The Kerala High Court recently while quashing proceedings against an accused for an offence under Section 379 Indian Penal Code (Punishment for theft), has observed that chain snatching is private in nature, and any settlement or a compromise arrived at between the parties, can be accepted by Courts.

A bench of Justice P.V. Kunhikrishnan thus while referring to the Apex Court's judgment in Madhya Pradesh v Laxmi Narayan and Others, 2019 (5) SCC 688 observed, “…this court perused the facts in this case and also perused the documents produced by the parties. After going through the entire facts and circumstances I am of the considered opinion that the dispute is private in nature and the settlement can be accepted”.

Advocate C.K. Jayakumar appeared for the petitioner and PP MP Prasanth appeared for the respondent.

In the present criminal miscellaneous case, the prosecution’s case was that, while the de facto complainant was walking through the road, the accused had snatched the gold chain worn on the neck of the de facto complainant with the intention to commit theft.

The petitioner while relying on the affidavit filed by the victim, thus submitted that the parties have settled their dispute and do not wish to pursue the prosecution proceedings further. The counsel appearing for the victim also submitted that the matter is settled and the victim had no objection in quashing the prosecution.

The state, however, expressed reservations about quashing the proceedings solely on the basis of the settlement, but conceded that the matter is settled between the parties.

Therefore, considering the settlement between the parties and the nature of the crime, the bench while allowing, quashed the criminal proceedings pending before the Judicial First Class Magistrate Court-II, Kochi.

It is pertinent to note that in Lakshmi Narayan’s case, a three judge bench of the Supreme Court had observed, “….v) while exercising the power under S.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.”

Cause Title: Sebastian Unni v. State Of Kerala [Neutral Citation: 2023/KER/74195]

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