Read Order: Madhav S/o Govindrao Sathe and Ors v. The State of Maharashtra and Ors 

Pankaj Bajpai

Mumbai, July 19, 2021: A bail plea filed by two politicians seeking quashing of a conviction order, on the ground that they had settled the dispute with the complainant, has been dismissed by the Aurangabad Bench of the Bombay High Court. 

A Division Bench of Justice VK Jadhav and Justice SG Dige held that they were not inclined to set up a new trend encouraging politicians to settle their dispute post-conviction to achieve better future political prospects.

The case pertains to applicants Madhav Sathe and Shivaji Sonkamble who were convicted under sections 332 and 353 of IPC for assaulting and obstructing the duty of a public servant and were sentenced to six months of rigorous imprisonment and a fine of Rs 2,000 by ASJ Mukhed.

While the appeal challenging the conviction was pending before the Sessions Court, the applicants sought acquittal on the ground that they had arrived at an amicable settlement with the complainant. The application was however rejected by the Sessions Judge, on the ground that the offence u/s 332 was non-compoundable.

Challenging the decision of the Sessions Judge, the counsel for the applicants approached the Aurangabad Bench with an application u/s 482 of the CrPC, contending that quashing of criminal proceeding on the ground of settlement between an offender and a victim are not on the same footing, and hence would not amount to compounding of an offence.

An affidavit file before the HC stated that an amicable settlement had been arrived between the petitioners and the complainant to maintain cordial relations since the applicants are politicians having good future prospects in politics.

The APP MM Nerlikar, however, opposed the application stating that the act of causing hurt to the complainant occurred while he was discharging his duties as a public servant. 

Citing the conviction order which recorded that the conduct of the accused was unwarranted and if dealt with soft hands, a very bad message will go to the society, the APP urged that the assault was done at the hands of the applicants simply because the complainant did not receive their phone call. 

The High Court noted that although the complainant had clarified that he is not interested in the conviction of the applicants since they had tendered an apology, however, such act did not show any repentance on their part or assurance that such conduct will not be repeated in the future.

“There are cases of assault on the public servants in connection with excavation of sand illegally from the river bed, assault on doctors and hospital staff and causing damage to the public property, assault on R.T.O. officials by the errant drivers, assault on the officials of M.S.E.D.C.L. and the drivers and conductors of M.S.R.T.C., assault on police staff enforcing the Covid norms at public places etc. This tendency needs to be discouraged by taking stringent view in such matters,” observed the High Court. 

Stating that the settlement arrived at between the parties was not enough to secure the ends of justice, the High Court refused to quash criminal proceedings and left it to the Sessions Court to consider whether the settlement arrived at between the parties would be a mitigating circumstance to reduce the sentence awarded to the applicants.

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