Can High Court quash proceedings for offences under Section 307 IPC? Here’s what SC said

Supreme Court: On the issue relating to the power of compounding of offences conferred on a court under Section 320 Cr.P.C. and the powers conferred under Section 482 Cr.P.C. for quashing of criminal proceedings by the High Court, the 3-judge bench of Dr. AK Sikri, SA Nazeer and MR Shah, JJ has held that:

  1. the power conferred under Section 482 of the Code to quash the criminal proceedings for the non-compoundable offences under Section 320 of the Code can be exercised having overwhelmingly and predominantly the civil character, particularly those arising out of commercial transactions or arising out of matrimonial relationship or family disputes and when the parties have resolved the entire dispute amongst themselves;
  2. such power is not to be exercised in those prosecutions which involved heinous and serious offences of mental depravity or offences like murder, rape, dacoity, etc. Such offences are not private in nature and have a serious impact on society;
  3. such power is not to be exercised for the offences under the special statutes like Prevention of Corruption Act or the offences committed by public servants while working in 24 capacity are not to be quashed merely on the basis of compromise between the victim and the offender;
  4. offences under Section 307 IPC and the Arms Act etc. would fall in the category of heinous and serious offences and therefore are to be treated as crime against the society and not against the individual alone, and therefore, the criminal proceedings for the offence under Section 307 IPC and/or the Arms Act etc. which have a serious impact on the society cannot be quashed in exercise of powers under Section 482 of the Code, on the ground that the parties have resolved their entire dispute amongst themselves. However, the High Court would not rest its decision merely because there is a mention of Section 307 IPC in the FIR or the charge is framed under this provision. It would be open to the High Court to examine as to whether incorporation of Section 307 IPC is there for the sake of it or the prosecution has collected sufficient evidence, which if proved, would lead to framing the charge under Section 307 IPC. For this purpose, it would be open to the High Court to go by the nature of injury sustained, whether such injury is inflicted on the vital/delegate parts of the body, nature of weapons used etc. However, such an exercise by the High Court would be permissible only after the evidence is collected after investigation and the charge sheet is 25 filed/charge is framed and/or during the trial. Such exercise is not permissible when the matter is still under investigation.
  5. while exercising the power under Section 482 of the Code to quash the criminal proceedings in respect of non-compoundable offences, which are private in nature and do not have a serious impart on society, on the ground that there is a settlement/compromise between the victim and the offender, the High Court is required to consider the antecedents of the accused; the conduct of the accused, namely, whether the accused was absconding and why he was absconding, how he had managed with the complainant to enter into a compromise etc.

In the present case, the Bench was called upon to resolve the conflict between the verdicts in  Narinder Singh vs. State of Punjab (2014) 6 SCC 466 and State of Rajasthan vs. Shambhu Kewat (2014) 4 SCC 149. Elaborating upon the aforesaid judgments, the Court said:

“in the case of Shambhu Kewat (supra), this Court has noted the difference between the power of compounding of offences conferred on a court under Section 320 Cr.P.C. and the powers conferred under Section 482 Cr.P.C. for quashing of criminal proceedings by the High Court. In the said decision, this Court further observed that in compounding the offences, the power of a criminal court is circumscribed by the provisions contained in Section 320 Cr.P.C. and the court is guided solely and squarely thereby, while, on the other hand, the formation of opinion by the High Court for quashing a criminal proceedings or criminal complaint under Section 482 Cr.P.C. is guided by the material on record as to whether ends of justice would justify such exercise of power, although ultimate consequence may be acquittal or dismissal of indictment.”

After quoting Para 29 of the Narinder Singh Verdict, the Court said that the ultimate conclusion in paragraphs 29.6 and 29.7 of the decision of this Court in the case of Narinder Singh (supra) should be read harmoniously and to be read as a whole and in the circumstances stated in point number 4 above.

[State of Madhya Pradesh v. Laxmi Narayan, 2019 SCC OnLine SC 320, decided on 05.03.2019]

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