Criminal proceedings in heinous and serious criminal offences cannot be quashed by courts on the ground that the accused and the victim have compromised, the Supreme Court ruled today.
“Heinous and serious offences of mental depravity or offences like murder, rape, dacoity, etc cannot be fittingly quashed even though the victim or victim’s family and the offender have settled the dispute. Such offences are not private in nature and have serious impact on society,” a bench headed by Justice R M Lodha said.
The bench, however, said the high court can quash criminal cases which are civil in nature.
“The criminal cases having overwhelmingly and pre-dominantly civil flavour stand on different footing for the purposes of quashing, particularly the offences arising from commercial, financial, mercantile, civil, partnership or such like transactions or the offences arising out of matrimony relating to dowry etc or the family disputes where the wrong is basically private or personal in nature and the parties have resolved their entire dispute,” the bench said.
It said the high courts may quash criminal proceedings if in their view, because of the compromise between the offender and the victim, the possibility of conviction is remote and bleak and continuation of criminal case would put accused to great oppression.
The apex court said before quashing a criminal case the high court “must consider whether it would be unfair or contrary to the interest of justice to continue with the criminal proceeding or continuation of the criminal proceeding would tantamount to abuse of the process of law despite settlement and compromise between the victim and wrongdoer.”