As India witnesses rise in matrimonial disputes, the Supreme Court on Friday ruled that courts can now quash FIRs even in non-compoundable cases, if the parties reach an amicable settlement about their matrimonial disputes.
Non-compoundable cases are those in which courts don't have the liberty to quash FIRs on the basis of settlements reached between the parties.
"If the parties ponder over their defaults and terminate their disputes amicably by mutual agreement instead of fighting it out in a court of law, in order to do complete justice in the matrimonial matters, the courts should be less hesitant in exercising…extraordinary jurisdiction (under Section 482 of the Criminal Procedure Code)" a three-judge bench headed by justice P Sathasivam said.
"Even if the offences are non-compoundable, if they relate to matrimonial disputes and the court is satisfied that the parties have settled the same amicably and without any pressure, we hold that for the purpose of securing ends of justice, Section 320 of the Code would not be a bar to the exercise of power of quashing of FIR, complaint or the subsequent criminal proceedings," it ruled.
The bench reversed a judgment of the Madhya Pradesh High Court, which had refused to quash a criminal case of cruelty, dowry demand and criminal breach of trust registered against a man from Baitul at the behest of his wife in 2003.
Later, with the intervention of family members the couple reached a settlement in 2012 and they wanted the FIR to be quashed. But the trial court declined their prayer forcing them to approach the high court. They couple wanted the HC to invoke its inherent powers under Section 482 of the Code to quash the criminal proceedings. But the HC too dismissed their plea.
However, the SC reversed the HC's verdict saying, "It is the duty of the courts to encourage genuine settlements of matrimonial disputes…"