Compoundable case can be quashed ?

IN THE SUPREME COURT OF INDIA CRIMINAL APPELLATE JURISDICTION
CRIMINAL APPEAL NO. 1619 OF 2008 @ S.L.P. (Crl.) NO.5265 of 2007

Manoj Sharma ..Appellant
State & Ors …Respondents

ALTAMAS KABIR,J.

1. Leave granted.

2. The question whether a First Information Report under Sections 420/468/471/34/120-B IPC can be quashed either under Section 482 of the Code of Criminal Procedure or under Article 226 of the Constitution, when the accused and the complainant have compromised and settled the 2 matter between themselves, is the question which arises for decision in this appeal.

3. The identical question fell for the consideration of this Court in the case of B.S. Joshi vs. State of Haryana,[2003 (4) SCC 675] wherein also the question arose as to whether criminal proceedings or a First Information Report or complaint filed under Section 498-A and 406 IPC by the wife could be quashed under Section 482 CrPC on account of the fact that the offences complained of were not compoundable under Section 320 of the Code.

The objection taken in the said case has also been raised by Mr. B.B. Singh, learned advocate for the respondent State.

4. In B.S. Joshi’s case, this Court drew a distinction between compounding an offence as permitted under Section 320 CrPC and quashing of the complaint or criminal proceedings under Section 482 CrPC as also Article 226 of the 3 Constitution. Pointing out that the appellant in the said case had not prayed for compounding the offence as the same was not compoundable, this Court observed with reference to the earlier decision in Pepsi Food Limited vs. Special Judicial Magistrate, [1998 (5) SCC 749], that where the Court will exercise jurisdiction under Section 482 of the Code could not be inflexible or rigid formulae to be followed by the Courts could not be laid down.

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Exercise of such power would depend upon the facts and circumstances of each case but with the sole object of preventing abuse of the process of any Court, or otherwise to secure the ends of justice. It was also observed that it is well settled that these powers have no bar, but the same was required to be exercised with utmost care and caution. Accordingly, the learned Judges held that the power of the High Court under Section 482 of the Code to quash Criminal proceedings or FIR or complaint were 4 not circumscribed by Section 320 of the Code of Criminal Procedure.

5. While the appellant herein strongly relied on the decision in B.S. Joshi’s case. Mr. B.B. Singh, learned counsel appearing for the respondent-State urged that having regard to the specific provision in the Code regarding compounding of offences, and indicating what offences may be compromised either with or without the leave of the Court, possibly the decision rendered in B.S. Joshi’s case required a second look. Relying on the decision of this Court in Inspector of Police, CBI vs. Rajagopal, [2002 (9) SCC 533], K.G. Prem Shankar vs. Inspector of Police and Anr. [JT 2002 (7) SC 30] and also Textile Labour and Anr. [JT 2004 (suppl.1) SC 1], Mr. Singh submitted that in B.S. Joshi’s case there was a departure from the view taken in the first of the two aforesaid cases.

6. We have carefully considered the submissions made on behalf of the respective parties and the facts involved in this case, and we are not inclined to accept Mr. Singh’s contention that the decision in B.S. Joshi’s case requires reconsideration, at least not in the facts of this case. What was decided in B.S. Joshi’s case was the power and authority of the High Court to exercise jurisdiction under Section 482 CrPC or under Article 226 of the Constitution to quash offences which are not compoundable. The law stated in the said case simply indicates the powers of the High Court to quash any criminal proceeding or First Information Report or complaint whether it be compoundable or not. The ultimate exercise of discretion under Section 482 CrPC or under Article 226 of the Constitution is with the Court which has to exercise such jurisdiction in the facts of each case. It has been explained that the said power is in no way limited by the provisions of Section 320 CrPC.

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We are unable to disagree with such statement of law. In any event, in this case, we are only required to consider whether the High Court had exercised its jurisdiction under Section 482 Cr.P.C. legally and correctly.

7. In view of the nature of the offences set out in the complaint, the High Court did not consider it an appropriate case for exercising its jurisdiction under Article 226 of the Constitution for quashing the same.

8. In our view, the High Court’s refusal to exercise its jurisdiction under Article 226 of the Constitution for quashing the criminal proceedings cannot be supported. The First Information Report, which had been lodged by the complainant indicates a dispute between the complainant and the accused which is of a private nature. It is no doubt true that the First Information Report was the basis of the investigation by the Police authorities, but 7 the dispute between the parties remained one of a personal nature. Once the complainant decided not to pursue the matter further, the High Court could have taken a more pragmatic view of the matter. We do not suggest that while exercising its powers under Article 226 of the Constitution the High Court could not have refused to quash the First Information Report, but what we do say is that the matter could have been considered by the High Court with greater pragmatism in the facts of the case. As we have indicated hereinbefore, the exercise of power under Section 482 Cr.P.C. or Article 226 of the Constitution is discretionary to be exercised in the facts of each case.

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9. In the facts of this case we are of the view that continuing with the criminal proceedings would be an exercise in futility.

10. We, accordingly, allow the appeal and set aside the order of the High Court and quash the criminal proceedings pending before the learned Additional Chief Metropolitan Magistrate, Karkardooma Court, Delhi, in FIR No.50 of 1997 dated 31st January, 1997 P.S. Vivek Vihar (East Delhi).

(ALTAMAS KABIR)
New Delhi Dated:October 16, 2008

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