Chandigarh, April 25, 2022: While dealing with a quashing plea in respect of an FIR contacting non-compoundable offences under Sections 452, 148, 149 of IPC and Section 3 of ST and ST (Prevention of Atrocities) Act, 1989], the Punjab and Haryana High Court quashed the FIR on the ground that the afore-said offences, even though non-compoundable, did not prima facie appear to be so grave or heinous so as to attract the rigour of the embargo foisted upon the High Court in the verdict of Supreme Court in Gian Singh v. the State of Punjab and Another, 2012(4) RCR (Criminal) 543.
The Bench of Justice Sureshwar Thakur held, “In aftermath when rather thereupons, the chances of the petitioners being convicted are remote as well as bleak. In sequel, the ordering for the trial of the accused, would result in harassment and humiliation, being caused to the accused, besides would defeat the ends of justice.”
Through this instant petition filed under Section 482 of the Cr.P.C., the petitioners sought the quashing of an FIR registered under Sections 323, 452, 506, 325, 148, 149 of IPC, and, Section 3 of SC and ST (Prevention of Atrocities) Act, 1989 against the petitioner after a compromise was arrived at between the parties.
When the instant petition came up before this Court on a previous hearing, an order was made upon the Magistrate concerned, to make a report to the High Court with respect to the genuineness of the compromise, as also whether any person(s) was/were nominated as accused; whether any person was declared a proclaimed offender; whether challan was filed.
The Magistrate stated in his report that the settlement/compromise was both voluntary and free from vices of duress and compulsion.
The State Court on instructions meted to him by SI Raj Kumar contended that the relief as claimed by the petitioners in the petition could not be granted as some of the offences constituted against the accused-petitioners, namely, those under Sections 452, 148, 149 of the IPC and under Section 3 of ST and ST (Prevention of Atrocities) Act, 1989 were non-compoundable.
The Court opined at the very outset that this argument could not be accepted by the Court for the pre-eminent reason that the report under Section 173 Cr.P.C. by the investigating agency was yet to be filed before the Magistrate concerned. This ground was also accompanied by the fact that the injured/complainant was the only person, who became aggrieved from the purported disparaging casteist utterances, as were made by the accused concerned, at the crime site, and, that no other person is aggrieved from the afore utterances.
On the power of the High Court in quashing an FIR, the Court made reference to the parameters as encapsulated in a verdict of the Supreme Court, rendered in Gian Singh (supra) wherein it was held that the inherent power under Section 482 Cr.P.C., as vested in the High Court, for quashing of criminal proceedings, as/of FIR or complaint, through recourse being made to the provisions of Section 482 Cr.P.C., rather being distinct and different from the power given to a criminal Court, hence for compounding the relevant offence, being enjoined to become tested vis-a-vis the facts in hand, for apposite application thereon.
However, it was also held therein that the aforementioned power vested in the High Court, is of the widest plenitude, with no statutory limitation, being placed thereon, yet it has to be exercised to secure the ends of justice and to prevent the abuse of process of any Court. Though no straightjacket formula, has been contemplated for recourse being made to the mandate of Section 482 Cr.P.C., the essential rubric viz-a-viz it’s valid exercising is comprised in the principle that if the accused and the complainant rather enter into a valid ad idem settlement, and, when thereupon the conviction of the accused becomes remote and bleak.
Consequently, it was mandated by the Supreme Court that unless the offences sought to be quashed through the exercising of the power vested under Section 482 Cr.P.C. are not serious and heinous, inasmuch as the afore, do not embody offences appertaining to murder, rape, dacoity etc., and, or when the offences are in relation to special statutes like Prevention of Corruption Act or offences committed by public servants, while working in that capacity, it can be permissibly exercised.
Thus, examining the present case in light of the above-cited precedent, the Court opined that since the offences under Sections 452, 148, 149 of the IPC and under Section 3 of ST and ST (Prevention of Atrocities) Act, 1989, did not, prima facie, appear to be so grave or heinous so as to attract the rigour of the embargo foisted upon the High Court in verdict (supra).
Therefore, the Court was of the view that the settlement/compromise, as validly entered into, enjoins its being revered. Consequently, even if the afore offences were non-compoundable, the Court did not deem it fit to accept the contention(s) of the State counsel that the Court, may not through recoursing the mandate of Section 482 Cr.P.C., quash the FIR.
Further, the Court observed that the chances of the petitioners being convicted were remote as well as bleak and thus the ordering for the trial of the accused would result in harassment and humiliation being caused to the accused besides would defeat the ends of justice. Thus, the Court found merit in the petition.