Taking note of the bleak chances of conviction if parties in a matrimonial dispute arrive at a settlement, the Allahabad High Court has said the offender and victim in such cases should be allowed to compound the offence in terms of the settlement.
"The object of criminal law is primarily to visit the offender with certain consequences. He may be made to suffer punishment or by paying compensation to the victim, but the law at the same time also provides that it may not be necessary in every criminal offence to mete out punishment, particularly, if the victim wants to bury the hatchet.
"If the offender and victim want to move on in a matrimonial case, they may be allowed to compound the offences in terms of settlement…On making settlement between the parties in a matrimonial dispute, the chance of ultimate conviction is bleak and therefore, no useful purpose is likely to be served by allowing a criminal prosecution against the applicants to continue," said Justice Sanjay Kumar Singh.
Justice Singh said so while deciding the plea of an estranged husband and her brother who had sought quashing of charge sheet filed against them in a case registered in year 2017 under Sections 498A, 323, 504, 506, 406 IPC and 3/4 Dowry Prohibition Act pending in the court of 18th Additional Chief Judicial Magistrate, Allahabad.
The man (Applicant no. 1) was married to the opposite party in the year 2013. The marriage was not successful and the estranged wife lodged FIR dated 22.1.2017 against the applicants (husband and brother-in-law), her father-in-law and sister-in-law making various allegations of beating, harassment and torture adopting different modus-operandi, on account of non-fulfillment of demand of dowry, etc.
A charge sheet was filed and the magisterial court took cognizance of the same and summoned the applicants.
On a hearing in July 2019, both the sides informed the Court about their willingness to settle the matter. The court then granted time to the applicants to make arrangement of payment to settle the dispute amicably.
Thereafter, the parties filed a joint affidavit in the court informing it about the settlement reached in the matter wherein the estranged wife had agreed to receive an amount of Rs 22 Lakhs from the estranged in-laws and withdraw all the cases filed by her against the applicants and other family members. Both the sides also pledged not to file any fresh cross cases.
The estranged wife informed the court that she had no objection to quashing of impugned criminal proceedings against the applicants.
While deciding the application, Justice Singh referred to observations of the Apex Court in G. V. Rao Vs. L.H.V. Prasad and others wherein the court had set out the approach to be adopted in matrimonial cases as it had held, "Marriage is a sacred ceremony, the main purpose of which is to enable the young couple to settle down in life and live peacefully. But little matrimonial skirmishes suddenly escalate which often assume serious proportions resulting in the commission of heinous crimes in which elders of the family are also involved with the result that those who could have counselled and brought about rapprochement are rendered helpless on they being arrayed as accused in the criminal case. There are many other reasons which need not be mentioned here for not encouraging matrimonial litigation so that the parties may ponder over their defaults and terminate their disputes amicably by mutual agreement instead of fighting it out in a Court of law where it takes years and years to conclude and in that process the parties lose their "young" days in chasing their "cases" in different Courts".
The bench also referred to a March, 2019 judgment of the Supreme court wherein the court had laid down guideline for exercising the jurisdiction under Section 482 Cr.P.C. in case of settlement of dispute between the accused and complainant.
One of the observations made by the court was 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".
Considering these cases and the circumstances of the case, Justice Singh allowed the application and ordered an end to all litigation between the estranged couple.
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