In a recent judgment, The Supreme Court has ruled that "Offences which involve moral turpitude, grave offences like rape, murder etc. cannot be effaced by quashing the proceedings because that will have harmful effect on the society". The Court had ruled this in the judgment Yogendra Yadav & Ors vs. The State of Jharkhand & Anr. The Court drew a contrast between offences under Section 498A IPC and heinous crimes like rape and murder, though all three categories of offences are non-compoundable.
A bench of Justices Ranjana Desai and N V Ramana drew a contrast between offences under Section 498A IPC and heinous crimes like rape and murder, though all three categories of offences are non-compoundable.It said Section 320 of the Criminal Procedure Code provided the list of offences that could be compounded after parties reached a compromise and the courts have to strictly follow that. The Court noted that offences which are non-compoundable cannot be compounded by the court and that Courts draw the power of compounding offences from Section 320 of the Code. But the Court ruled that the High Court has the requisite powers to quash a criminal proceeding in exercise of its power under Section 482 of the Code having regard to the fact that the parties have amicably settled their disputes and the victim has no objection, even though the offences are non-compoundable. The Court ruled that if the offences are entirely personal in nature and not of the nature which involves moral turpitude, grave offences like rape, murder etc it can be compounded. "Moral Turpitude and grave offences if quashed may send wrong signal to the society".
Dowry cases are personal, can be quashed
The Apex Court in Manohar Singh vs. State of Madhya Pradesh & Anr also ruled that dowry harassment cases are personal in nature and can be quashed if the estranged couple reaches a "genuine" compromise. Earlier this month, the Supreme Court had directed the state governments to instruct police "not to automatically arrest when a case under Section 498A of IPC (dowry harassment) is registered but to satisfy themselves about the necessity for arrest under the parameters laid down flowing from Section 41 of Criminal Procedure Code".
The Bench noted that, "It is, therefore, not possible to permit compounding of offences under Section 498A of the Indian Penal Code and Section 4 of the Dowry Prohibition Act. However, if there is a genuine compromise between husband and wife, criminal complaints arising out of matrimonial discord can be quashed, even if the offences alleged therein are non-compoundable, because such offences are personal in nature and do not have repercussion on society, unlike heinous offences like murder, rape etc."
The Appellant and his Parents who were convicted under Section 498-A of the IPC and were sentenced to undergo six month imprisonment. He wasalso convicted under Section 4 of the Dowry Act and sentenced to undergo six months imprisonment. Though the Madhya Pradesh high court acquitted his parents, it upheld the conviction of the husband. However, the HC reduced the sentence of the husband to six months imprisonment from two years sentence imposed by the trial court. The couple reached a compromise with the husband agreeing to pay Rs 2.5 lakh in addition to bearing the cost of litigation. The woman pleaded for quashing of the case against her estranged husband. The standing counsel for Madhya Pradesh opposed quashing the case.
The question before the court was whether the apex court could reduce the sentence in a case where the conviction has been upheld by the trial court and the high court. The court found that though Section 498A of IPC did not prescribe a minimum sentence, Section 4 of the Dowry Prohibition Act provided a minimum six-month sentence.
The bench rejected the state's objection to the compromise and said, "We see no reason why in this case we should not reduce the husband's sentence to the sentence already undergone by him. There can be no doubt about the genuine nature of the compromise between the husband and wife." The Bench reduced the imprisonment and also the fine imposed by the High Court.