The Gujarat High Court recently quashed a FIR and the order of conviction passed in a matrimonial dispute, observing that the offences involved were of non-serious and private nature.
The Bench comprising Justice Ilesh Vora quashed the FIR registered under Sections 498(a), 323, 294(b), 506(1) and 114 of the Indian Penal Code read with Section 3 and 7 of Dowry Prohibition Act 1961 and set aside the order of conviction passed by Additional Chief Metropolitan Magistrate, Ahmedabad.
“In light of the settled principle of law, it appears that the criminal proceedings involving nonheinous offences or where the offences are predominantly of a private nature, can be annulled irrespective of the fact that trial has already been concluded or appeal stands dismissed against conviction,” it observed.
Respondent No. 2 had lodged the impugned FIR alleging that she had married the original accused No. 1 (Applicant) and after four days of marriage, all the accused had started harassing her for household work and the payment of dowry. The accused No. 1 also abused and beat the Complainant and pursuant to this torture, she left her matrimonial home filed a complaint.
Upon examination of witnesses, the trial court sentenced the accused No. 1 and 2 under Section 498(a) to suffer simple imprisonment of 2 years and a fine of INR 1,000 each and in default of payment of fine, simple imprisonment of one month was awarded. Further, under Section 323 of IPC, the accused No. 1 and 2 were sentenced to simple imprisonment of six months and a fine of INR 500 each. Under the Dowry Prohibition Act, the accused were sentenced to simple imprisonment of 2 years along with the fine of INR 1500 each and under Section 506(1) of the IPC, the accused No. 3 was sentenced to simple imprisonment for one year and a fine of INR 500 each under Section 506(1).
Being aggrieved with the conviction and the sentence, the accused preferred an appeal where the Appellate Court suspended the sentence. During the pendency of the appeal, the accused filed the instant application for the quashment of the impugned FIR.
The accused contested that dispute had already been resolved by way of an amicable settlement and therefore, the continuation of criminal proceedings was a sheer abuse of process of law. Reliance was placed on Ramgopal Versus State of Madhya Pradesh 2021 (0) AIJEL-SC 67811 to submit that while keeping in view the nature of offence and that the parties had amicably settled the dispute and the Complainant had willingly consented to the nullification of proceedings, the High Court should quash the proceedings.
The APP, per contra, contested that once the conviction was awarded by the trial court and the appeal was pending before the Appellate Court, the power could not be exercised as under Section 482 of the Code.
Justice Vora, before venturing into the issues raised by the Application, examined the scope of Section 482 through the Gian Singh vs State of Punjab 2012 10 SCC 303 wherein the Apex Court had held:
“But the criminal cases having overwhelmingly and pre-dominatingly civil flavour stand on different footing for the purposes of quashing, particularly the offences arising from commercial, financial, mercantile, civil, partnership or such like transactions or the offences arising out of matrimony relating to dowry, etc. or the family disputes where the wrong is basically private or personal in nature and the parties have resolved their entire dispute. In this category of cases, High Court may quash criminal proceedings if in its view, because of the compromise between the offender and victim, the possibility of conviction is remote and bleak and continuation of criminal case would put accused to great oppression and prejudice and extreme injustice would be caused to him by not quashing the criminal case despite full and complete settlement and compromise with the victim.“
Similarly, in Madhya Pradesh Vs. Laxmi Narayan & Ors2019 5 SCC 688, it was affirmed that under Section 482, the Court could quash criminal proceedings for the non-compoundable offences having predominantly “civil character.”
Considering this settled principle of law and that no coercion was made during the settlement, the Bench set aside and quashed the criminal proceedings and the impugned FIR.
Case Title: KAMLESH @ RINKU MOHANLAL UPADHYAY Versus STATE OF GUJARAT
Case No.: R/CR.MA/6184/2022
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