- Apprentice Lawyer
The Nagpur Bench of Bombay High Court recently held that it is only in ‘rarest of rare' cases that a High Court may, in exercise of its inherent powers under Section 482 of Code of Criminal Procedure (CrPC), quash criminal proceedings based on settlement between the parties after conviction.
A Full Bench comprising Justices AS Chandurkar, Vinay Joshi and NB Suryawanshi concluded that “it would be a sound exercise of discretion under Section 482 of the Code and in accordance with the law of the land to refuse to quash criminal proceedings post-conviction for a non- compoundable offence only on the ground that the parties have entered into a compromise."
Instead, the court can permit the convicted party to bring to the notice of the appellate/revisional court, the aspect of compromise, the Bench added.
The Court noted that it is not permissible to set aside the judgment of conviction at the appellate/revisional stage only on the ground that the parties have entered into a compromise.
Thus, if the judgment of conviction cannot be set aside in an appeal/revision only on the ground that the parties have entered into a compromise, similar result cannot be obtained in a proceeding under Section 482 of the CrPC, it was held.
The Bench was deciding the extent of powers exercisable under Section 482 in view of conflicting judgments by co-ordinate benches of the High Court in this regard.
A Division Bench at Aurangabad had held in Udhav Kisanrao Ghodse Vs. State of Maharashtra that since the parties had decided to maintain good and cordial relations in future and such an attitude was beneficial to the society, inherent powers under Section 482 were required to be invoked. In this regard, reliance was placed on Abasaheb Yadav Honmane v. State of Maharashtra and Gian Singh v. State of Punjab and Anr.
The judgment of Udhav Ghodse came to be followed by a Division Bench of Nagpur in Ajmatkhan S/o. Rahematkhan, & Anr. v. State of Maharashtra.
In that judgment, it was reiterated that the power under Section 482 for quashing the proceedings could be exercised even after conviction of an accused.
Conversely, a co-ordinate bench at Nagpur in Maya Sanjay Khandare and anr. v. State of Maharashtra opined that exercise of power under Section 482 ought to be exercised rarely rather than being invoked frequently.
The Full Bench refused to agree with the proposition that in cases where a settlement was reached between convict and complainant, the conviction can be quashed by invoking inherent powers.
They opined that the inherent power “could not be invoked merely on the ground of settlement between the parties.
The remedy of challenging the order of conviction is available to the accused by way of an appeal. Any compromise entered into post-conviction for a non-compoundable offence cannot by itself result in acquittal of the accused.
The compromise entered into, therefore, is just a mitigating factor that can be taken into account while hearing the appeal/revision challenging the conviction and can be taken into consideration while imposing appropriate punishment/sentence. It is not permissible to set aside the judgment of conviction at the appellate/revisional stage only on the ground that the parties have entered into a compromise.
The Court also set out an example to show when the inherent jurisdiction can be invoked.
"To illustrate, where a jurisdictional issue going to the root of the matter is raised for challenging the conviction or in matrimonial disputes where the parties have agreed to settle their differences, jurisdiction under Section 482 of the Code could be exercised. Such exercise of jurisdiction should be limited to the rarest of rare cases when found necessary to prevent the abuse of the process of the Court or to secure the ends of justice," the judgment said.