The Himachal Pradesh High Court has reiterated that while dealing with the petition moved by the parents or guardians of the sexual assault victim to quash the criminal proceedings on the ground of compromise, the Court must consider whether settlement is in the best interest of the minor victim and whether continuation of the proceedings against the accused and the participation of the minor victim in those proceedings would adversely affect the mental, physical and emotional well being of the latter.

In light of the same, the Bench of Justice Ranjan Sharma observed that, "the FIR and the criminal proceedings therefrom need to be quashed and set-aside, so as to meet the ends of justice. Giving a quietus to entire criminal proceedings/action shall promote harmony, orderly behavior and conduct amongst themselves.Any reverse action in continuing with the FIR and criminal proceedings shall lead to reviving bitterness, restoring inimical relations not only amongst themselves but may adversely affect their respective families and relations also. The societal effect of continuing with the proceedings shall lead to tarnishing the reputation, spoiling her life, irreparable harassment and hardships not only to the Respondent No.2-Victim [‘X’], but also his offspring, which can never be the intent of law. Lastly, the continuance of proceedings [in FIR and criminal proceedings therefrom] shall not entail any fruitful result when, the complainant and the Respondent No.2-Victim [‘X’] alleged victim have decided not to continue with these proceedings. Even the pendency will lead to cloaking the docket of the State Authorities and the Court(s), knowing that it will end in futile exercise."

Counsel Manoj Pathak and Counsel Harsh Shroal appeared for the petitioner, while Deputy AG Ajit Sharma appeared for the respondents.

The petitioner filed a petition under Section 482 of the CrPC seeking to quash FIR No.85 of 2023, which alleged offences under Sections 376 of the IPC and Section 4 of the POCSO Act.

The petitioner claimed that the matter had been amicably settled due to intervention from family members, as they had married even before the FIR was filed. The State Authorities confirmed the marriage and stated that the couple had a child. Respondent No.2, the victim, appeared before the Court and confirmed the marriage, expressing no grudges against the petitioner.

The complainant also corroborated the marriage and stated that she did not intend to pursue the complaint. Considering the harmonious relationship between the petitioner and respondent No.2, the court deemed it appropriate to quash the FIR to maintain peace and promote family harmony.

The Court placed reliance on a catena of judgments, including Ranjeet Kumar vs State of HP & Ors., wherein it was held that before quashing FIR & consequential proceedings, the Courts must be satisfied after considering the attending facts and circumstances of the case that quashing of proceedings would promote justice for the victim and continuance of the proceedings would cause in justice.

Subsequently, the Court observed that, "In view of the peculiar facts of the instant case, the petitioner and respondent No.2-Victim [‘X’] had bitterness leading towards the accusation in FIR; but now since the petitioner and respondent No.2 have solemnized their marriage and have an offspring now; and both have cordial relation and have no grudges against either of them as of now. This Court ensured the presence of the Respondent No.2-Victim [‘X’] who corroborated the factum of marriage, an offspring from their wedlock with the petitioner. Even the complainant, on being present this Court has corroborated the factum of their marriage as well as the child born therefrom and the cordial relations inter se. In this backdrop, this Court is satisfied that the FIR and the criminal proceedings therefrom need to be quashed and set-aside, so as to meet the ends of justice."

In light of the same, the Court rendered the FIR and the consequential criminal proceedings as inoperative for all intents and purposes.

Cause Title: ABC vs State of Himachal Pradesh & Anr.

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