Compromise deed must state reasons for settlement for quashing of FIR and criminal proceedings: P&H HC

While leaving not even an iota of doubt, the Punjab and Haryana High Court in a learned, laudable, landmark and latest judgment titled Narinder Singh and another Vs State of Punjab and another in CRM-M No. 22725 of 2021 delivered recently on February 4, 2022 has made it clear that High Courts are empowered under Section 482 of CrPC to quash FIR and further criminal proceedings, even for non-compoundable offences, if a compromise has been reached and the matter is personal. However, to seek such quashing, the compromise deed must not have inconsistencies and must state clear and specific reasons for the compromise. This is a prerequisite without which there can certainly be no quashing of FIR and criminal proceedings.

To start with, this brief, brilliant, bold and balanced judgment authored by a single Judge Bench of Justice Anoop Chitkara of the Punjab and Haryana High Court first and foremost states in para 1 that, “FIR No. 83 Dated 04.04.2021 Police Station Kotwali Kapurthala, District Kapurthala Sections 452, 307, 336, 148, 149 IPC, 1860 and Sections 25 and 27 of the Arms Act, 1959. The petitioners who have been arraigned as accused in the above captioned FIR, have come up before this Court under Section 482 CrPC for quashing of the FIR and all consequential proceedings based on the compromise with the victim.”

To put things in perspective, the Bench then envisages in para 2 that, “The gist of the allegations against the petitioners is that the police recorded the statement of Inderjit Singh under Section 154 Cr.P.C. in which he stated that on 04.04.2021 at about 4:00 p.m. he along with his son-Sher Singh and his partner-Banarasi Dass were sitting in the Haveli. At this time, three vehicles stopped there and 10-12 unknown persons alongwith Narinder Singh alias Lovely-the present petitioner and his son alighted from the vehicles. Narinder Singh was carrying a 12 bore double barrel gun and Nawab Singh was holding a revolver. After that they fired shot in the air. Based on this, the police registered the FIR as mentioned above.”

While continuing in the same vein, the Bench then states in para 3 that, “During the pendency of the petition, the accused and the injured have compromised the matter, and its copy is annexed with this petition as Annexure P-2, which form part of the petition. After that, the petitioners came up before this Court to quash the FIR, and in the quashing petition, the injured has been impleaded as respondent.”

As we see, the Bench then discloses in para 4 that, “On the prayer of the parties in the present petition, the Court had permitted the parties vide order dated 28.07.2021 to appear before the concerned Court to record their statements. As per the concerned Court’s report, the victim without any threat, consented to the quashing of FIR and consequent proceedings.”

As it turned out, the Bench then while drawing attention to the compromise deed points out in para 6 that, “The injured appeared before the Court of Judicial Magistrate Ist Class, Kapurthala on 03.08.2021 and made the following statement on oath:

“ Stated that the FIR No.83 dated 04.04.2021 with PS Kotwali, District Kapurthala was registered under Section 452/307/336/148/149 IPC r.w.s 25 Arms Act at the instance of Inderjit Singh complainant and Sher Singh s/o complainant was present at the said time. We the complainant and Sher Singh have effected voluntarily compromised with the accused Narinder Singh and his son Nawab Singh named as accused in the said FIR, As per the compromise we (Complainant and his son) do not intent to take any action in the matter of the said FIR against the accused. The original compromise deed in the shape of affidavit has been handed over to the counsel at Chandigarh for filing the petition for quashing the FIR and shall be produced before this Court after bringing the same from Chandigarh. The compromise is voluntarily and genuine. The accused named in the FIR have already been granted anticipatory bail by the Ld. Court in the said FIR. The entire claim between the parties has already been settled to their satisfaction. We the complainant and his son Sher Singh have no objection if the aforesaid FIR is ordered to be quashed as prayed for.””

Notably, the Bench then mentions in para 7 that, “In FIR it has been stated that the petitioners were carrying the fire arm and have fired upon him. However the complainant took a somersault and he stated that the aforesaid persons had put mask on their faces and he could not identify them. Apart from that the reasons mentioned for compromise, are not valid reasons for entering into the compromise. Although the said affidavit might be a factor for consideration for grant of bail but it cannot be a factor in terminating the criminal proceedings altogether. The complainant made statement on oath before Judicial Magistrate Ist Class, Kapurthala in which he simply stated that he has compromised the matter and does not intent any action but no reason has been mentioned or given as to why the compromise be allowed and criminal proceedings be interrupted.”

While citing a relevant case law, the Bench enunciates in para 8 that, “In Ram Prasad v State of Uttar Pradesh, (1982) 2 SCC 149, Supreme Court holds, The appellants, who are the accused and the complainant, Shri Ram who was the person injured as a result of firing, have appeared before us and stated that they wish to compound the offence. The offence for which both the appellants have been convicted is one under Section 307 read with Section 34 of the Indian Penal Code, but having regard to the nature of the injury sustained by Shri Ram, we think that the proper offence for which the appellants should have been convicted was under Section 324 read with Section 34. Shri Ram received only one injury on the shoulder and that was also in the nature of simple hurt. We would, therefore, convert the conviction of the appellants to one under Section 324 read with Section 34. Since the parties belong to the same village and desire to compound the offence, we think, in the larger interest of peace and harmony between the parties and having regard to the nature of the injury, that it would be proper to allow the parties to compound the offence.”

While citing another relevant case law, the Bench then points out in para 9 that, “In Mahesh Chand v State of Rajasthan, 1990 SCC 781, Hon’ble Supreme Court holds as under:

[2]. The accused were acquitted by the trial court, but they were convicted by the High Court for the offence under section 307 Indian Penal Code This offence is not compoundable under law. The parties, however. want to treat it a special case, in view of the peculiar circumstances of the case. It is said and indeed not disputed that one of the accused is a lawyer practising in the lower court. There was a counter case arising out of the same transaction. It is said that this case has already been compromised. The decision of this Court in Suresh Babu v. State of Andhra Pradesh, 1987(2) JT 361, has been also referred to in support of the plea for permission to compound the offence.”

While citing yet another relevant case law, the Bench then hastens to add in para 13 that, “In State of Madhya Pradesh v. Dhruv Gurjar, (2019) 5 SCC 570, the FIR was registered under S 307, 294 and 34 IPC based on the allegations that Dhruv Gurjar (accused) armed with a 12-bore gun, and his gang, visited the house of the complainant with a view to take revenge with his nephew. When the complainant told them that his nephew was not present at home, on this Dhruv Gurjar fired, and the pellets struck on his forehead, left shoulder and left ear. Disagreeing with the order of High Court quashing the FIR, Hon’ble Supreme Court held, [16.1] However, the High Court has not at all considered the fact that the offences alleged were non-compoundable offences as per Section 320 of the Cr.P.C. From the impugned judgments and orders, it appears that the High Court has not at all considered the relevant facts and circumstances of the case, more particularly the seriousness of the offences and its social impact. From the impugned judgments and orders passed by the High Court, it appears that the High Court has mechanically quashed the respective FIRs, in exercise of its powers under Section 482 Cr.P.C. The High Court has not at all considered the distinction between a personal or private wrong and a social wrong and the social impact. As observed by this Court in the case of State of Maharashtra vs. Vikram Anantrai Doshi, 2014 15 SCC 29, the Court’s principal duty, while exercising the powers under Section 482 Cr.P.C. to quash the criminal proceedings, should be to scan the entire facts to find out the thrust of the allegations and the crux of the settlement. As observed, it is the experience of the Judge that comes to his aid and the said experience should be used with care, caution, circumspection and courageous prudence. Consider the ratio of State of M.P v. Laxmi Narayan (2019)5 SCC 688.”

It is worth noting that the Bench then clearly states in para 14 that, “The contents of compromise deed and its objectives point towards its rejection, in the light of the judicial precedents mentioned above.”

Finally, the Bench then holds in para 15 that, “However, the parties shall be at liberty to enter into a fresh compromise mentioning the reasons justifying the compromise and disruption of criminal proceedings. The dismissal of the present petition shall not come in the way of the fresh petition. Petition dismissed in the terms mentioned above.”

In a nutshell, the Punjab and Haryana High Court has made it absolutely clear that compromise deed must state reasons for settlement for quashing of FIR and criminal proceedings. This must be adhered to in totality. All the courts must always adhere to it accordingly!

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