Delhi High Court in a significant ruling has said that FIRs in certain criminal cases cannot be quashed immediately even if parties arrive at an out-of-court compromise.
The court said it needs to be looked into if the decision would affect the peace and tranquillity in a particular locality. Justice ML Mehta said discretion must be exercised while compounding (allowing out of court settlement) offences which are a menace to residents of a particular area and embolden the “bad characters” there.
“Crimes are offences against the society. Its repercussions are inflicted upon every person who is a part of a civilised society. A settlement arrived between two parties in a criminal offence cannot become the touchstone for arriving at the decision of quashing the proceedings in such cases,” Justice Mehta said.
A FIR quashing a plea was filed by two “bad characters” in Najafgarh area after they arrived at a settlement with the victim. They were charged under Sections 323 (voluntarily causing hurt), 336 (act endangering human life) and 452(house trespass) of the Indian Penal Code filed by a property dealer Kanhiya Lal on May 5, 2012.
Lal alleged the two along with another person, while they were drunk, came to his office and entered into an altercation with him. One of them fired at a TV set, damaging it, while the other hit his head with a beer bottle and assaulted him. Dismissing the plea to quash the FIR, the court considered various factors.
The offence, it said, was serious in nature. The victim had done nothing to provoke them. The attack was not in self-defence or in the heat of the moment. The petitioner was the “bad character” of the area and feared by the people of the locality because of criminal antecedents. There are admittedly as many as eight FIRs lodged against him, including murder.