With several scams hitting national headlines, the Supreme Court on Monday ruled that corruption cases involving public servants cannot be quashed by high courts even though the victim and the offender have settled the dispute.
“Any compromise between the victim and offender in relation to the offences under special statutes under special statutes like Prevention of Corruption Act or the offences committed by public servants cannot provide for any basis for quashing criminal proceedings involving such offences,” a three-judge bench headed by justice RM Lodha said.
“Heinous 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," the bench said. Earlier, a two-judge SC bench had referred the issue to a larger bench for laying down the legal proposition on the issue.
Clarifying the legal position on a HC’s inherent power under Section 482 of the CrPC for quashing an FIR on the ground of compounding the offence, the bench said: “In what cases power to quash the criminal proceeding or complaint or FIR may be exercised where the offender and victim have settled their dispute would depend on the facts and circumstances of each case and no category can be prescribed."
The bench, however, said HCs must give due regard to the nature and gravity of the crime while exercising their power.
“But the criminal cases having pre-dominatingly civil flavour stand on different footing for the purposes of quashing,” the bench said.
“In these cases, HC may quash criminal proceedings if in its view, because of the compromise between the offender and victim, the possibility of conviction is remote and continuation of criminal case would put accused to great oppression and extreme injustice," it added.