Criminal Appeal No. 1039 of 2021
Date of Judgement:
20 September 2021
Justice Ajay Rastogi
Justice Abhay S Oka
Appellant – Bhagwan Narayanan Gaikwad.
Respondents – The State of Maharashtra and Ors.
Compromise can be allowed even after the alleged incident, or conviction can be allowed keeping in mind the other factors and the crime’s impact on the society. Hence, compromise alone cannot be considered to change the sentence of the accused.
- Section 149 in the Indian Penal Code - If an offence is committed by any member of an unlawful assembly in prosecution of the common object of that assembly, or such as the members of that assembly knew to be likely to be committed in prosecution of that object, every person who, at the time of the committing of that offence, is a member of the same assembly, is guilty of that offence.
- Section 326 in the Indian Penal Code - Voluntarily causing grievous hurt by dangerous weapons or means.
- Section 320 of the Code of Criminal Procedure – Compounding of Offences.
- The facts of the case are that on 13th December, 1993,the accused pelted stones at the respondent, when he was returning home on his bicycle. The accused also, using a sword, attacked the respondent resulting mutation of his right leg and detachment of right hand, causing severe bodily damage. The doctor who examined the victim held that these injuries would have caused death to the victim if he was not treated timely as there was immense loss of blood.
- The appellant informed that a compromise has been entered between him and the respondent. The compromise affidavit stated that the relationship between them evolved cordial and requested for release on the sentence undergone.
- The counsel for the State opposed the compromise as the crime of the appellant is of greater magnitude and is a crime against society. The counsel also pointed out that while the case was pending for 28 years, there was no incident of compromise or integration of both parties but subsequently after the conviction, there seems to have grown a cordial relationship and both parties entered into compromise. The counsel alleged that there were possible chances of coercion by the appellant.
- The Supreme Court upheld the High Court’s conviction and observation that the act of the appellant was premediated, and the brutality is apparent from the events described above.
- TheCourt was not convinced of the compromise which happened immediately after the conviction by the High Court, which was pending for 28 years. It upheld the order of the High Court convicting the appellant and did not consider the compromise affidavit.
- Can the sentence be compounded by a compromise entered between the parties?
- An offence under Section 326 of the IPC is non-compoundable. However, referring to Murali v. State represented by Inspector of Police (2021), wherein it was observed that a compromise should not be obtained by coercion or any other threat or undue influence, it was further observed that while considering a compromise between the parties, other aggravating and mitigating factors should be considered.
- Herein it was observed that there was an interregnum of 28 years and there was no contact or effort from both parties to compromise. But subsequently after the High Court judgement convicting the appellant, a compromise was entered into.
- The aim of criminal justice system is to protect the society in general and deter any activity which creates disharmony. The Government brings criminal charges upon the accused unlike in civil suits where only parties get involved. This is because a criminal offence is an offence against the public morality and interest.
- The punishments should be in line with the societal norms and expectation of civil code of conduct. In this case, the victim’s life is permanently altered as his essential organs have been mutated by the appellant. Given the magnitude of the crime, it is important to keep in mind the impact of this incident on the society and if the compromise was allowed the faith in judicial system and its ability to regulate and cater to the larger interest of the society.
The object of compounding of offence is to maintain peace and harmony between the parties and society and to divert the focus on the victims by way of compensation and to quicken the redressal process. However, not all offences can be compounded even if the parties agree to it. The courts should consider the facts and circumstance of each case and its impact on the society.
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Questions to Analyse –
- Which Section in the CrPC talks about compounding of offences?
- Can all disputes be settled or compounded if a compromise is entered upon by the parties?