated guidelines for accepting the settlement and quashing the Proceedings or refusing to accept the settlement with direction to continue with criminal proceedings. Perusal of the judgment by Apex Court has returned the findings that power conferred under Section 482 of the Code is to be distinguished from the power which lies in the Court to compound the offences under section 320 of the Code. No doubt, under section 482 of the Code, the High Court has inherent power to quash the criminal proceedings even in those cases which are not compoundable, where the parties have settled the matter between themselves. However, this power is to be exercised sparingly and with great caution. Para Nos. 29 to 29.7 of the judgment is reproduced as under:-
“29. In view of the aforesaid discussion, we sum up and lay down the following principles by which the High Court would be guided in giving adequate treatment to the settlement between the parties and exercising its power under Section 482of the Code while accepting the settlement and quashing the proceedings or refusing to accept the settlement with direction to continue with the criminal proceedings:
29.1 Power conferred under Section 482 of the Code is to be distinguished from the power which lies in the Court to compound the offences under Section 320 of the Code. No doubt, under Section 482 of the Code, the High Court has inherent power to quash the criminal proceedings even in those cases which are not compoundable, where the parties have settled the matter between themselves. However, this power is to be exercised sparingly and with caution.
29.2. When the parties have reached the settlement and on that basis petition for quashing the criminal proceedings is filed, the guiding factor in such cases would be to secure:
(i) Ends of justice, or
(ii) To prevent abuse of the process of any Court.
While exercising the power under Section 482 Cr.P.C the High Court is to form an opinion on either of the aforesaid two objectives.
29.3. Such a power is not be exercised in those prosecutions which involve heinous and serious offences of mental depravity or offences like murder, rape, dacoity, etc. Such offences are not private in nature and have a serious impact on society. Similarly, for offences alleged to have been committed under special statute like the Prevention of Corruption Actor the offences committed by Public Servants while working in that capacity are not to be quashed merely on the basis of compromise between the victim and the offender.
29.4. On the other, those criminal cases having overwhelmingly and pre-dominantly civil character, particularly those arising out of commercial transactions or arising out of matrimonial relationship or family disputes should be quashed when the parties have resolved their entire disputes among themselves.
29.5. While exercising its powers, the High Court is to examine as to whether the possibility of conviction is remote and bleak and continuation of criminal cases would put the accused to great oppression and prejudice and extreme injustice would be caused to him by not quashing the criminal cases.
29.6. Offences under Section 307 IPC would fall in the category of heinous and serious offences and therefore is to be generally treated as crime against the society and not against the individual alone. However, the High Court would not rest its decision merely because there is a mention of Section 307 IPC in the FIR or the charge is framed under this provision. It would be open to the High Court to examine as to whether incorporation of Section 307 IPC is there for the sake of it or the prosecution has collected sufficient evidence, which if proved, would lead to proving the charge under Section 307 IPC. For this purpose, it would be open to the High Court to go by the nature of injury sustained, whether such injury is inflicted on the vital/delegate parts of the body, nature of weapons used etc. Medical report in respect of injuries suffered by the victim can generally be the guiding factor. On the basis of this prima facie analysis, the High Court can examine as to whether there is a strong possibility of conviction or the chances of conviction are remote and bleak. In the former case it can refuse to accept the settlement and quash the criminal proceedings whereas in the later case it would be permissible for the High Court to accept the plea compounding the offence based on complete settlement between the parties. At this stage, the Court can also be swayed by the fact that the settlement between the parties is going to result in harmony between them which may improve their future relationship.
29.7. While deciding whether to exercise its power under Section 482 of the Code or not, timings of settlement play a crucial role. Those cases where the settlement is arrived at immediately after the alleged commission of offence and the matter is still under investigation, the High Court may be liberal in accepting the settlement to quash the criminal proceedings/investigation. It is because of the reason that at this stage the investigation is still on and even the charge sheet has not been filed. Likewise, those cases where the charge is framed but the evidence is yet to start or the evidence is still at infancy stage, the High Court can show benevolence in exercising its powers favourably, but after prima facie assessment of the circumstances/material mentioned above. On the other hand, where the prosecution evidence is almost complete or after the conclusion of the evidence the matter is at the stage of argument, normally the High Court should refrain from exercising its power under Section 482 of the Code, as in such cases the trial court would be in a position to decide the case finally on merits and to come a conclusion as to whether the offence under Section 307 IPC is committed or not. Similarly, in those cases where the conviction is already recorded by the trial court and the matter is at the appellate stage before the High Court, mere compromise between the parties would not be a ground to accept the same resulting in acquittal of the offender who has already been convicted by the trial court. Here charge is proved under Section 307 IPC and conviction is already recorded of a heinous crime and, therefore, there is no question of sparing a convict found guilty of such a crime”.
“32. We find from the impugned order that the sole reason which weighed with the High Court in refusing to accept the settlement between the parties was the nature of injuries. If we go by that factor alone, normally we would tend to agree with the High Court’s approach. However, as pointed out hereinafter, some other attendant and inseparable circumstances also need to be kept in mind which compels us to take a different view.
33. We have gone through the FIR as well which was recorded on the basis of statement of the complainant/victim. It gives an indication that the complainant was attacked allegedly by the accused persons because of some previous dispute between the parties, though nature of dispute, etc. is not stated in detail. However, a very pertinent statement appears on record viz. “respectable persons have been trying for a compromise up till now, which could not be finalized.” This becomes an important aspect. It appears that there have been some disputes which led to the aforesaid purported attack by the accused on the complainant. In this context when we find that the elders of the village, including Sarpanch, intervened in the matter and the parties have not only buried their hatchet but have decided to live peacefully in future, this becomes an important consideration. The evidence is yet to be led in the Court. It has not even started. In view of compromise between parties, there is a minimal chance of the witnesses coming forward in support of the prosecution case. Even though nature of injuries can still be established by producing the doctor as witness who conduced medical examination, it may become difficult to prove as to who caused these injuries. The chances of conviction, therefore, appear to be remote. It would, therefore, be unnecessary to drag these proceedings. We, taking all these factors into consideration cumulatively, are of the opinion that the compromise between the parties be accepted and the criminal proceedings arising out of FIR No.121 dated 14.7.2010 registered with police station Lopoke, District Amritsar Rural be quashed. We order accordingly.”
“It is quite apparent from the aforesaid exposition of Law that High Court has inherent powers to quash criminal proceedings even in those cases which are not compoundable, but such power is to be exercised sparingly and with great caution. Hon’ble Apex Court has categorically held that Court while exercising inherent power under Section 482 CrPC, must due regard to the nature and gravity of offence sought to be compounded. Hon’ble Apex Court though held that heinous and serious offences of Mental depravity, murder, rape, dacoity etc. cannot appropriately be quashed though the victim or the family of the victim have settled the dispute, but it has also observed that while exercising its powers, High Court is to examine as to whether the possibility of conviction is remote and bleak and continuation of criminal cases. Also while forming an opinion whether a criminal proceedings or complaint should be quashed in exercise of its jurisdiction under Section 482, the High Court must evaluate whether the ends of justice would justify the exercise of the inherent powers”, said Himachal Pradesh High Court.
Further, High Court has held, “Consequently, in view of the averments contained in the petition as well as the submissions having been made by the learned counsel for the parties that the matter has been compromised, and keeping in mind well settled proposition of law as well as the compromise being genuine, FIR No 31/18 dated 23/02/2018, under Sections 279,337 and 338 of the Indian Penal Code and Section 181 of the MV Act as well as the consequent proceedings pending before the court below are ordered to be quashed and set aside.”
-India Legal Bureau