The Allahabad High Court observed that High Courts can quash the proceedings even after the parties have reached a settlement following a conviction.

The Court allowed an appeal seeking to quash the proceedings in a case under Section 376 of the Indian Penal Code, 1860 (IPC) and Section 3 (2) (v) of the Scheduled Castes and the Scheduled Tribes (Prevention of Atrocities) Act, 1989 (SC/ST Act).

The Court noted that while the Courts should proceed cautiously in dismissing cases involving heinous and serious offences, the High Court retains the authority to assess whether there exists ample evidence to support the charges.

The Bench of Justice Subhash Vidyarthi observed, “though the Courts should be slow in quashing the proceedings wherein heinous and serious offences are involved, the High Court is not foreclosed from examining as to whether there is sufficient evidence which may lead to proving the charges. The High Court can quash the proceedings even in cases where the parties have entered into a settlement after conviction”.

Advocate Ravindra Kumar Dwivedi appeared for the Applicant, Advocate Dharmendra Kumar Tiwari appeared for the Respondent and Additional General Advocate Anurag Verma appeared for the State.

An application was filed seeking to quash proceedings in a case under Section 376 of the Indian Penal Code, 1860 (IPC) and Section 3 (2) (v) of the Scheduled Castes and the Scheduled Tribes (Prevention of Atrocities) Act, 1989 (SC/ST Act), citing a compromise between the parties. The complainant, in her application under Section 156 (3) of the Criminal Procedure Code, 1973 (CrPC), accused the applicant, a police constable, of rape. The investigating officer filed a final report stating that the complaint was false and filed under pressure. The complaint was accepted, and the applicant was summoned for trial. A compromise was reached, verified by a Notary Public, with both parties agreeing to quash the proceedings. The respondent also supports the application. The State opposes, citing the seriousness of the offence and recent legal precedent.

The Court referred to the Supreme Court Judgment in the case of Daxaben v The State of Gujarat and others, and reiterated that serious crimes like murder, rape, and abetment to suicide, which impact society, cannot be quashed based on a compromise between the parties. The prosecution cannot be halted when the offence is serious and falls under crimes against society.

The legal principles which can be culled out from a collective reading of the foresaid precedents, are that the extraordinary powers of the High Courts under Section 482 Cr.P.C. can be invoked beyond the metes and bounds of Section 320 Cr.P.C. Such powers ought to be exercised carefully in the context of quashing criminal proceedings, bearing in mind the nature and effect of the offence on the conscience of the society; the seriousness of the injury, if any, the voluntary nature of compromise between the accused and the victim, the conduct of the accused persons and the other relevant considerations”, the Court noted.

Furthermore, the Court emphasized that while Courts should be cautious in quashing proceedings for serious offences, the High Court has the authority to assess the evidence and can quash proceedings even if a settlement is reached after conviction. The overarching goal when invoking Section 482 CrPC is to ensure justice, and there should be no rigid limitations on the High Court's ability to deliver substantial justice, as overly restrictive interpretations may lead to injustice.

When we examine the facts of the present case in light of the aforesaid law, what we find is that after registration of the F.I.R. pursuant to an application under Section 156 (3) Cr.P.C., the Investigating Officer had found that the allegations levelled by the opposite party no.2 could not be established as no evidence could be collected in support thereof”, the Bench observed. The complainant, influenced by an accused party in another case, had filed the FIR to pressure the police.

In the compromise, the Bench emphasized that the complainant admitted misunderstanding and stated that the applicant was not guilty. With no evidence supporting the rape allegation and the victim retracting her statement, proceeding with the criminal case would only unjustly persecute the applicant and the complainant.

Accordingly, the Court allowed the Appeal and set aside the proceedings.

Cause Title: X v State Of UP (2024:AHC-LKO:10863)

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