Delhi HC refuses to quash criminal proceedings against Building Contractor who ‘settled’ the matter 'Out of Court' [Read Judgment]

Delhi HC refuses to quash criminal proceedings against Building Contractor who ‘settled’ the matter


I am of the view that quashing of criminal proceedings in the present case would create and set an unhealthy precedent, and send wrong signals to the society at large, the Court said.


In a building collapse case which resulted in death of a labourer, the Delhi High Court has refused to quash criminal proceedings against a building contractor. Justice Vipin Sanghi, refusing to quash the proceedings by recording the ‘settlement’ reached between the contractor and labourers who were injured, said that quashing of criminal proceedings at this stage, would create and set an unhealthy precedent, and send wrong signals to the society at large.

The incident, according to prosecution, occurred during excavation of basement in a dangerous manner, debris and soil fell on the labourers. One labourer had died and others were injured. The prosecution opposed quashing of the case and submitted: “the fact that such an accident speaks for itself, that sufficient support to prevent the earth from collapsing on the labour force working on the excavated ground had not been provided. Such negligence is gross, as collapse of earth/ mud, gravity, unless the same is adequately supported, is known to be highly likely.”

The counsel for the Building contractor, submitted before the Court that, he has already paid a sum of Rs. 4, 70,600/- to the LRs of the deceased labourer. He had also produced affidavits of other labourers which stated that they do not want any further action in the matter, and that they have no objection if the said FIR and the proceedings arising there from are quashed, as no useful purpose would be served in continuing with the same.

The Court, referring to various case laws on the subject, said: “In my view, quashing the FIR in question at this stage would certainly send a very wrong signal not only to the petitioner, but the whole society at large and particularly to other builders, contractors and other agencies engaged in undertaking construction work, that even if they are grossly negligent in taking preventive measures so as to prevent predictable accidents – which may lead to serious injury and even loss of life, they could get away by paying some compensation to the heirs of the injured/ deceased. In fact, such like contractors/ builders/ agencies may find it more economical to risk the lives of their workforce, and in the eventuality of an accident occurring, to pay compensation, than to undertake all safety measures which, if taken, would prevent such accidents in the first place.”

Read the Judgment here.