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Non- compoundable cases , if compromised, can be quashed under inherent powers =It is manifest that simply because an offence is not compoundable under Section 320 IPC is by itself no reason for the High Court to refuse exercise of its power under Section 482 Cr.P.C. That power can in our opinion be exercised in cases where there is no chance of recording a conviction against the accused and the entire exercise of a trial is destined to be an exercise in futility. There is a subtle distinction between compounding of offences by the parties before the trial Court or in appeal on one hand and the exercise of power by the High Court to quash the prosecution under Section 482 Cr.P.C. on the other. While a Court trying an accused or hearing an appeal 14

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REPORTABLE


 IN THE SUPREME COURT OF INDIA

 CRIMINAL APPELLATE JURISDICTION

 CRIMINAL APPEAL NO.2094 OF 2011

 (Arising out of SLP (Crl.) No.9919 of 2010)

Shiji @ Pappu and Ors. ...Appellants

 Versus

Radhika and Anr. ...Respondents

 J U D G M E N T

T.S. THAKUR, J.

1. Leave granted.

2. This appeal arises out of an order passed by the High 

Court of Kerala at Ernakulam, whereby Criminal M.C. no. 3715 

of 2010 filed under Section 482 of the Code of Criminal 

 1

Procedure, 1973, with a prayer for quashing criminal 

proceedings in FIR No.6/2010 alleging commission of offences 

punishable under Sections 354 and 394 of the IPC, has been 

dismissed. The High Court has taken the view that the 

offences with which the appellants stand charged, are not 

'personal in nature' so as to justify quashing the pending 

criminal proceedings on the basis of a compromise arrived at 

between the first informant-complainant and the appellants. 

The only question that, therefore, arises for consideration is 

whether the criminal proceedings in question could be quashed 

in the facts and circumstances of the case having regard to the 

settlement that the parties had arrived at. 

3. Respondent-Radhika filed an oral complaint in the Police 

Station at Nemom in the State of Kerala, stating that she had 

accompanied her husband to see a site which the latter had 

acquired at Punjakari. Upon arrival at the site, her husband and 

brother Rajesh went inside the plot while she waited for them 

near the car parked close by. Three youngsters at this stage 

appeared on a motorbike, one of whom snatched the purse and 

mobile phone from her hands while the other hit her on the 

 2

cheek and hand. She raised an alarm that brought her husband 

and brother rushing to the car by which time the offenders 

escaped towards Karumam on a motorcycle. The complainant 

gave the registration number of the motorbike to the police 

and sought action against the appellants who were named by 

her in the statement made before the Additional Police Sub-

Inspector attached to the Nemom Police Station. FIR 

No.6/2010 was, on the basis of that statement, registered in 

the police station and investigation started. A charge sheet 

was, in due course, filed against the appellants before the 

Judicial Magistrate First Class, Neyyattinkara, eventually 

numbered CC 183/2010. 

4. During the pendency of the criminal proceedings 

aforementioned, the parties appear to have amicably settled 

the matter among themselves. Criminal M.C. No.3715 of 2010 

under Section 482 Cr.P.C. was on that basis filed before the 

High Court of Kerala at Ernakulam for quashing of the 

complaint pending before the Judicial Magistrate First Class, 

Neyyattinkara. That prayer was made primarily on the premise 

that appellant No.1 Shiji @ Pappu who also owns a parcel of 

 3

land adjacent to the property purchased by the respondent-

Radhika, had some dispute in regard to the road leading to the 

two properties. An altercation had in that connection taken 

place between the appellants on the one hand and the husband 

and brother of the respondent on the other, culminating in the 

registration of the FIR mentioned above. The petition further 

stated that all disputes civil and criminal between the parties 

had been settled amicably and that the respondent had no 

grievance against the appellants in relation to the access to the 

plots in question and that the respondent had no objection to 

the criminal proceedings against the appellants being quashed 

by the High Court in exercise of its power under Section 482 

Cr.P.C. The petition further stated that the disputes between 

the parties being personal in nature the same could be taken 

as settled and the proceedings put to an end relying upon the 

decision of this Court in Madan Mohan Abbot v. State of 

Punjab (2008) 4 SCC 582. An affidavit sworn by the 

respondent stating that the matter stood settled between the 

parties was also filed by the appellants before the High Court. 

The High Court has upon consideration declined the prayer 

 4

made by the appellants holding that the offences committed by 

the appellants were not of a personal nature so as to justify 

quashing of the proceedings in exercise of its extra-ordinary 

jurisdiction under Section 482 Cr.P.C. 

5. We have heard learned counsel for the parties and 

perused the impugned order. Section 320 of the Cr.P.C. enlists 

offences that are compoundable with the permission of the 

Court before whom the prosecution is pending and those that 

can be compounded even without such permission. An offence 

punishable under Section 354 of the IPC is in terms of Section 

320(2) of the Code compoundable at the instance of the 

woman against whom the offence is committed. To that extent, 

therefore, there is no difficulty in either quashing the 

proceedings or compounding the offence under Section 354, of 

which the appellants are accused, having regard to the fact 

that the alleged victim of the offence has settled the matter 

with the alleged assailants. An offence punishable under 

Section 394 IPC is not, however, compoundable with or without 

the permission of the Court concerned. The question is whether 

the High Court could and ought to have exercised its power 

 5

under Section 482 Cr.P.C. for quashing the prosecution under 

the said provision in the light of the compromise that the 

parties have arrived at. 

6. Learned counsel for the appellants submitted that the first 

informant-complainant had, in the affidavit filed before this 

Court, clearly admitted that the complaint in question was 

lodged by her on account of a misunderstanding and 

misconception about the facts and that the offences of which 

the appellants stand accused are purely personal in nature 

arising out of personal disputes between the parties. It was 

also evident that the complainant was no longer supporting the 

version on which the prosecution rested its case against the 

appellants. According to the learned counsel there was no 

question of the Trial Court recording a conviction against the 

appellants in the light of what the complainant had stated on 

affidavit. That was all the more so, when the other two 

prosecution witnesses were none other than the husband and 

the brother of the complainant who too were not supporting 

the charges against the appellants. Such being the case, 

continuance of criminal trial against the appellants was nothing 

 6

but an abuse of the process of law and waste of valuable time 

of the Courts below. Exercise of power by the High Court under 

Section 482 Cr.P.C. to prevent such abuse is perfectly justified, 

contended the learned counsel. Reliance in support was placed 

by the learned counsel upon the decision of this Court in 

Madan Mohan Abbot's case (supra). 

7. This Court has, in several decisions, declared that offences 

under Section 320 Cr.P.C. which are not compoundable with or 

without the permission of the Court cannot be allowed to be 

compounded. In Ram Lal and Anr. v. State of J & K (1999) 

2 SCC 213, this Court referred to Section 320(9) of the Cr.P.C. 

to declare that such offences as are made compoundable under 

Section 320 can alone be compounded and none else. This 

Court declared two earlier decisions rendered in Y. Suresh 

Babu v. State of Andhra Pradesh, JT (1987) 2 SC 361 and 

Mahesh Chand v. State of Rajasthan, 1990 Supp. SCC 

681, to be per incuriam in as much as the same permitted 

composition of offences not otherwise compoundable under 

Section 320 of the Cr.P.C. What is important, however, is that 

in Ram Lal's case (supra) the parties had settled the dispute 

 7

among themselves after the appellants stood convicted under 

Section 326 IPC. The mutual settlement was then sought to be 

made a basis for compounding of the offence in appeal arising 

out of the order of conviction and sentence imposed upon the 

accused. This Court observed that since the offence was non-

compoundable, the court could not permit the same to be 

compounded, in the teeth of Section 320. Even so, the 

compromise was taken as an extenuating circumstance which 

the court took into consideration to reduce the punishment 

awarded to the appellant to the period already undergone. To 

the same effect is the decision of this Court in Ishwar Singh 

v. State of Madhya Pradesh (2008) 15 SCC 667; where 

this Court said:

 "14. In our considered opinion, it would not be 

 appropriate to order compounding of an offence not 

 compoundable under the Code ignoring and keeping 

 aside statutory provisions. In our judgment, however, 

 limited submission of the learned counsel for the 

 appellant deserves consideration that while imposing 

 substantive sentence, the factum of compromise 

 between the parties is indeed a relevant circumstance 

 which the Court may keep in mind."

8. There is another line of decisions in which this Court has 

taken note of the compromise arrived at between the parties 

 8

and quashed the prosecution in exercise of powers vested in 

the High Court under Section 482 Cr.P.C. In State of 

Karnataka v. L. Muniswamy & Ors. (1977) 2 SCC 699 this 

Court held that the High Court was entitled to quash the 

proceedings if it came to the conclusion that the ends of justice 

so required. This Court observed:

 ".....Section 482 of the new Code, which corresponds to 

 Section 561-A o the Code of 1898, provides that:

 "Nothing in this Code shall be deemed to limit, or 

 affect the inherent powers of the High Court to 

 make such orders as may be necessary to give 

 effect to any order under this Code or to prevent 

 abuse of the process of any Court or otherwise to 

 secure the ends of justice."

 In the exercise of this wholesome power, the High 

 Court is entitled to quash a proceeding if it comes to 

 the conclusion that allowing the proceeding to continue 

 would be an abuse of the process of the Court or that 

 the ends of justice require that the proceeding ought to 

 be quashed. The saving of the High Court's inherent 

 powers, both in civil and criminal matters is designed to 

 achieve a salutary public purpose which is that a court 

 proceeding ought not to be permitted to degenerate 

 into a weapon of harassment or persecution. In a 

 criminal case, the veiled object behind a lame 

 prosecution, the very nature of the material on which 

 the structure of the prosecution rests and the like 

 would justify the High Court in quashing the proceeding 

 in the interest of justice. The ends of justice are higher 

 than the ends of mere law though justice has got to be 

 administered according to laws made by the legislature. 

 The compelling necessity for making these observations 

 is that without a proper realisation of the object and 

 purpose of the provision which seeks to save the 

 inherent powers of the High Court to do justice 

 between the State and its subjects it would be 

 9

 impossible to appreciate the width and contours of that 

 salient jurisdiction."

9. In Madhavrao Jiwajirao Scindia and Ors. v. 

Sambhajirao Chandrojirao Angre and Ors. (1988) 1 SCC 

692, this Court held that the High Court should take into 

account any special features which appear in a particular case 

to consider whether it is expedient and in the interest of justice 

to permit a prosecution to continue or quash the prosecution 

where in its opinion the chances of an ultimate conviction are 

bleak. This Court observed:

 "7. The legal position is well settled that when a 

 prosecution at the initial stage is asked to be quashed, 

 the test to be applied by the court is as to whether the 

 uncontroverted allegations as made prima facie 

 establish the offence. It is also for the court to take into 

 consideration any special features which appear in a 

 particular case to consider whether it is expedient and 

 in the interest of justice to permit a prosecution to 

 continue. This is so on the basis that the court cannot 

 be utilised for any oblique purpose and where in the 

 opinion of the court chances of an ultimate conviction 

 are bleak and, therefore, no useful purpose is likely to 

 be served by allowing a criminal prosecution to 

 continue, the court may while taking into consideration 

 the special facts of a case also quash the proceeding 

 even though it may be at a preliminary stage."

10. In B.S Joshi and Ors. v. State of Haryana, (2003) 4 

SCC 675, the question that fell for consideration before this 

 10

Court was whether the inherent powers vested in the High 

Court under Section 482 Cr.P.C. could be exercised to quash 

non-compoundable offences. The High Court had, in that case 

relying upon the decision of this Court in Madhu Limaye v. 

The State of Maharashtra, (1977) 4 SC 551, held that 

since offences under Sections 498-A and 406 IPC were not 

compoundable, it was not permissible in law to quash the FIR 

on the ground that there has been a settlement between the 

parties. This Court declared that the decisions in Madhu 

Limaye's case (supra) had been misread and misapplied by 

the High Court and that the judgment of this Court in Madhu 

Limaye's case (supra) clearly supported the view that nothing 

contained in Section 320(2) can limit or affect the exercise of 

inherent power of the High Court if interference by the High 

Court was considered necessary for the parties to secure the 

ends of justice. This Court observed:

 "8. It is, thus, clear that Madhu Limaye case (1977) 

 4 SC 551 does not lay down any general proposition 

 limiting power of quashing the criminal proceedings or 

 FIR or complaint as vested in Section 482 of the Code 

 or extraordinary power under Article 226 of the 

 Constitution of India. We are, therefore, of the view 

 that if for the purpose of securing the ends of justice, 

 quashing of FIR becomes necessary, Section 320 would 

 not be a bar to the exercise of power of quashing. It is, 

 11

 however, a different matter depending upon the facts 

 and circumstances of each case whether to exercise or 

 not such a power.

 15. In view of the above discussion, we hold that the 

 High Court in exercise of its inherent powers can quash 

 criminal proceedings or FIR or complaint and Section 

 320 of the Code does not limit or affect the powers 

 under Section 482 of the Code."

11. That brings to the decision of this Court in Madan Mohan 

Abbot' case (supra) whereby the High Court had declined the 

prayer for quashing of the prosecution for offences punishable 

under Sections 379, 406, 409, 418, 506/34 IPC despite a 

compromise entered into between the complainant and the 

accused. The High Court had taken the view that since the 

offence punishable under Section 406 was not compoundable 

the settlement between the parties could not be recognized nor 

the pending proceedings quashed. This Court summed up the 

approach to be adopted in such cases in the following words:

 "6. We need to emphasise that it is perhaps advisable 

 that in disputes where the question involved is of a 

 purely personal nature, the court should ordinarily 

 accept the terms of the compromise even in criminal 

 proceedings as keeping the matter alive with no 

 possibility of a result in favour of the prosecution is a 

 luxury which the courts, grossly overburdened as they 

 are, cannot afford and that the time so saved can be 

 utilised in deciding more effective and meaningful 

 litigation. This is a common sense approach to the 

 12

 matter based on ground of realities and bereft of the 

 technicalities of the law.

 7. We see from the impugned order that the learned 

 Judge has confused compounding of an offence with 

 the quashing of proceedings. The outer limit of Rs 250 

 which has led to the dismissal of the application is an 

 irrelevant factor in the later case. We, accordingly, 

 allow the appeal and in the peculiar facts of the case 

 direct that FIR No. 155 dated 17-11-2001 PS Kotwali, 

 Amritsar and all proceedings connected therewith shall 

 be deemed to be quashed."

12. To the same effect is the decision of this Court in Nikhil 

Merchant v. CBI 2008(9) SCC 677 where relying upon the 

decision in B.S. Joshi (supra), this Court took note of the 

settlement arrived at between the parties and quashed the 

criminal proceedings for offences punishable under Sections 

420, 467, 468 and 471 read with Section 120-B of IPC and held 

that since the criminal proceedings had the overtone of a civil 

dispute which had been amicably settled between the parties it 

was a fit case where technicality should not be allowed to stand 

in the way of quashing of the criminal proceedings since the 

continuance of the same after the compromise arrived at 

between the parties would be a futile exercise. We may also 

at this stage refer to the decision of this Court in Manoj 

Sharma v. State and Ors. (2008) 16 SCC 1. This court 

observed:

 13

 "8. In our view, the High Court's refusal to exercise its 

 jurisdiction under Article 226 of the Constitution for 

 quashing the criminal proceedings cannot be 

 supported. The first information report, which had 

 been lodged by the complainant indicates a dispute 

 between the complainant and the accused which is of a 

 private nature. It is no doubt true that the first 

 information report was the basis of the investigation by 

 the police authorities, but the dispute between the 

 parties remained one of a personal nature. Once the 

 complainant decided not to pursue the matter further, 

 the High Court could have taken a more pragmatic view 

 of the matter. xxxxxxxxxxxxxx

 9. As we have indicated hereinbefore, the exercise of 

 power under Section 482 CrPC of Article 226 of the 

 Constitution is discretionary to be exercised in the facts 

 of each case. In the facts of this case we are of the 

 view that continuing with the criminal proceedings 

 would be an exercise in futility....." 

13. It is manifest that simply because an offence is not 

compoundable under Section 320 IPC is by itself no reason for 

the High Court to refuse exercise of its power under Section 

482 Cr.P.C. That power can in our opinion be exercised in cases 

where there is no chance of recording a conviction against the 

accused and the entire exercise of a trial is destined to be an 

exercise in futility. There is a subtle distinction between 

compounding of offences by the parties before the trial Court 

or in appeal on one hand and the exercise of power by the High 

Court to quash the prosecution under Section 482 Cr.P.C. on 

the other. While a Court trying an accused or hearing an appeal 

 14

against conviction, may not be competent to permit 

compounding of an offence based on a settlement arrived at 

between the parties in cases where the offences are not 

compoundable under Section 320, the High Court may quash 

the prosecution even in cases where the offences with which 

the accused stand charged are non-compoundable. The 

inherent powers of the High Court under Section 482 Cr.P.C. 

are not for that purpose controlled by Section 320 Cr.P.C. 

Having said so, we must hasten to add that the plenitude of 

the power under Section 482 Cr.P.C. by itself, makes it 

obligatory for the High Court to exercise the same with utmost 

care and caution. The width and the nature of the power itself 

demands that its exercise is sparing and only in cases where 

the High Court is, for reasons to be recorded, of the clear view 

that continuance of the prosecution would be nothing but an 

abuse of the process of law. It is neither necessary nor proper 

for us to enumerate the situations in which the exercise of 

power under Section 482 may be justified. All that we need to 

say is that the exercise of power must be for securing the ends 

of justice and only in cases where refusal to exercise that 

 15

power may result in the abuse of the process of law. The High 

court may be justified in declining interference if it is called 

upon to appreciate evidence for it cannot assume the role of an 

appellate court while dealing with a petition under Section 482 

of the Criminal Procedure Code. Subject to the above, the High 

Court will have to consider the facts and circumstances of each 

case to determine whether it is a fit case in which the inherent 

powers may be invoked.

14. Coming to the case at hand we are of the view that the 

incident in question had its genesis in a dispute relating to the 

access to the two plots which are adjacent to each other. It 

was not a case of broad day light robbery for gain. It was a 

case which has its origin in the civil dispute between the 

parties, which dispute has, it appears, been resolved by them. 

That being so, continuance of the prosecution where the 

complainant is not ready to support the allegations which are 

now described by her as arising out of some "misunderstanding 

and misconception" will be a futile exercise that will serve no 

purpose. It is noteworthy that the two alleged eye witnesses, 

who are closely related to the complainant, are also no longer 

 16

supportive of the prosecution version. The continuance of the 

proceedings is thus nothing but an empty formality. Section 

482 Cr.P.C. could, in such circumstances, be justifiably invoked 

by the High Court to prevent abuse of the process of law and 

thereby preventing a wasteful exercise by the Courts below.

15. We accordingly allow this appeal, set aside the impugned 

order passed by the High Court and quash the prosecution in 

CC 183/2010 pending in the Court of Judicial Magistrate, First 

Class, Neyyattinkara. 

 ...................................J.

 (CYRIAC JOSEPH)

 ...................................J.

New Delhi (T.S. THAKUR)

November 14, 2011 17
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