Quash of compoundable offence Section 498A IPC

Bombay High Court

State Of Maharashtra
vs
Madhu Bhisham Bhatia And Ors.
on 16 February, 2004

JUDGMENT

P.B. Gaikwad, J.

1. State has filed appeal challenging the order passed by Metropolitan Magistrate 31st Court, Vikroli, Bombay dated 13th November, 1992 acquitting the accused for the offence punishable under Section 498-A of Indian Penal Code as the offence has been duly compounded. In the appeal I heard Shri D. P. Adsule, A.P.P. for State, Respondents though served remained absent. It is submitted by Shri Adsule, A.P.P. that the offence under Section 498-A is not compoundable, however, the Metropolitan Magistrate, 31st Court, Vikroli, Bombay allowed the parties to compound the matter and accordingly acquitted the accused relying on the issue laid down in 1992 Criminal Law Journal, page 2106.

2. The facts in brief leading to the present appeal are that the marriage of complainant Bhavna took place with accused No. 1 in January, 1987. After her marriage she started residing with her husband along with her brother-in-law accused No. 2, mother-in-law accused No. 3 and father-in-law accused No. 4. It is the allegation that accused Nos. 1 to 4 then started harassing, ill-treating, maltreating the complainant and used to demand foreign goods. It is alleged that in the month of July, 1992 the accused demanded the cash amount of Rs. 15000/- and wireless telephone. The complainant informed about the said unlawful demands to her parents, those who have managed to pay the amount of Rs. 15,000/- to the accused/respondent. However, even thereafter ill-treatment, harassment continued at the hands of accused to complainant, accordingly complaint was filed against accused Nos. 1 to 4 by the complainant on the basis of which Crime No. 198 of 1992 was registered at Pantnagar Police Station.

3. The Police after investigating the above crime submitted charge-sheet. On 13th November, 1992 the complainant filed an application for permission to compound the offence, A.P.P. objected to allow the said application on the ground that offence under Section 498-A is not compoundable, in view of Section 320 of Criminal Procedure Code the Metropolitan Magistrate, 31st Court, Vikroli, Bombay, however, after hearing the parties allowed the said application filed by complainant and allowed the parties to compound the said criminal case and accordingly after recording the compromise acquitted the accused, the said order has been finally challenged by the prosecution.

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4. Apparently on perusal of Section 498-A of Indian Penal Code and Section 320 of Criminal Procedure Code it is clear that offence under Section 498-A is not compoundable. Reference in respect is necessary to the application filed by the complainant to compound the case. According to her she lodged complaint against her husband, mother-in-law, father-in-law and brother-in-law on 23rd June, 1992 at Pantnagar Police Station. She further made clear in the application that presently she is residing with her husband and with other family members of her husband. It is clarified that the complaint was filed on account of some differences between her and her husband however, at present the dispute is settled and they are living happily, peacefully and therefore, she does not want to proceed against her husband and other family members, accordingly a request is made for permission to compound the said criminal case. Though the A.P.P. objected the Metropolitan Magistrate, 31st Court, Vikroli, Bombay has granted permission to Smt. Bhavna i.e. complainant for compounding the offence under Section 498-A of Indian Penal Code, as she is residing with her husband and other accused persons. The permission is granted considering her own welfare and welfare of accused persons and in view of the decisions 1992 Cri.L.J. 2106, Suresh Nathamal Rathi v. State of Maharashtra and Ors. A reference in this respect is necessary to 1992 Criminal Law Journal, page 2106, Suresh Nathamal Rathi v. State of Maharashtra and Ors. It is observed in the said Authority to the following effect:–

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“A duty is cast upon the Court in first instance, in matrimonial cases where it may appear that there may be chance of saving a marriage, to make ever endeavoured to bring about reconciliation between the parties. Both from the personal and social point of view, stability of marriage has certain value, the duty is imposed on every Court to the Supreme Court.” It is further observed in the said authority to the following effect:–

“While granting permission to compound the offence, particularly under Section 498-A of Indian Penal Code, peculiar and special circumstances are to be considered and if considering the special and peculiar circumstances, if the trial Court is satisfied, then only parties in the matrimonial cases, keeping in mind the interest of the couple and its impart on the Society.”

A reference is also necessary to one another authority, viz. Judgment 2003(3) SC 277, B. S. Joshi and Ors. v. State of Haryana and Anr.

Section 498-A and 406 of Indian Penal Code – Quashing of criminal proceedings – Scope of the inherent powers of the High Court -Matrimonial discord – wife filing criminal complaint against husband under Section 498-A and 406 of Indian Penal Code – Subsequent settlement of disputes and differences between the couple and both agreeing for mutual divorce and filing petition accordingly – Wife thereupon filing petition praying for quashing of the FIR – State however opposing the petition – High Court dismissing the petition holding that since the offences under Sections 498-A and 406 of Indian Penal Code are compoundable, the inherent powers of the Court under Section 482 of the Code cannot be invoked to by-pass the mandatory provisions of Section 320 of the Code — whether the High Court justified in refusing to exercise its power to quash the proceedings. Allowing the appeal held that if for the purposes of securing the ends of justice, quashing of FIR becomes necessary, Section 320 would not be a bar to the exercise of the power of quashing. The Court has a duty to encourage genuine settlements of matrimonial disputes. Where chance of an ultimate conviction is bleak, the Court while taking into consideration the special facts of a case can quash the criminal proceedings. Any hyper-technical view on the provisions of Section 498-A would be counter productive and act against the interests of women and against the object for which the provision was enacted.”

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5. Thus in view of the ratio laid down in the above authorities considering the factual aspects in the present case as the application to compound the above criminal case is filed by the wife herself contending that presently she is residing with her husband and other family members including father-in-law, mother-in-law and brother-in-law and that whatever differences between the parties has now settled and considering this above aspect the Metropolitan Magistrate, 31st Court, Vikroli, Bombay has allowed the application and granted permission to compound the matter. Thus I find that it is in the interest of a woman and it is further seen the settlement between the parties being genuine so far as regarding their matrimonial dispute is concerned and in view of this position I find that the appeal filed by the State deserves to be dismissed.

In the result appeal is dismissed.

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