Emphasizing that the permission for compounding of offence to be accorded or not depends upon the nature of the offences alleged, the Kerala High Court clarified that the offences alleged are compoundable with the permission of the Court as the complainant has received the said amount.

However, pointing out that the circumstances under which the complainant has resiled from the composition of the offences have not been placed, the High Court granted liberty to the victims to move a petition seeking composition of the offences alleged, if so advised.

A Single Judge Bench of Justice K. Babu observed that “the indisputable position of law is that composition of a compoundable offence coming under Sub-section (1) is complete as soon as the Court accepts it and it has the effect of acquittal of the accused even if the person by whom offence may be compounded later resiled from the composition.”

The offences involved are compoundable with the permission of the Court, unless and until the Court has granted permission, the composition does not have any consequences”, added the Bench.

Advocate Prabhu K. N. appeared for the Petitioner whereas the Public Prosecutor represented the Respondent.

The brief facts of the case were that the petitioner faces charges under Sections 406 and 420 of IPC. The prosecution case is that the petitioner, on a false promise to arrange a job visa to Australia, collected some amount from respondent No. 1. It was also alleged that the petitioner obtained wrongful gain, causing wrongful loss to the victim. At the same time, the petitioner pleaded that the dispute was already settled by the petitioner and the Victim, during the stage of Investigation. The victim filed a statement before the Investigating Officer that she had settled the dispute and did not intend to prosecute the offence. The Investigating Officer informed the Magistrate that the victim received Rs.1,75,000/- as a full and final settlement. The victim later submitted before the Magistrate that she was not pressing the application seeking composition, and the Magistrate dismissed the application as not pressed. Notice was served to the victim, but she did not turn up.

After considering the submission, the Bench found from a reading of Section 320 of the Cr. P. C. that the composition is a unilateral act, and a joint application by the accused and the victim is not a requirement of Section 320.

While pointing that the moment a petition for composition is filed, it has the effect of acquittal under Sub-section (8) of Section 320, the Bench clarified that if the Court is satisfied that the composition is voluntary, genuine, and true, it has no other option but to accept it. Then the composition has the effect of acquittal.

The Bench also observed that even in the case of offences compoundable without the permission of the Court, the satisfaction of the Court as to whether the composition is genuine, true and voluntary is essential. Necessarily, when the Court satisfies itself that the composition is true, genuine, and voluntary, the composition shall have the effect of acquittal.

The Bench expressed under the light of Section 320 (2) of Cr.P.C that the Magistrate has to perform the judicial act of deciding whether the parties should be allowed to compromise in the interest of justice.

Unless and until the Court has given its sanction, the so-called composition has no legal effect and cannot be taken cognizance of by any Court dealing with the offence. Such a composition is ineffective and does not deprive the Court of its jurisdiction to try the case”, added the Bench.

Accordingly, on finding no reason to interfere, the High Court disposed of the case.

Cause Title: Johnson Stephen v. Chinchumol and Anr. [Neutral Citation: 2023: KER: 64794]

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