Cannot set aside convictions based on compromise between parties: Bombay HC
The Bombay high court has ruled it is not permissible to ordinarily set aside convictions for non-compoundable offences at appellate or revisional stage only on the grounds of compromise between the parties.
A three-judge bench said the high courts should exercise powers under section 482 of the Criminal Procedure Code (CrPC) to set aside such convictions “only in rarest of rare cases,” when found necessary to prevent the abuse of the process or to secure justice. It added any compromise entered into post-conviction for a non-compoundable offence cannot itself result in acquittals. “Similarly, the court has no power to compound an offence, which is not permitted to be compounded under Section 320....”
The compromise entered into, therefore, is just a mitigating factor, the bench said. It added such a compromise can be taken into account by an appeal or revisional court for the purpose of imposing an appropriate sentence.
The three-judge bench was hearing a reference on whether the power under Section 482 ought to be exercised for setting aside a conviction altogether upon a settlement between the convict and the victim.
The issue was referred for consideration of the larger bench after a two-member bench refused to accept the view taken by a division bench at Aurangabad, striking down a conviction on the grounds of settlement between the parties.
The two-judge bench observed that maintaining cordial relations between the convict and victim, in that case, was in the larger interest of the society and therefore inherent powers under Section 482 were required to be invoked to set aside the conviction.
The three-judge bench cautioned against a casual approach in setting aside convictions on the grounds of settlement. It said if a conviction cannot be set aside in an appeal or revision on merits, such a result cannot be achieved using Section 482 when the parties have compromised.