IN THE SUPREME COURT OF INDIA
Criminal Appeal No. 383 of 2003
Decided On: 13.03.2003
AppB.S. Joshi and Ors.
Responde State of Haryana and Anr.
Reported in: 2003(2)ACR1305(SC), AIR2003SC1386, 2003(1)ALD(Cri)842, 2003(2)ALT(Cri)60, 2003(5)ALT4(SC), (2003)3CALLT32(SC), 2003(2)CGLJ35, 2003CriLJ2028,
Code of Criminal Procedure, 1973 - Sections 320 and 482--Indian Penal Code, 1860--Section 498A and 406--Quashing of F.I.R.--Inherent powers of High Court--Matrimonial dispute--Wife lodging F.I.R. under Sections 498A and 406, I.P.C. against husband and other members of his family--Subsequently filing affidavit stating that F.I.R. was registered due to temperamental differences and implied imputations --And that the disputes with appellants finally settled and she and her husband have agreed for mutual divorce--And that on petition for mutual divorce, statements recorded--Whether F.I.R. should be quashed even though offences not compoundable in terms of Section 320, Cr. P.C.?--Held yes--It is to secure ends of justice--Judgment of High Court set aside--F.I.R. quashed.
Madhu Limayes case 1978 ACrR 78 (SC), does not lay down any general proposition limiting power of quashing the criminal proceedings or F.I.R. or complaint as vested in Section 482 of the Code or extraordinary power under Article 226 of the Constitution of India. Therefore, if for the purpose of securing the ends of justice, quashing of F.I.R. becomes necessary, Section 320, Cr. P.C. 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.
What would happen to the trial of the case where the wife does not support the imputations made in the F.I.R. of the type in question. As earlier noticed, now she has filed an affidavit that the F.I.R. was registered at her instance due to temperamental differences and implied imputations. There may be many reasons for not supporting the imputations. It may be either for the reason that she has resolved disputes with her husband and his other family members and as a result thereof, she has again started living with her husband with whom she earlier had differences or she has willingly parted company and is living happily on her own or has married someone else on earlier marriage having been dissolved by divorce on consent of parties or fails to support the prosecution on some other similar grounds. In such eventuality, there would almost be no chance of conviction. Would it then be proper to decline to exercise power of quashing on the ground that it would be permitting the parties to compound non-compoundable offences. Answer clearly has to be in negative. It would, however, be a different matter if the High Court on facts declines the prayer for quashing for any valid reasons including lack of bona fides.
While exercising inherent power of quashing under Section 482, Cr.P.C. it is for the High Court to take into consideration any special features which appear in a particular case to consider whether it is expedient and in the interest of justice to permit a prosecution to continue. Where, in the opinion of the Court chances of an ultimate conviction is bleak and, therefore, no useful purpose is likely to be served by allowing a criminal prosecution to continue, the Court may, while taking into consideration the special facts of a case, also quash the proceedings. The special features in such matrimonial matters are evident. It becomes the duty of the Court to encourage genuine settlements of matrimonial disputes.
The object of introducing Chapter XX-A containing Section 498A in the Indian Penal Code was to prevent the torture to a woman by her husband or by relatives of her husband. Section 498A was added with a view to punishing a husband and his relatives who harass or torture the wife to coerce her or her relatives to satisfy unlawful demands of dowry. The hyper-technical view would be counter productive and would act against interests of women and against the object for which this provision was added. There is every likelihood that non-exercise of inherent power to quash the proceedings to meet the ends of justice would prevent women for settling earlier. That is not the object of Chapter XX-A of Indian Penal Code. Hence the High Court in exercise of its inherent powers can quash criminal proceedings or F.I.R. or complaint and Section 320 of the Code does not limit or affect the powers under Section 482 of the Code.