Read Order: Bhupinder Kaur @ Rani v. State of Punjab and Another

Monika Rahar

Chandigarh, May 12, 2022: While exercising its jurisdiction under Section 482 CrPC, the Punjab and Haryana High Court has held that in cases where compromise is struck post-conviction, the High Court ought to exercise such discretion with rectitude, keeping in view the circumstances surrounding the incident.

In this case, a valid compromise was entered into between the complainant, a 51 year old widow who was convicted for attempting to steal the purse of the complainant in a crowded place. Thus, while quashing the order of conviction and sentence, the bench of Justice Vikas Bahl held, “Firstly, the occurrence which has been involved in the present petition can be categorized as a purely personal / criminal act of private nature. Secondly, in the present case, no injury has been caused. Thirdly, compromise is without any coercion or compulsion and has been entered into willingly and voluntarily.”

It was further asserted, 

“… Fifthly, the petitioner is a widowed lady of 51 years of age and the complainant has stated that he has primarily entered into a compromise on account of the old age of the petitioner and on account of the fact that no loss has been caused to him. Sixthly, the object of administration of the criminal justice system would remain unaffected on acceptance of the said amicable settlement between the parties and /or resultant acquittal of the petitioner.

Challenged in this Criminal Revision was to the judgment of the Additional Chief Judicial Magistrate, Amritsar, vide which the petitioner was convicted in FIR registered against her under Sections 379 and 411 of the Indian Penal Code, 1860. Challenge was also made to the judgment of the Additional Sessions Judge, Amritsar, vide which an appeal filed by the present petitioner was also dismissed.

The case of the prosecution was that the petitioner (a 51 year old widow) made an attempt to steal the purse of the complainant in a crowded place but she was not successful in her attempt and the purse was recovered on the spot. 

Admittedly, both the parties entered into a compromise and the complainant stated that he would not have any objection in case, the judgments passed by both the Courts below, convicting the petitioner, were set aside and the petitioner was acquitted/discharged. 

After considering the above stated fact situation, the Court perused a recent Supreme Court decision (Ramgopal & Anr. vs. The State of Madhya Pradesh) wherein it was held that criminal proceedings involving non heinous offences can be annulled irrespective of the fact that trial has already been concluded and appeal stands dismissed against conviction and that handing out punishment is not the sole form of delivering justice. 

Thus, from this decision, the Court observed that the cases where compromise is struck post-conviction, the High Court ought to exercise such discretion with rectitude, keeping in view the circumstances surrounding the incident.

Also, after placing reliance on a bunch of other decisions, the Court opined that  as per settled law, the Court was empowered to set aside the judgment of conviction against the petitioner on the basis of a valid compromise and the compromise in the present case was found by the Court to be genuine and valid.

Applying the principles laid down in the case of  Ramgopal (Supra), the Court observed that the occurrence which has been involved in the present petition can be categorized as a purely personal / criminal act of private nature. Secondly, it was observed that no injury was caused and that the compromise was without any coercion or compulsion and has been entered into willingly and voluntarily. 

It was also the finding of the Court that the occurrence took place in the year 2017 and there was nothing on record to show that any untoward incident took place after the same. The fact that the petitioner was widowed lady of 51 years of age and the complainant stated that he primarily entered into compromise on account of old age of the petitioner and on account of the fact that no loss was caused to him, was taken into consideration by the Court, while observing that the object of administration of the criminal justice system would remain unaffected on acceptance of the said amicable settlement between the parties and /or resultant acquittal of the petitioner. 

Thus, keeping in view above said facts and circumstances, the present Criminal Revision was allowed and judgment of the Additional Chief Judicial Magistrate, Amritsar and judgment of the Additional Sessions Judge, Amritsar were set aside and the petitioner was acquitted of the charges framed against her. 

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