The Court in this case clarified that the offences which are not grave in nature and do not affect the society can be quashed by the Court if a compromise has been made between the parties. When the dispute is between private parties, it is inherent to allow the compromise as it would otherwise disrupt the justice system procedure.
U/S 482/378/407 No. – 944 of 2020
DATE OF JUDGEMENT :
23 June 2021
Hon’ble Mr. Justice Narendra Kumar Johari
Smt. Khusbhu Chauhan and Others (Appellants)
State of Uttar Pradesh and Another (Respondents)
Whether a petition can be allowed when the dispute has been compromised by the parties?
A case was instituted in the Court by a husband and the wife approached the Court for quashing the criminal proceedings as the divorce case had been decided and a compromise had been made between the parties. The Court relied on several previous judgments of the Apex Court and allowed the petition stating that in case of offence with no grave effect on the society; the Court can quash the proceedings with the inherent powers. Though the powers are to be used sparingly, the Court has to look into the gravity and nature of the offence before proposing any alternative to solve the dispute. The matrimonial disputes with criminal proceedings were specifically dealt with in the case.
- Section 13-B of the Hindu Marriage Act, 1955: The provision mandates that when divorce is taken with mutual consent, the parties are given an 18 months composite period of separation for the parties to go for counselling and if there is a chance for reconciliation, this period would help the parties.
- Section 482 of the Criminal Procedure Code: This section provides that the inherent powers of the High Court would not be restricted under any provision of the Code and the Court would have the powers to pass any orders that are necessary for securing the ends of justice and preventing any abuse of powers by any Court. The power to supervise the proceedings of the lower courts also would fall under this Section.
- Sections 323 of the Indian Penal Code: This section provides for the punishment in case someone voluntarily causes hurt with exception to provisions provided in Section 334. The punishment includes imprisonment which may extend up to 1 year or fine up to Rs.1000 or both.
- Sections 379 of the Indian Penal Code: This section provides for imprisonment up to 3 years or fine or both in case of a person committing theft.
- Sections 504 of the Indian Penal Code: Any person intentionally insulting to provoke someone with the intention or knowledge that it would make the other person break public peace or commit any offence would be punished imprisonment up to 2 years or fine or both under this section.
- The petitioner and the complainant were married in the year 2011 but their relation got strained due to which the complainant had filed a complaint case under various Sections of the Indian Penal Code, i.e. 323, 379 and 504. (Shiv Dayal Singh v. Khushbu Singh and Ors.)
- The case was brought before the Court of Additional Chief Judicial Magistrate-II, Unnao and a summoning order was passed for the petitioner due to which the petitioner approached the High Court u/s 482 of CrPC.
- The Court, while deciding the case, referred to several judgments of a similar stature and held that when the parties have come to a compromise and the matrimonial dispute has been settled, there is no logic or point in continuing a litigation that arose out of the matrimonial dispute when both the parties are agreeing to quash the proceedings.
ARGUMENTS BY THE PETITIONERS
- The counsel for the petitioners submitted that there was matrimonial dispute between the husband and wife and the complainant had filed the complaint by exaggerating and false facts. A compromise between the parties had been made by the intervention of respectable persons of the society and they separated.
- Principal Judge passed the decree of divorce under Section 13-B of the Hindu Marriage Act and directions were issued for the Senior Registrar to verify the compromise decree which has been verified. (Smt. Khushbu Chauhan v. Shiv Dayal Singh)
ARGUMENTS BY THE RESPONDENT
- The counsel for the respondent submitted that the dispute was settled between the parties amicably and there is no grievance between the parties.
- The proceedings of the complaint case can be quashed with no objection from the husband considering the compromise and satisfaction of the husband.
ANALYSIS OF THE JUDGEMENT
- The Court while deciding the case has referred to several judgments by the Supreme Court and High Court of Allahabad on the scope and ambit of the powers conferred on the High Court for quashing criminal proceedings.
- The first case relied on was Dinesh Sharma and Ors. v. State of U.P. and Ors. which laid down the principle that in case of civil disputes between private parties and criminal matters with no grave effect, the Court can quash the proceedings on the basis of compromise. The judgment clarified that the Supreme Court has expressed its opinion on exercising the powers is for preventing abuse of the Court’s process. If the nature of offence is such that there is no grave social ramification and the dispute is more of a private matter then even non compoundable offences can be quashed.
- If the proceedings of a criminal suit, arising out of a matrimonial dispute is decided to be amicably settled, it would fall under the same class for attracting the jurisdiction of the Court. Several other litigations not arising out of matrimonial disputes also would fall under the same class and if the Court feels it would be for public interest, then the Court may quash the criminal or civil proceedings.
- If a compromise is arrived upon between the parties, then the victim might abstain from providing any evidence, and the proceedings would become a mere drill and nothing fruitful would come out of it. But there might be offences of grave nature and in that case, the Court does not encourage mediation or compromise between the parties.
- The second case relied upon by the Court was the case of B.S. Joshi and Ors. v. State of Haryana and Ors. in which the Apex Court discussed the principles for protection of ends of justice specifically in matrimonial disputes. The purpose of inserting Chapter XX-A, which contains Section 498-A, into the Indian Penal Code was to prevent a woman from being tortured by her husband or his relatives. Section 498-A was added to punish a husband and his relatives who abuse or torture the wife, in order to persuade her or her relatives to comply with dowry demands that are illegal. The hyper-technical viewpoint would be counterproductive, acting against women's interests and the purpose for which, this provision was added.
- The other cases which were relied upon were the cases of Najmul Hasan and Ors. v. State of U.P. and Ors. and Jitendra Raghuvanshi and Ors. v. Babita Raghuvanshi and Ors. where it was observed that in recent years, there has been an uptick in marriage disputes. The institution of marriage holds a significant place in society and plays an important role. As a result, every effort should be taken in the people' best interests in order to allow them to settle down in life and live in peace. In order to provide comprehensive justice in matrimonial situations, the courts should be less hesitant in exercising its extraordinary jurisdiction if the parties consider their defaults and resolve their disagreements amicably by mutual agreement rather than slugging it out in court.
- It is right to say that the power under Sec. 482 should be used sparingly and cautiously, and only when the court is certain, based on the evidence on file, that continuing the proceedings would be an abuse of the court's process or that the objectives of justice demand that the proceedings be quashed. In Shiji @ Pappu and Ors. v. Radhika and Ors., the Court examined the legal position in the event of a compromise in criminal cases where the dispute was private in nature and the continuation of the proceedings would be an abuse of the legal process, and the technicality should not be allowed to stand in the way of quashing criminal proceedings in this context.
- After being released from legal procedures, both parties, applicant No. 1 and opposing party No. 2, are free to live their lives as they see fit. In the current situation, the chances of ultimate conviction are also slim, therefore allowing criminal proceedings against the applicants is unlikely to serve any meaningful purpose. It could also be a waste of crucial court time. The Court therefore set aside the proceedings and allowed the petition.
In the modern day, when every now and then, people approach the Court and especially in matrimonial disputes, it is important that the Courts exercise their powers to encourage out of court settlements in cases that have even a slight chance of being resolved. The gravity of the offence and the circumstances need to be considered before encouraging such options but it requires proper thought of the Court for meeting the ends of justice and saving a holy union.
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