Meghalaya High Court: W. Diengdoh, J., allowed a petition which was filed against the rejection order of the Chief Judicial Magistrate about the compromise in a case of a non-compoundable offence.

A Motor Vehicle Accident took place which involved the vehicle driven by the petitioner herein who was proceeding from Guwahati to Shillong on the National Highway, and on reaching near Nongpoh Police Station, Ri-Bhoi District, he saw one vehicle parked on the road and on crossing that vehicle, all of a sudden one pedestrian, the victim H.N. Sangma (since deceased) crossed from the front side of the vehicle and in the process was dashed by the vehicle driven by the petitioner. The petitioner immediately had taken the victim to the Bethany Hospital, Nongpoh for treatment where the victim had succumbed to his injuries. Respondent 2 had filed an FIR in relation to the said incident, after which petitioner was arrested and was released on bail on the same day. However, in course of the investigation, the I/O submitted the charge sheet and came to the conclusion that a prima facie case under Sections 279/304A IPC was found well established against the accused/petitioner.

In the meantime petitioner and the complainant/respondent 2 had arrived at a compromise and had decided to bring to a closure all matters relating to the said incident. Chief Judicial Magistrate, Ri-Bhoi District, Nongpoh had rejected the prayer of the parties solely on the ground that the offences involved are non-compoundable not coming within the purview of Section 320 CrPC and as such, the said compromise between the parties was not allowed. Thus, the instant appeal was filed.

The Court had to consider whether a criminal proceeding involving non-compoundable offence can be set aside and quashed, all parties having reached a compromise.

The Court relied on the judgment mentioned by the counsel of the petitioner Narinder Singh v. State of Punjab, (2014) 6 SCC 499 wherein it was held,

            “29.1. Power conferred under Section 482 of the Code is to be distinguished from the power which lies in the Court to compound the offences under Section 320 of the Code. No doubt, under Section 482 of the Code, the High Court has inherent power to quash the criminal proceedings even in those cases which are not compoundable, where the parties have settled the matter between themselves. However, this power is to be exercised sparingly and with caution.”

The Court held that the High Court, therefore, has the inherent power to quash the criminal proceedings even in those cases which are not compoundable, where the parties have settled the matter between themselves. However, caution is given to the High Court to sparingly exercise this power by looking into the facts and circumstances of the case.

The Court allowing the petition and not going into merits of the case decided that since evidence had to be led, what is prima facie apparent is the conduct of the petitioner/accused who had on his own taken the victim to the hospital for treatment, conclusively no mens rea was present and for meeting ends of justice, the petitioner should not be unnecessarily embroiled in the said criminal proceeding.[Issac Lalsiemthar v. State of Meghalaya, Crl.Petn. No. 9 of 2021, decided on 01-04-2021]

Suchita Shukla, Editorial Assistant has reported this brief.

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