Case BriefsHigh Courts

Allahabad High Court: Sanjay Kumar Singh, J. while allowing the application under Section 482 CrPC observed that even the law provides that it may not be necessary for every criminal offence to mete out punishment, particularly, if the victim wants to bury the hatchet.

In the instant case, applicant 1 is the husband and applicant 2 is the brother-in-law of opposite party 2 (OP). Due to non-fulfilment of dowry demands, OP was tortured, beaten and harassed and thereby made OP lodge an FIR against the applicants, her father-in-law and sister-in-law.

On the request of applicants, time was granted to them to make arrangement of payment to settle the dispute amicably. Afterwards, a joint affidavit was filed by the applicants and OP submitting that they have settled their matrimonial dispute outside the Court and they have no grievance against each other. The settlement was based on certain terms and conditions like OP will receive an amount of Rs 22 lakh from applicant 1 and would not prosecute each other or family members with regard to present matrimonial dispute between them.

After observing the submissions of the parties, the Court looked into some relevant judgments of the Supreme Court where guidelines for quashing of criminal proceedings on the basis of compromise and amicable settlement of the matrimonial dispute between the parties concerned was laid down.

In Madhavrao Jiwajirao Scindia v. Sambhaji-Rao Chandrojirao Angre, (1988) 1 SCC 692, it was laid down that the inherent power under Section 482 CrPC should be used where special features appear or it is expedient and in the interest of justice to permit a prosecution to continue.

In G.V. Rao v. L.H.V. Prasad, (2000) 3 SCC 693, the Supreme Court made some apt observations in relation to matrimonial disputes. Little matrimonial skirmishes suddenly escalate which often assume serious proportions resulting in commission of heinous crimes in which elders of the family are also involved. Instead of fighting out in the Court, the parties should amicably terminate their disputes.

In Swati Verma v. Rajan Verma, (2004) 1 SCC 123 similar to the present case, the Supreme Court had quashed the criminal proceedings under Sections 498A and 406 IPC before the CJM as the divorce litigation between the sparring spouses was decided on the basis of a compromise.

With these cases referred and a few others, the Court observed that If the offender and victim want to move on in matrimonial cases, they may be allowed to compound the offences in terms of the settlement.[Alok Jaiswal v. State of U.P., Application u/s 482 No.  27720 of 2019, decided on 08-08-2019]

Case BriefsHigh Courts

Punjab and Haryana High Court:  Arvind Singh Sangwan, J. allowed the application for the refund of the fees on the ground that the matter was resolved between the parties.

An appeal was filed by the appellant-plaintiff against the order passed by the Additional Civil Judge (Senior Division), Faridabad where the suit for specific performance filed by the appellant was dismissed.

Rakesh Kumar Sharma, counsel for the applicant/appellant submitted that the appellant does not wish to pursue the appeal which was filed for the specific performance as the dispute between the parties had been resolved amicably.The applicant/appellant further prayed for the refund of the court fee.  Reliance was placed upon the decision of Division Bench of the Karnataka High Court in the case of A. Sreeramaiah v. South Indian Bank Ltd., 2006 SCC Online Kar 563 in which it was held that the matter being resolved by the parties amicably, amongst themselves without the intervention of the court, the court fees should be refunded.

In the above-mentioned case, the court held that the object behind Section 89 of the Civil Procedure Code, 1908 is to encourage the parties to arrive at the settlement. It is not important that the parties are referred to the four methods but if parties themselves at the earliest stage before the court come to the settlement, it will be considered that the object of Section 89 is achieved. The court further held that “No party should be discriminated in the matter of refund of Court Fees mainly on the ground that they have settled the dispute at the earliest stage before the court without recourse to any of the methods mentioned under Section 89 of the Civil Procedure Code, 1908.” Thus, the court directed the refund of the court fees appended with the appeal to the appellant. [Suresh Kumar Gupta v. State of Punjab, 2019 SCC OnLine P&H 660, decided on 30-5-2019]

Case BriefsHigh Courts

Uttaranchal High Court: The Bench of Manoj K. Tiwari, J. allowed a criminal miscellaneous application challenging the proceedings of the criminal case on the ground that the parties had settled the dispute between themselves.

The counsels for the parties submitted that parties had buried their differences and entered into a compromise and settled the dispute amicably outside the court, therefore, no useful purpose would have been served if the criminal case was to be continued.

The Court relied on Gian Singh v. State of Punjab, (2010) 15 SCC 118 which had considered the question with regard to the inherent power of the High Court under Section 482 CrPC in quashing the criminal proceedings against the offender, who had settled his dispute with the victim of the crime in a case, where crime is not compoundable under Section 320 CrPC. The Court held that in view of the settlement arrived at between the complainant and the applicants and the possibility of a conviction being remote and bleak, the FIR shall be quashed. [Abdul Rahman v. State of Uttarakhand, 2019 SCC OnLine Utt 87, Order dated 18-02-2019]

 

Case BriefsTribunals/Commissions/Regulatory Bodies

National Company Law Appellate Tribunal (NCLAT): A Bench comprising of Justice S.J. Mukhopadhaya, Chairperson and Justice Bansi Lal Bhat, Member (Judicial) allowed an appeal filed against the order of National Company Law Tribunal, Chandigarh admitting respondent’s application under Section 7 of the Insolvency and Bankruptcy Code, 2016.

It was submitted by the Corporate Debtor that a settlement was reached between the parties and the said fact was brought to the notice of NCLT, however, it declined to allow Financial Creditor to withdraw the application for the reason that the matter has been fixed for pronouncement. The parties brought on record the settlement deed and the Resolution Professional submitted that parties had paid fees and insolvency cost to him.

Perusing the record, the Appellate Tribunal found that parties had reached settlement much prior to the date of admission of the application. As such, there was no default of payment on part of Corporate Debtor and there was no occasion for NCLT to admit application under Section 7. Consequently, the actions taken by NCLT were declared illegal and were set aside. The proceedings were directed to be closed. The appeals were thus allowed. [Gaurav Pandey v. Eternity Investment Services (P) Ltd., 2018 SCC OnLine NCLAT 836, dated 30-11-2018]

Case BriefsSupreme Court

Supreme Court: Uday U. Lalit, J. delivered the judgment for Abhay Manohar Sapre, J.  and himself whereby the Court reiterated that no eviction can be ordered unless grounds for seeking eviction are made out.

The appellant-tenants and respondent-landlord entered into a lease agreement. Subsequently, the respondent wanted the premises to be evicted which effort was resisted by the appellants. The matter became a dispute and a police complaint was filed. A written settlement was reached between the parties under which the appellants agreed to vacate the premises. The appellant disputed the said agreement alleging that they were made to enter into the compromise by coercion under police pressure. The matter travelled through various competent authorities; the Principal Subordinate Judge allowed the application filed by the appellant; however, on appeal by the respondent, the High Court reversed the order of the said Judge. Aggrieved thus, the appellants preferred the instant appeal.

The Supreme Court referred to its earlier judgments including K. K. Chari v. R.M. Seshadri, (1973) 1 SCC 761 and Nagindas Ramdas v. Dalpatram Ichharam, (1974) 1 SCC 242. The Court observed that the common thread running through the judgments referred was that ‘in cases where protection under Rent Act is available, no eviction can be ordered unless grounds seeking eviction is made out, even in a case where parties have entered into a compromise. Moreover, invalidity on that count can even be raised in execution.’ In the present case, however, noted the Supreme Court, the order of the High Court did not even remotely note that any particular ground under the Rent Act was made out. In the view of the Court, the order passed by the Principal Subordinate Judge was correct and did not call for any interference by the High Court. Therefore, the order impugned was set aside and the appeal was allowed. [Alagu Pharmacy v. N. Magudeswari,2018 SCC OnLine SC 961, dated 14-08-2018]

Case BriefsHigh Courts

Himachal Pradesh High Court: A criminal revision petition filed under Section 320 read with Section 482 CrPC for compounding the criminal case pending against the petitioners was allowed by Single Judge Bench comprising of Tarlok Singh Chauhan, J.

The petitioners were allowed to have assaulted the complainant out of the previous enmity between them. They were tried and sentenced by the trial court under Sections 324 and 477 read with Section 34 IPC. Petitioners filed the present petition submitting that they have entered into an amicable settlement with the complainant. It was further submitted that the parties have buried their differences and disputes; they have good relations and live in peace and harmony; the complainant did not want to prosecute the matter any further.

The parties were present before the High Court and they submitted the deed of settlement by which it was clear that the complainant did not want to pursue the case further. The Court relied on Gian Singh v. State of Punjab; (2012) 10 SCC 303, wherein it was held that the powers of the High Court under Section 482 are wider than the power of a criminal court to compound an offence under Section 320 CrPC. Considering the fact that the offence for which the petitioners were charged cannot be stricto sensu held to be an offence against the State, and also that the parties have settled the suit amicably; the High Court held it to be a fit case to exercise powers under Section 482. Accordingly, the petition was allowed and the matter was ordered to be compounded. [Sunit Singh v. State of H.P,2018 SCC OnLine HP 606, dated 15-05-2018]

Bail Application
Case BriefsHigh Courts

Himachal Pradesh High Court: A Single Judge Bench comprising of Ajay Mohan Goel, J., decided a criminal petition filed under Section 482 of CrPC, wherein the FIR and proceedings arising thereunder against the petitioners were quashed in light of settlement between the parties.

FIR was registered against the petitioners under Sections 420, 465, 467, 469, 471, 406 and 120-B of IPC. It was submitted that the issue which led to registration of the FIR stood amicably settled between the parties. The complainant company too submitted before the court that it had no issue if the said FIR and the proceedings arising thereunder are quashed by the Court, as they have settled the matter with the petitioners.

The High Court perused the record and held that it was a fit case to exercise its inherent powers in favour of the petitioners. The complainant company did not have any objection if the petition was allowed. The matter stood settled between the parties already. It was held that it was in the interest of justice if the said FIR and the proceedings arising thereunder were quashed. The Court ordered accordingly. [Pankaj Gupta v. State of H.P.,  2018 SCC OnLine HP 425, dated 11.4.2018]

Case BriefsHigh Courts

Delhi High Court: A Single Judge Bench of the Delhi High Court, dismissed a petition for quashing of FIR and criminal proceedings there under, under Section 482 of the CrPC. The FIR was registered under Section 304-A IPC against the accused who was attached with the petitioner company.

The Court noted that the accused was not named in the petition and hence, no quashment regarding him could be granted. Futher, payment of Rs 6.5 lakhs to the deceased’s legal heirs on humanitarian grounds were also found not sufficient grounds for quashment in a serious and grave offence. The Court relied on Bhajan Lal Sharma v. State (Govt. of NCT of Delhi), 2016 SCC OnLine Del 4234 : 2016 (158) DRJ 493 to explain how granting quashment to the current facts would amount to setting an unhealthy precedent, giving wrong impressions to the whole society that builders, construction contractors etc can ignore safety precautions against foreseeable threat to life of workers as long as they pay compensation. Petition dismissed with order that observations shall have no impact on merits of the case. [Hitachi Payment Services (P) Ltd. v. State,  2018 SCC OnLine Del 8131, decided on 23.03.2018]

Case BriefsHigh Courts

Delhi High Court: A Division Bench comprising of Gita Mittal, Actg. CJ and C. Hari Shankar, J., disposed of an appeal under Section 37 of the Arbitration and Conciliation Act, 1996 on grounds of the underlying dispute being settled by a settlement agreement by way of mediation.

The parties had preferred an appeal each, both of which were dealt with the court jointly. The appellant had challenged the order which upheld the arbitral award in favour of the respondent, whereas the respondent had appealed against the order rejecting a petition under Section 9 of the Arbitration Act with regard to the subject matter of the aforesaid arbitral award. The Court on the date of hearing noted that the dispute between the parties appeared to be capable of being resolved through mediation. The parties were, consequently, referred to Mr. Sudhanshu Batra, Sr. Advocate/Mediator at Delhi High Court Mediation and Conciliation Centre. The parties were able to arrive at a settlement and the original settlement agreement was forwarded to the Court. The parties confirmed the correctness of the record received. Additionally, the counsel stated that the parties had acted upon the terms thereof and in view of the settlement in place, nothing survived for further adjudication. Hence, the appeal may be disposed of. The Court, noting the same, disposed of the appeals. [M/s Konka Group Company Ltd v. M/s A2VP Distributors,  2018 SCC OnLine Del 7015, decided on 31.01.2018]

Case BriefsHigh Courts

Karnataka High Court: While passing the order in a criminal petition filed under Section 482 of CrPC, a Single Judge Bench of Aravind Kumar, J. held that in light of the parties having entered into settlement, the Court was of considered view that continuation of proceedings would not sub-serve the ends of justice and it would be an abuse of process of law.

The petitioner was seeking to quash the proceedings pending before the Metropolitan Magistrate, in a criminal case for the offence punishable under Section 29 of the Industrial Disputes Act, 1947. He contended that the Management and the Employees Union have entered into a settlement and as such the proceedings may be quashed.

Learned advocates appearing for the parties filed a joint memorandum of settlement entered into between the parties. The parties were present before the court and the complainant submitted that he had no objection to the proceedings being quashed. The parties submitted that they had entered into the settlement out of their own free will and volition.

In light of the parties having entered into settlement and the submissions made by the complainant, the Court allowed the petition and quashed the proceedings pending before the MM. Accordingly, the Court acquitted the accused of the offence punishable under Section 29 of IDA, 1947. [Ashok Mathur v. Sri P.I. Antoo, Criminal Petition No. 4868/2014, dated August 14, 2017]

 

Case BriefsHigh Courts

Delhi High Court: While dealing with a question relating to condoning of delay after deducting the days which were spent for the purpose of settlement, the Court held that deducting the number of days spent for the purpose of settlement can be considered sufficient reason to condone the delay.

In the present case, the plaintiff filed the suit for permanent injunction against the defendant to restrain violation and infringement of its rights in its 8 patents along with damages, rendition of accounts, delivery up etc. In furtherance of the court proceedings, a notice in the counter claim was issued by Court vide order dated 31st July, 2015 and a period of 8 weeks was given to the plaintiff to file its written statement. For 59 days, both the parties were negotiating. Thereafter, the plaintiff informed the Court that both the parties have not been able to resolve the matter. Later, an application was filed by the Defendant counsel that as per Section 16 read with Schedule I of the Commercial Courts Ordinance, a written statement filed after expiry of 120 days from the date of service of summons cannot be taken on record. Ms. Pratibha M. Singh, learned Senior counsel appearing on behalf of plaintiff submitted that the present suit was filed by the Plaintiff before the Original Side of this Court on 20th March, 2015 and now as per the Commercial Court Ordinance, the present suit stands transferred before the Commercial Division of this Court with effect from 15th November, 2015. Therefore, in the light of the proviso of Section 15 (4) of the Commercial Court Ordinance, this Court has the discretion to take on record the written statement filed by the plaintiff on 5th December, 2015 inasmuch as the timelines as laid down by the Commercial Courts Ordinance will become applicable to the present case from 15th November, 2015.

The Court while relying on Dr. Sukhdev Singh Gambhir v. Amrit Pal Singh, ILR (2003) I Delhi 577 held that since the parties were trying to resolve their dispute amicably and that process took 59 days, the said period is to be excluded from the period provided in the Civil Procedure Code and Clause 4D(i) of Commercial Courts Ordinance. The Court also held that the present suit squarely falls under the said exemption and therefore provides for extended timelines for completion of pleadings as per the prior statute. The Court also said that the prescribed period of 120 days’ timeline will be applicable in cases filed subsequent to the notification of the Ordinance and the same is not applicable in the present case. [Telefonaktiebolaget L.M Ericsson v. Lava International Ltd., 2015 SCC OnLine Del 13990, decided on December 9, 2015]

Case BriefsSupreme Court

Supreme Court: In a divorce matter, where the wife was found suffering from a life threatening disease, the Court held that it is a duty of the husband to take care of the health and safety of the wife and provide facilities for the her treatment.

The husband had sought divorce on ground that his wife had committed various acts of cruelty after solemnization of their marriage. The matter was later transferred to the Supreme Court Mediation Centre where the husband had agreed to pay Rs.12,50,000 towards full and final settlement as alimony, maintenance for past and future or any other claim of the petitioner-wife. In a subsequent application it was urged that divorce be granted by way of mutual consent as the petitioner-wife was in urgent need of funds for her medical treatment.

Considering the abovementioned facts, the bench of M.Y. Eqbal and C. Nagappan, JJ said that it cannot be ruled out that in order to save her life by getting money, the petitioner-wife agreed for a settlement of dissolution of marriage. The Court further said that it is a pre-existing duty of the husband to look after her comforts and not only to provide her food and clothes but to protect her from all calamities and to take care of her health and safety.

Directing the husband to pay Rs. 5, 00, 000 out of Rs.12,50,000/- to the petitioner-wife immediately within a week for her treatment and meeting other medical expenses, the Court held that After the petitioner is fully cured from the disease or within six months whichever is earlier, the Family Court at Hyderabad, where the divorce petition is ordered to be transferred, shall take up the case along with a fresh application that may be filed by the parties under Section 13B of the Hindu Marriage Act, 1955 for divorce by mutual consent.[ Vennangot Anuradha Samir v. Vennangot Mohandas Samir, 2015 SCC OnLine SC 1266, decided on 02.12.2015]

Supreme Court

Supreme Court: Dealing with an important question that whether continuance of criminal proceedings in case of loans taken from banks on the basis of forged documents would be an unnecessary load on the criminal justice dispensation system once the parties have entered into a settlement, the bench of Dipak Misra and P.C. Pantt, JJ held that a grave criminal offence or serious economic offence or for that matter the offence that has the potentiality to create a dent in the financial health of the institutions, is not to be quashed on the ground that there is delay in trial or the principle that when the matter has been settled it should be quashed to avoid the load on the system.

In the case where the respondent, a former Assistant Commissioner of Commercial Taxes along with her late husband applied for loans on the basis of forged documents in more than one bank, advanced a plea that she had signed the documents either as a guarantor or as a co-applicant, and that she is a lady and she was following her late husband’s commands, the Court rejected her plea after considering that the respondent who has voluntarily retired from the post of Assistant Commissioner of Commercial Taxes and thereafter became a member of Rajya Sabha. The Court noted that the assertions as regards the ignorance are a mere pretence and sans substance given the facts. Lack of awareness, knowledge or intent is neither to be considered nor accepted in economic offences.

Unimpressed by the argument based on the gender of the respondent, the Court went on to say that an offence under the criminal law is an offence and it does not depend upon the gender of an accused. Though there are certain provisions in CrPC relating to exercise of jurisdiction under Section 437, etc. therein but that altogether pertains to a different sphere. A person committing a murder or getting involved in a financial scam or forgery of documents, cannot claim discharge or acquittal on the ground of her gender as that is neither constitutionally nor statutorily a valid argument. State v. R. Vasanthi Stanley2015 SCC OnLine SC 815, decided on 15.09.2015

Supreme Court

Supreme Court: Coming down heavily upon the laxity observed by the Madhya Pradesh High Court in exercising its appellate jurisdiction in the present case wherein the High Court, without proper appreciation of the evidence and considering the compromise entered between the rape victim and the respondent, converted the offence committed by the respondent under Section 376 IPC to that under Section 354 IPC, thereby confining the sentence to the period of custody already undergone, the Division Bench of Dipak Misra and P.C. Pant, JJ., observed that in cases of rape where the dignity of woman is brutally defiled, compromise or settlement between the parties is absolutely no solution. The Bench went on to state that the courts should refrain from adopting a liberal approach or any thoughts of mediation between the parties, for these approaches will be nothing short of a spectacular error.

In the present case, the respondent’s conviction by the Sessions Judge, Guna under Section 376 (2)(f) of IPC for raping a 7 year old girl was reversed by the High Court, by converting the offence to that under Section 354 IPC, thus restricting the term of sentence. C.D. Singh appearing for the appellant contended that the High Court is duty bound under its appellate jurisdiction to re-appreciate the evidence and arrive at a proper decision. While Asha J. Madan, appearing for the respondent, did not find any fault with the decision of the High Court.

The Bench expressed its annoyance upon the laconic approach of the High Court in dealing with the present case, thereby puncturing the criminal justice dispensation system. While referring to relevant precedents, the Court was of the opinion that an appellate court has a duty to appreciate all the important features of a case. The Court further observed that High Court being influenced by the compromise entered between the parties adopted a liberal approach which is impermissible. Thus on perusal of the facts, the Court ordered the matter to be remitted to the High Court for reappraisal of the evidence and for a fresh decision. State of M.P. v. Madanlal,  2015 SCC OnLine SC 579, decided on 01.07.2015