DAXABEN Versus THE STATE OF GUJARAT & ORS.

DAXABEN Versus THE STATE OF GUJARAT & ORS.


Landmark Cases of India / सुप्रीम कोर्ट के ऐतिहासिक फैसले


REPORTABLE
IN THE SUPREME COURT OF INDIA
CRIMINAL APPELLATE JURISDICTION
CRIMINAL APPEAL No. ………….. OF 2022
(Arising out of SLP (Crl.) No.1132-1155 of 2022)
DAXABEN ….Appellant
Versus
THE STATE OF GUJARAT & ORS. ….Respondents
J U D G M E N T
Indira Banerjee, J.
Leave granted.
2. These Appeals are against the impugned final judgment and
order dated 20th October 2020 passed by the High Court of Gujarat at
Ahmedabad allowing the Criminal Revisional Applications under
Section 482 of the Code of Criminal Procedure 1973 (Cr.P.C), being
R/Criminal Misc. Application Nos. 5026 of 2020, 5600 of 2020, 5107 of
2020, 5004 of 2020, 5108 of 2020, 5165 of 2020, 5159 of 2020, 5161
of 2020, 5524 of 2020, 5166 of 2020, 5162 of 2020, 5739 of 2020 and
quashing the FIR being C.R. No. I-11209016200112 dated 1st March
1
2020 registered with Himmatnagar ‘A’ Division Police Station, District
Sabarkantha, and also the order dated 29th July 2021 passed by the
High Court dismissing the Criminal Miscellaneous Applications filed by
the Appellant, registered as R/Criminal Misc. Application Nos. 10845
of 2021, 10846 of 2021, 10847 of 2021, 10848 of 2021, 10849 of
2021, 10850 of 2021, 10851 of 2021, 10852 of 2021, 10853 of 2021,
10855 of 2021, 10856 of 2021, 10858 of 2021 for recalling the said
common final order dated 20th October 2020.
3. The Appellant is the wife of late Shaileshkumar Chimanbhai
Patel, hereinafter referred to as the “deceased”, who is stated to have
committed suicide on 1st March 2020 by consuming poison in his
office.
4. One Pinakin Kantibhai Patel, claiming to be a cousin of the
deceased, as also an Accountant working for the deceased, lodged an
FIR being C.R. No. I-11209016200112 dated 1st March 2020 with
Himmatnagar Police Station, District Sabarkantha, naming 12 accused
persons, being the applicants in the Criminal Miscellaneous
Applications in the High Court under Section 482 of the CrPC,
referred to above, alleging that they had committed offence under
Section 306 of the Indian Penal Code, 1860 (IPC) of abetting the
commission of suicide by the deceased.
5. As per the FIR, the deceased left a hand-written note, the
contents whereof are as hereunder:-
2
“With due respect, I am to state that I, Shaileshkumar Chimanlal
Patel, Proprietor of Jigar Transport, state that I have been cheated.
The names and statement are as under
1. As per the instructions of Anil Mathur, I have paid amounts as
under: Anil Mathur, RTO, Jodhpur, Service Ratanpur RTO Check
Post, Anil Mathur, Rs.600000/-, Pramod Dadhichi Rs.10,00,000/-,
Sunil Mathur, Rs.300000/-, Niharika Mathur Rs.800000/-, Malvika
Mathur Rs.300000/-, Niru Mathur Rs.700000/-, Dolly Mathur
Rs.300000/-. The accounts of above amounts are not cleared and
they have not returned the amounts.
2. Karni Bhavarsha serving in RTO, Mandar Border, and Rajkuar G.
serving in RTO had launched company and amount is given in
their RP Powertech company and total amount comes to
Rs.3723200/-.
3. Vijaysinh Bhati who has committed most cheating and fraud
with me. I am in credit of Rs.14700000 (Rupees one crore forty
seven lakhs only). From this person. I am also in credit of
Rs.1,50,000/- from Chandravirsinh Bhati and in credit of
Rs.10,00,000 from Padam Bhati. They have taken my CRETA car
bearing RT No.6797 and they are not giving my car back. It is
requested to do needful.”
6. The FIR records :-
“There is signature in English. The name Patel Shaileshkumar
Chimanlal is written in gujarati under the signature. The names of
Padam Bhati, Chandravirsinh Bhati, Dolly Mathur, Niru Mathur,
Malvika Mathur, Niharika Mathur, Sunil Mathur, Pramod Dadhichi,
Anil Mathur, PK Powertech, Kamalpal Mineral Pvt. Ltd., Leena
Computerized Ledger Statements are affixed with staple pin.
These words are written in the handwriting of Shaileshkumar. I
know the handwriting. I had given this chit to Apurvabhai in the
office. He had read over the said chit. He told me that this is
suicide note of Shaileshkumar.
The name Pramod Dhidhasi is written in the suicide note but the
real name is Pramod Dadhichi. That money was given to all
persons through Bank except Vijaysinh. Kamalpal Minerals Pvt.
Limited of Vijaysinh was given Rs.18,52,000/.”
7. In the FIR, it was alleged that the deceased had been making
phone calls to the accused persons calling upon them to return his
money, but they did not do so. The accused had cheated the
3
deceased of Rs.2,35,73,200/-. The deceased was in acute financial
crunch and, therefore, constrained to take his own life.
8. Section 306 of the IPC reads:
“306. Abetment of suicide. -If any person commits suicide,
whoever abets the commission of such suicide, shall be punished
with imprisonment of either description for a term which may
extend to ten years, and shall also be liable to fine.”
9. As argued by Ms. Shenoy, learned Senior Counsel appearing on
behalf of the Respondents, what is required to constitute alleged
abetment of suicide under Section 306 of the IPC is that there must
be an allegation of either direct or indirect act of incitement to the
commission of the offence of suicide.
10. Ms. Shenoy cited M. Arjunan v. State, Represented by its
Inspector of Police
1
, where this Court held:-
"7. The essential ingredients of the offence under Section 306 IPC
are: (i) the abetment; (ii) the intention of the accused to aid or
instigate or abet the deceased to commit suicide. The act of the
accused, however, insulting the deceased by using abusive
language will not, by itself, constitute the abetment of suicide.
There should be evidence capable of suggesting that the accused
intended by such act to instigate the deceased to commit suicide.
Unless the ingredients of instigation/abetment to commit suicide
are satisfied the accused cannot be convicted under Section 306
IPC."
11. Ms. Shenoy also cited Ude Singh & Ors. v. State of
Haryana
2
, where this Court held:
16. In cases of alleged abetment of suicide, there must be a proof
of direct or indirect act(s) of incitement to the commission of
suicide. It could hardly be disputed that the question of cause of a
suicide, particularly in the context of an offence of abetment of
suicide, remains a vexed one, involving multifaceted and complex
1 (2019) 3 SCC 315
2 (2019) 17 SCC 301
4
attributes of human behaviour and responses/reactions. In the
case of accusation for abetment of suicide, the Court would be
looking for cogent and convincing proof of the act(s) of incitement
to the commission of suicide. In the case of suicide, mere
allegation of harassment of the deceased by another person
would not suffice unless there be such action on the part of the
accused which compels the person to commit suicide; and such
an offending action ought to be proximate to the time of
occurrence. Whether a person has abetted in the commission of
suicide by another or not, could only be gathered from the facts
and circumstances of each case.
16.1. For the purpose of finding out if a person has abetted
commission of suicide by another, the consideration would be if
the accused is guilty of the act of instigation of the act of suicide.
As explained and reiterated by this Court in the decisions abovereferred, instigation means to goad, urge forward, provoke, incite
or encourage to do an act. If the persons who committed suicide
had been hypersensitive and the action of accused is otherwise
not ordinarily expected to induce a similarly circumstanced
person to commit suicide, it may not be safe to hold the accused
guilty of abetment of suicide. But, on the other hand, if the
accused by his acts and by his continuous course of conduct
creates a situation which leads the deceased perceiving no other
option except to commit suicide, the case may fall within the four
corners of Section 306 IPC. If the accused plays an active role in
tarnishing the self-esteem and self-respect of the victim, which
eventually draws the victim to commit suicide, the accused may
be held guilty of abetment of suicide. The question of mens rea
on the part of the accused in such cases would be examined with
reference to the actual acts and deeds of the accused and if the
acts and deeds are only of such nature where the accused
intended nothing more than harassment or snap show of anger, a
particular case may fall short of the offence of abetment of
suicide. However, if the accused kept on irritating or annoying the
deceased by words or deeds until the deceased reacted or was
provoked, a particular case may be that of abetment of suicide.
Such being the matter of delicate analysis of human behaviour,
each case is required to be examined on its own facts, while
taking note of all the surrounding factors having bearing on the
actions and psyche of the accused and the deceased."
12. Ms. Shenoy referred to Ramesh Kumar v. State of
Chhatisgarh
3
, where this Court defined ‘instigate’ as under:-
“Instigation is to goad, urge forward, provoke, incite or encourage
to do an act.”
3 (2001) 9 SCC 618
5
13. In S.S. Chheena v. Vijay Kumar Mahajan and Another.
4
,
cited on behalf of the Respondent, this Court observed:-
"25. Abetment involves a mental process of instigating a person
or intentionally aiding a person in doing of a thing. Without a
positive act on the part of the accused to instigate or aid in
committing suicide, conviction cannot be sustained. The intention
of the legislature and the ratio of the cases decided by this Court
is clear that in order to convict a person under Section 306 IPC
there has to be a clear mens rea to commit the offence. It also
requires an active act or direct act which led the deceased to
commit suicide seeing no option and that act must have been
intended to push the deceased into such a position that he
committed suicide."
14. The proposition of law enunciated and/or re-enunciated in the
judgments cited above are well settled. Whether the acts alleged
would constitute an offence, would depend upon the facts and
circumstances of the case. Each case has to be judged on its own
merits.
15. In this case, however, it appears that the High Court did not
even address to itself, the question of whether the allegations in the
FIR constituted an offence under Section 306 IPC or not. The FIR was
quashed in view of a settlement between the accused named in the
FIR and the complainant.
16. It is not necessary for this Court to go into the question of
whether there was any direct or indirect act of incitement to the
offence of abetment of suicide, since the High Court has not gone into
that question. Suffice it to mention that even an indirect act of
incitement to the commission of suicide would constitute the offence
of abetment of suicide under Section 306 of the IPC.
4 (2010) 12 SCC 190
6
17. In Court, it was submitted that the parties had amicably
resolved their disputes. In support of such submission, affidavits of
Settlement of Disputes, signed by the complainant and other family
members of the deceased were placed on record.
18. The High Court held:
“9. Since now, the dispute with reference to the impugned FIR is
settled and resolved by and between parties which is confirmed
by the original complainant through their learned advocate, the
trial would be futile and any further continuation of proceedings
would amount to abuse of process of law. Therefore, the
impugned FIR is required to be quashed and set aside.
10. Resultantly, the applications are allowed. The impugned FIR
being No. C.R.No. I-11209016200112 of 2020 registered with
Himmatnagar ‘A’ Division Police Station, District Sabarkantha and
all other consequential proceedings arising out of said FIR are
hereby quashed and set aside qua the applicants.”
19. By the common order dated 29th July 2021, also impugned in
these appeals, the prayer of the Appellant for recalling the order
dated 20th October 2020 was declined. The High Court held:-
“22. …However, as discussed herein above, this Court has passed
an order dated 20.10.2020 after considering the settlement
arrived at between the original first informant, who is cousin
brother of the deceased and was working as an Accountant of the
firm of the deceased. Further, investigating agency has verified
about the genuineness of the settlement arrived at between the
parties. It is not in dispute that the present applicant is a third
party – as stated in Paragraph No.1 of the application and, hence,
so far as the FIR in question is concerned, she is merely a witness
in the FIR. Therefore, when this Court has passed an order after
giving an opportunity of hearing, the original first informant –
cousin brother of the deceased, the order dated 20.10.2020
passed by this Court is not required to be recalled while exercising
power under Section 482 of the Code.
23. At this stage, it is once again required to be noted that the
applicant has stated in the memo of application at Page No.9 that
the respondent No.3 – original first informant has pocketed hefty
amount from an individual original accused and is totally out of
picture post allowing of the quashing petition and is not in contact
7
with the present applicant. Thus, it appears that after settling the
dispute by the respondent No.3 – original first informant with the
original accused, he has not given/paid the said amount to the
applicant, however, for the reasons, it is always open for the
applicant to file appropriate proceeding against the respondent
No.3 – original first informant. Therefore, the present application,
which is filed for recalling the order, is not maintainable, and in
the facts of the present case, this Court is not inclined to exercise
the powers under Section 482 of the Code for recalling of the
order dated 20.10.2020.
24. In view of the aforesaid discussion, all these applications are
dismissed.”
20. In the aforesaid judgment, the High Court referred to an order
dated 6th December 2019 passed by a three Judge Bench of this Court
in Crl. Appeal No.1852 of 2019 (New India Assurance Co. Ltd. v.
Krishna Kumar Pandey
5
) where this Court held that in a revision
arising out of conviction, the High Court could not have sealed the
right of the employer to take disciplinary action against the accused
for misconduct in accordance with the Service Rules.
21. In Krishna Kumar Pandey (supra) this Court referred with
approval, to the judgment of this Court in State of Punjab v.
Davinder Pal Singh Bhullar and Ors.
6
 where this Court held that
the High Court was not denuded of inherent power to recall a
judgment and/or order which was without jurisdiction, or in violation
of principles of natural justice, or passed without giving an
opportunity of hearing to a party affected by the order or where an
order was obtained by abusing the process of Court which would
5 2019 SCC Online 1786
6 (2011) 14 SCC 770
8
really amount to its being without jurisdiction. Inherent powers can
be exercised to recall such orders.
22. The High Court rightly found, in effect, that it had the inherent
power to recall a judgment and/or order which was without
jurisdiction or a judgment and/or order passed without hearing a
person prejudicially affected by the judgment and/or order. The High
Court, however, fell in error in not recalling the order dated 20th
October 2020. The High Court did not address to itself, the question
of whether it had jurisdiction to quash a criminal complaint under
Section 306 of the IPC, which is a grave non-compoundable offence,
entailing imprisonment of ten years, on the basis of a settlement
between the parties.
23. The High Court erred in declining the prayer of the Appellant for
recalling its order dated 20th October 2020, passed without hearing
the wife of the deceased only because the original
informant/complainant, a cousin brother and an employee of the
deceased had been heard. Hearing a cousin-cum-employee of the
deceased cannot and does not dispense with the requirement to give
the wife of the deceased a hearing. The wife of the deceased would
have greater interest than cousins and employees in prosecuting
accused persons charged with the offence of abetting the suicide of
her husband.
9
24. Be that as it may, since the initial order dated 20th October
2020 is also under challenge in these appeals, it is really not
necessary for this Court to delve deeper into the question of whether
a final order passed under Section 482 of the Cr.P.C. quashing an FIR
could have, at all, been recalled by the High Court, in the absence of
any specific provision in the Cr.P.C. for recall and/or review of such
order. The High Court has, in effect, held that in exceptional
circumstances, such orders can be recalled, in exercise of the
inherent power of the High Court, to prevent injustice.
25. The only question in this appeal is whether the Criminal
Miscellaneous Applications filed by the accused under Section 482 of
the Cr.P.C. could have been allowed and an FIR under Section 306 of
the IPC for abetment to commit suicide, entailing punishment of
imprisonment of ten years, could have been quashed on the basis of
a settlement between the complainant and the accused named in the
FIR. The answer to the aforesaid question cannot, but be in the
negative.
26. Section 482 of the Cr.P.C provides :—
“482. Saving of inherent powers of High Court.—Nothing in this
Code shall be deemed to limit or affect the inherent powers of the
High Court to make such orders as may be necessary to give
effect to any order under this Code, or to prevent abuse of the
process of any Court or otherwise to secure the ends of justice.”
27. Even though, the inherent power of the High Court under
Section 482 of the Cr.P.C., to interfere with criminal proceedings is
10
wide, such power has to be exercised with circumspection, in
exceptional cases. Jurisdiction under Section 482 of the Cr.P.C is not to
be exercised for the asking.
28. In Monica Kumar (Dr.) v. State of U.P.
7
, this Court held that
inherent jurisdiction under Section 482 of the Cr.P.C has to be
exercised sparingly, carefully and with caution and only when such
exercise is justified by the tests specifically laid down in the section
itself.
29. In exceptional cases, to prevent abuse of the process of the
Court, the High Court might in exercise of its inherent powers under
Section 482 quash criminal proceedings. However, interference would
only be justified when the complaint did not disclose any offence, or
was patently frivolous, vexatious or oppressive, as held by this Court
in Mrs. Dhanalakshmi v. R. Prasanna Kumar
8
.
30. In Municipal Corporation of Delhi v. Ram Kishan Rohtagi
and Others.
9
, a three-Judge Bench of this Court held:
“6. It may be noticed that Section 482 of the present Code is the
ad verbatim copy of Section 561-A of the old Code. This provision
confers a separate and independent power on the High Court
alone to pass orders ex debito justitiae in cases where grave and
substantial injustice has been done or where the process of the
court has been seriously abused. It is not merely a revisional
power meant to be exercised against the orders passed by
subordinate courts. It was under this section that in the old Code,
the High Courts used to quash the proceedings or expunge
uncalled for remarks against witnesses or other persons or
subordinate courts. Thus, the scope, ambit and range of Section
561-A (which is now Section 482) is quite different from the
powers conferred by the present Code under the provisions of
7 (2008) 8 SCC 781
8 AIR 1990 SC 494 : 1990 Supp SCC 686
9 (1983) 1 SCC 1
11
Section 397. It may be that in some cases there may be
overlapping but such cases would be few and far between. It is
well settled that the inherent powers under Section 482 of the
present Code can be exercised only when no other remedy is
available to the litigant and not where a specific remedy is
provided by the statute. Further, the power being an
extraordinary one, it has to be exercised sparingly. If these
considerations are kept in mind, there will be no inconsistency
between Sections 482 and 397(2) of the present Code.
7. The limits of the power under Section 482 were clearly defined
by this Court in Raj Kapoor v. State [(1980) 1 SCC 43 : 1980 SCC
(Cri) 72] where Krishna Iyer, J. observed as follows : [SCC para 10,
p. 47 : SCC (Cri) p. 76]
“Even so, a general principle pervades this branch of law
when a specific provision is made : easy resort to inherent
power is not right except under compelling circumstances.
Not that there is absence of jurisdiction but that inherent
power should not invade areas set apart for specific power
under the same Code.”
8. Another important consideration which is to be kept in mind is
as to when the High Court acting under the provisions of Section
482 should exercise the inherent power insofar as quashing of
criminal proceedings are concerned. This matter was gone into in
greater detail in Smt. Nagawwa v. Veeranna Shivalingappa
Konjalgi [(1976) 3 SCC 736 : 1976 SCC (Cri) 507 : 1976 Supp SCR
123 : 1976 Cri LJ 1533] where the scope of Sections 202 and 204
of the present Code was considered and while laying down the
guidelines and the grounds on which proceedings could be
quashed this Court observed as follows : [SCC para 5, p. 741 :
SCC (Cri) pp. 511-12]
“Thus it may be safely held that in the following cases an
order of the Magistrate issuing process against the accused
can be quashed or set aside:
(1) where the allegations made in the complaint or the
statements of the witnesses recorded in support of the same
taken at their face value make out absolutely no case
against the accused or the complaint does not disclose the
essential ingredients of an offence which is alleged against
the accused;
(2) where the allegations made in the complaint are patently
absurd and inherently improbable so that no prudent person
can ever reach a conclusion that there is sufficient ground
for proceeding against the accused;
(3) where the discretion exercised by the Magistrate in
issuing process is capricious and arbitrary having been
based either on no evidence or on materials which are
wholly irrelevant or inadmissible; and
12
(4) where the complaint suffers from fundamental legal
defects, such as, want of sanction, or absence of a complaint
by legally competent authority and the like.
The cases mentioned by us are purely illustrative and
provide sufficient guidelines to indicate contingencies where
the High Court can quash proceedings.”
9. Same view was taken in a later decision of this Court in Sharda
Prasad Sinha v. State of Bihar [(1977) 1 SCC 505 : 1977 SCC (Cri)
132 : (1977) 2 SCR 357 : 1977 Cri LJ 1146] where Bhagwati, J.
speaking for the Court observed as follows : [SCC para 2, p. 506 :
SCC (Cri) p. 133]
“It is now settled law that where the allegations set out in
the complaint or the charge-sheet do not constitute any
offence, it is competent to the High Court exercising its
inherent jurisdiction under Section 482 of the Code of
Criminal Procedure to quash the order passed by the
Magistrate taking cognizance of the offence.
10. It is, therefore, manifestly clear that proceedings against an
accused in the initial stages can be quashed only if on the face of
the complaint or the papers accompanying the same, no offence
is constituted. In other words, the test is that taking the
allegations and the complaint as they are, without adding or
subtracting anything, if no offence is made out then the High
Court will be justified in quashing the proceedings in exercise of
its powers under Section 482 of the present Code.”
31. As held by this Court in State of Andhra
Pradesh v. Gourieshetty Mahesh
10
, the High Court, while
exercising jurisdiction under Section 482 of the Cr.P.C, would not
ordinarily embark upon an enquiry into whether the evidence is
reliable or not or whether there is reasonable possibility that the
accusation would not be sustained.
32. In Paramjeet Batra v. State of Uttrakhand
11
, this Court
held:—
“12. While exercising its jurisdiction under Section 482 of the
Code the High Court has to be cautious. This power is to be used
sparingly and only for the purpose of preventing abuse of the
10 (2010) 11 SCC 226
11 (2013) 11 SCC 673
13
process of any court or otherwise to secure ends of justice.
Whether a complaint discloses a criminal offence or not depends
upon the nature of facts alleged therein. Whether essential
ingredients of criminal offence are present or not has to be judged
by the High Court. …”
33. In Madhavrao Jiwajirao Scindia v. Sambhajirao
Chandrojirao Angre
12
, a three-Judge Bench of this Court
summarized the law with regard to quashing of criminal proceedings
under Section 482 of the Cr.P.C. This Court held:—
“7. The legal position is well settled that when a prosecution at
the initial stage is asked to be quashed, the test to be applied by
the court is as to whether the uncontroverted allegations as made
prima facie establish the offence. It is also for the 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. This is so
on the basis that the court cannot be utilised for any oblique
purpose and where in the opinion of the court chances of an
ultimate conviction are 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 proceeding even though it may be at a
preliminary stage.”
34. In Inder Mohan Goswami v. State of Uttaranchal
13
, this
Court observed:—
“46. The court must ensure that criminal prosecution is not used
as an instrument of harassment or for seeking private vendetta or
with an ulterior motive to pressurise the accused. On analysis of
the aforementioned cases, we are of the opinion that it is neither
possible nor desirable to lay down an inflexible rule that would
govern the exercise of inherent jurisdiction. Inherent jurisdiction
of the High Courts under Section 482 CrPC though wide has to be
exercised sparingly, carefully and with caution and only when it is
justified by the tests specifically laid down in the statute itself and
in the aforementioned cases. In view of the settled legal position,
the impugned judgment cannot be sustained.”
12 (1988) 1 SCC 692
13 (2007) 12 SCC 1
14
35. It is a well settled proposition of law that criminal prosecution, if
otherwise justified, is not vitiated on account of malafides or
vendetta. As said by Krishna Iyer, J. in State of Punjab v. Gurdial
Singh
14
 “if the use of the power for the fulfilment of a legitimate
object the actuation or catalysation by malice is not legicidal.”
36. In Kapil Agarwal & Ors. v. Sanjay Sharma & Others
15
, this
Court observed that Section 482 of the Cr.P.C. is designed to achieve
the purpose of ensuring that criminal proceedings are not permitted
to degenerate into weapons of harassment.
37. Offence under Section 306 of the IPC of abetment to commit
suicide is a grave, non-compoundable offence. Of course, the
inherent power of the High Court under Section 482 of the Cr.P.C. is
wide and can even be exercised to quash criminal proceedings
relating to non-compoundable offences, to secure the ends of justice
or to prevent abuse of the process of Court. Where the victim and
offender have compromised disputes essentially civil and personal in
nature, the High Court can exercise its power under Section 482 of
the CrPC to quash the criminal proceedings. In what cases power to
quash an FIR or a criminal complaint or criminal proceedings upon
compromise can be exercised, would depend on the facts and
circumstances of the case.
14 (1980) 2 SCC 471
15 (2021) 5 SCC 524
15
38. However, before exercising its power under Section 482 of the
Cr.P.C. to quash an FIR, criminal complaint and/or criminal
proceedings, the High Court, as observed above, has to be
circumspect and have due regard to the nature and gravity of the
offence. Heinous or serious crimes, which are not private in nature
and have a serious impact on society cannot be quashed on the basis
of a compromise between the offender and the complainant and/or
the victim. Crimes like murder, rape, burglary, dacoity and even
abetment to commit suicide are neither private nor civil in nature.
Such crimes are against the society. In no circumstances can
prosecution be quashed on compromise, when the offence is serious
and grave and falls within the ambit of crime against society.
39. Orders quashing FIRs and/or complaints relating to grave and
serious offences only on basis of an agreement with the complainant,
would set a dangerous precedent, where complaints would be lodged
for oblique reasons, with a view to extract money from the accused.
Furthermore, financially strong offenders would go scot free, even in
cases of grave and serious offences such as murder, rape, brideburning, etc. by buying off informants/complainants and settling with
them. This would render otiose provisions such as Sections 306, 498-
A, 304-B etc. incorporated in the IPC as a deterrent, with a specific
social purpose.
40. In Criminal Jurisprudence, the position of the complainant is
only that of the informant. Once an FIR and/or criminal complaint is
16
lodged and a criminal case is started by the State, it becomes a
matter between the State and the accused. The State has a duty to
ensure that law and order is maintained in society. It is for the state
to prosecute offenders. In case of grave and serious noncompoundable offences which impact society, the informant and/or
complainant only has the right of hearing, to the extent of ensuring
that justice is done by conviction and punishment of the offender. An
informant has no right in law to withdraw the complaint of a noncompoundable offence of a grave, serious and/or heinous nature,
which impacts society.
41. In Gian Singh v. State of Punjab
16
, this Court discussed the
circumstances in which the High Court quashes criminal proceedings
in case of a non-compoundable offence, when there is a settlement
between the parties and enunciated the following principles:-
“58. Where the High Court quashes a criminal proceeding having
regard to the fact that the dispute between the offender and the
victim has been settled although the offences are not
compoundable, it does so as in its opinion, continuation of
criminal proceedings will be an exercise in futility and justice in
the case demands that the dispute between the parties is put to
an end and peace is restored; securing the ends of justice being
the ultimate guiding factor. No doubt, crimes are acts which have
harmful effect on the public and consist in wrongdoing that
seriously endangers and threatens the well-being of the society
and it is not safe to leave the crime-doer only because he and the
victim have settled the dispute amicably or that the victim has
been paid compensation, yet certain crimes have been made
compoundable in law, with or without the permission of the court.
In respect of serious offences like murder, rape, dacoity, etc., or
other offences of mental depravity under IPC or offences of moral
turpitude under special statutes, like the Prevention of Corruption
Act or the offences committed by public servants while working in
that capacity, the settlement between the offender and the victim
can have no legal sanction at all. However, certain offences which
overwhelmingly and predominantly bear civil flavour having
16 (2012) 10 SCC 303
17
arisen out of civil, mercantile, commercial, financial, partnership
or such like transactions or the offences arising out of matrimony,
particularly relating to dowry, etc. or the family dispute, where
the wrong is basically to the victim and the offender and the
victim have settled all disputes between them amicably,
irrespective of the fact that such offences have not been made
compoundable, the High Court may within the framework of its
inherent power, quash the criminal proceeding or criminal
complaint or FIR if it is satisfied that on the face of such
settlement, there is hardly any likelihood of the offender being
convicted and by not quashing the criminal proceedings, justice
shall be casualty and ends of justice shall be defeated. The above
list is illustrative and not exhaustive. Each case will depend on its
own facts and no hard-and-fast category can be prescribed”.
42. In Narinder Singh v. State of Punjab
17
, this Court held that
in case of heinous and serious offences, which are generally to be
treated as crime against society, it is the duty of the State to punish
the offender. Hence, even when there is a settlement, the view of the
offender and victim will not prevail since it is in the interest of society
that the offender should be punished to deter others from committing
a similar crime.
43. In State of Maharashtra v. Vikram Anantrai Doshi
18
, this
Court held:-
“26. ... availing of money from a nationalised bank in the
manner, as alleged by the investigating agency, vividly exposits
fiscal impurity and, in a way, financial fraud. The modus operandi
as narrated in the charge-sheet cannot be put in the
compartment of an individual or personal wrong. It is a social
wrong and it has immense societal impact. It is an accepted
principle of handling of finance that whenever there is
manipulation and cleverly conceived contrivance to avail of these
kinds of benefits it cannot be regarded as a case having
overwhelmingly and predominatingly civil character. The ultimate
victim is the collective. It creates a hazard in the financial interest
of the society. The gravity of the offence creates a dent in the
economic spine of the nation. ...”
17 (2014) 9 SCC 466
18 (2014) 15 SC 29
18
44. In CBI v. Maninder Singh
19
, this Court held:-
“17. … In economic offences the Court must not only keep in view
that money has been paid to the bank which has been defrauded
but also the society at large. It is not a case of simple assault or a
theft of a trivial amount; but the offence with which we are
concerned was well planned and was committed with a deliberate
design with an eye on personal profit regardless of consequence
to the society at large. To quash the proceeding merely on the
ground that the accused has settled the amount with the bank
would be a misplaced sympathy. If the prosecution against the
economic offenders are not allowed to continue, the entire
community is aggrieved.”
45. In State of Tamil Nadu v. R. Vasanthi Stanley
20
, this Court
held:-
“14. … Lack of awareness, knowledge or intent is neither to be
considered nor accepted in economic offences. The submission
assiduously presented on gender leaves us unimpressed. An
offence under the criminal law is an offence and it does not
depend upon the gender of an accused. True it is, there are
certain provisions in CrPC relating to exercise of jurisdiction under
Section 437, etc. therein but that altogether pertains to a
different sphere. A person committing a murder or getting
involved in a financial scam or forgery of documents, cannot
claim discharge or acquittal on the ground of her gender as that is
neither constitutionally nor statutorily a valid argument. The
offence is gender neutral in this case. We say no more on this
score.
15. … A grave criminal offence or serious economic offence or for
that matter the offence that has the potentiality to create a dent
in the financial health of the institutions, is not to be quashed on
the ground that there is delay in trial or the principle that when
the matter has been settled it should be quashed to avoid the
load on the system. …”
46. In Parbatbhai Aahir Alias Parbathbhai Bhimsinhbhai
Karmur and Others v. State of Gujrat and Another
21
, a threeJudge Bench of this Court quoted Narinder Singh (supra), Vikram
19 (2016) 1 SCC 389
20 (2016) 1 SCC 376
21(2017) 9 SCC 641
19
Anantrai Doshi (supra), CBI v. Maninder Singh (supra), R.
Vasanthi Stanley (supra) and held:-
“16. The broad principles which emerge from the precedents on
the subject, may be summarised in the following propositions:
16.1. Section 482 preserves the inherent powers of the High
Court to prevent an abuse of the process of any court or to
secure the ends of justice. The provision does not confer new
powers. It only recognises and preserves powers which inhere
in the High Court.
16.2. The invocation of the jurisdiction of the High Court to
quash a first information report or a criminal proceeding on the
ground that a settlement has been arrived at between the
offender and the victim is not the same as the invocation of
jurisdiction for the purpose of compounding an offence. While
compounding an offence, the power of the court is governed by
the provisions of Section 320 of the Code of Criminal
Procedure, 1973. The power to quash under Section 482 is
attracted even if the offence is non-compoundable.
16.3. In forming an opinion whether a criminal proceeding or
complaint should be quashed in exercise of its jurisdiction
under Section 482, the High Court must evaluate whether the
ends of justice would justify the exercise of the inherent power.
16.4. While the inherent power of the High Court has a wide
ambit and plenitude it has to be exercised (i) to secure the
ends of justice, or (ii) to prevent an abuse of the process of any
court.
16.5. The decision as to whether a complaint or first
information report should be quashed on the ground that the
offender and victim have settled the dispute, revolves
ultimately on the facts and circumstances of each case and no
exhaustive elaboration of principles can be formulated.
16.6. In the exercise of the power under Section 482 and while
dealing with a plea that the dispute has been settled, the High
Court must have due regard to the nature and gravity of the
offence. Heinous and serious offences involving mental
depravity or offences such as murder, rape and dacoity cannot
appropriately be quashed though the victim or the family of the
victim have settled the dispute. Such offences are, truly
speaking, not private in nature but have a serious impact upon
society. The decision to continue with the trial in such cases is
founded on the overriding element of public interest in
punishing persons for serious offences.
16.7. As distinguished from serious offences, there may be
criminal cases which have an overwhelming or predominant
20
element of a civil dispute. They stand on a distinct footing
insofar as the exercise of the inherent power to quash is
concerned.
16.8. Criminal cases involving offences which arise from
commercial, financial, mercantile, partnership or similar
transactions with an essentially civil flavour may in appropriate
situations fall for quashing where parties have settled the
dispute.
16.9. In such a case, the High Court may quash the criminal
proceeding if in view of the compromise between the
disputants, the possibility of a conviction is remote and the
continuation of a criminal proceeding would cause oppression
and prejudice; and
16.10. There is yet an exception to the principle set out in
propositions 16.8. and 16.9. above. Economic offences
involving the financial and economic well-being of the State
have implications which lie beyond the domain of a mere
dispute between private disputants. The High Court would be
justified in declining to quash where the offender is involved in
an activity akin to a financial or economic fraud or
misdemeanour. The consequences of the act complained of
upon the financial or economic system will weigh in the
balance.”
47. In State of Madhya Pradesh v. Laxmi Narayan & Ors.
22, a
three-Judge Bench discussed the earlier judgments of this Court and
laid down the following principles:-
“15. Considering the law on the point and the other decisions of
this Court on the point, referred to hereinabove, it is observed and
held as under:
15.1. That the power conferred under Section 482 of the Code to
quash the criminal proceedings for the non-compoundable
offences under Section 320 of the Code can be exercised having
overwhelmingly and predominantly the civil character,
particularly those arising out of commercial transactions or arising
out of matrimonial relationship or family disputes and when the
parties have resolved the entire dispute amongst themselves;
15.2. Such power is not to be exercised in those prosecutions
which involved heinous and serious offences of mental depravity
or offences like murder, rape, dacoity, etc. Such offences are not
private in nature and have a serious impact on society;
22 (2019) 5 SCC 688
21
15.3. Similarly, such power is not to be exercised for the offences
under the special statutes like the Prevention of Corruption Act or
the offences committed by public servants while working in that
capacity are not to be quashed merely on the basis of
compromise between the victim and the offender;
15.4. Offences under Section 307 IPC and the Arms Act, etc.
would fall in the category of heinous and serious offences and
therefore are to be treated as crime against the society and not
against the individual alone, and therefore, the criminal
proceedings for the offence under Section 307 IPC and/or the
Arms Act, etc. which have a serious impact on the society cannot
be quashed in exercise of powers under Section 482 of the Code,
on the ground that the parties have resolved their entire dispute
amongst themselves. However, the High Court would not rest its
decision merely because there is a mention of Section 307 IPC in
the FIR or the charge is framed under this provision. It would be
open to the High Court to examine as to whether incorporation of
Section 307 IPC is there for the sake of it or the prosecution has
collected sufficient evidence, which if proved, would lead to
framing the charge under Section 307 IPC. For this purpose, it
would be open to the High Court to go by the nature of injury
sustained, whether such injury is inflicted on the vital/delicate
parts of the body, nature of weapons used, etc. However, such an
exercise by the High Court would be permissible only after the
evidence is collected after investigation and the charge-sheet is
filed/charge is framed and/or during the trial. Such exercise is not
permissible when the matter is still under investigation.
Therefore, the ultimate conclusion in paras 29.6 and 29.7 of the
decision of this Court in Narinder Singh [(2014) 6 SCC 466: (2014)
3 SCC (Cri) 54] should be read harmoniously and to be read as a
whole and in the circumstances stated hereinabove;
15.5. While exercising the power under Section 482 of the Code
to quash the criminal proceedings in respect of noncompoundable offences, which are private in nature and do not
have a serious impact on society, on the ground that there is a
settlement/compromise between the victim and the offender, the
High Court is required to consider the antecedents of the accused;
the conduct of the accused, namely, whether the accused was
absconding and why he was absconding, how he had managed
with the complainant to enter into a compromise, etc.”
48. In Arun Singh and Others v. State of Uttar Pradesh
Through its Secretary and Another
23
, this Court held:-
“14. In another decision in Narinder Singh v. State of
Punjab (2014) 6 SCC 466 : (2014) 3 SCC (Cri) 54] it has been
observed that in respect of offence against the society it is the
23 (2020) 3 SCC 736
22
duty to punish the offender. Hence, even where there is a
settlement between the offender and victim the same shall not
prevail since it is in interests of the society that offender should
be punished which acts as deterrent for others from committing
similar crime. On the other hand, there may be offences falling in
the category where the correctional objective of criminal law
would have to be given more weightage than the theory of
deterrent punishment. In such cases, the court may be of the
opinion that a settlement between the parties would lead to
better relations between them and would resolve a festering
private dispute and thus may exercise power under Section 482
CrPC for quashing the proceedings or the complaint or the FIR as
the case may be.
15. Bearing in mind the above principles which have been laid
down, we are of the view that offences for which the appellants
have been charged are in fact offences against society and not
private in nature. Such offences have serious impact upon society
and continuance of trial of such cases is founded on the
overriding effect of public interests in punishing persons for such
serious offences. It is neither an offence arising out of
commercial, financial, mercantile, partnership or such similar
transactions or has any element of civil dispute thus it stands on
a distinct footing. In such cases, settlement even if arrived at
between the complainant and the accused, the same cannot
constitute a valid ground to quash the FIR or the charge-sheet.
16. Thus the High Court cannot be said to be unjustified in
refusing to quash the charge-sheet on the ground of compromise
between the parties.”
49. In exercise of power under Section 482 of the Cr.P.C., the Court
does not examine the correctness of the allegation in the complaint
except in exceptionally rare cases where it is patently clear that the
allegations are frivolous or do not disclose any offence.
50. In our considered opinion, the Criminal Proceeding cannot be
nipped in the bud by exercise of jurisdiction under Section 482 of the
Cr. P.C. only because there is a settlement, in this case a monetary
settlement, between the accused and the complainant and other
relatives of the deceased to the exclusion of the hapless widow of the
deceased. As held by the three-Judge Bench of this Court in Laxmi
23
Narayan & Ors. (supra), Section 307 of the IPC falls in the category
of heinous and serious offences and are to be treated as crime
against society and not against the individual alone. On a parity of
reasoning, offence under section 306 of the IPC would fall in the same
category. An FIR under Section 306 of the IPC cannot even be
quashed on the basis of any financial settlement with the informant,
surviving spouse, parents, children, guardians, care-givers or anyone
else. It is clarified that it was not necessary for this Court to examine
the question whether the FIR in this case discloses any offence under
Section 306 of the IPC, since the High Court, in exercise of its power
under Section 482 CrPC, quashed the proceedings on the sole ground
that the disputes between the accused and the informant had been
compromised.
51. The appeals are allowed. The impugned orders of the High
Court are set aside. The observations made in this judgment are not
to be construed as any observation on the merits of the contentions
of the respective parties.
...…………………………………,J.
 [INDIRA BANERJEE]
...…………………………………,J
 [V. RAMASUBRAMANIAN]

NEW DELHI;
JULY 29, 2022.
24

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