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Drunken Driving - Whether the FIR can be quashed on the basis of Compromise [Case Law]

Criminal P.C. 1973 - S. 482 - Penal Code, 1860 - Ss 279, 337 & 338 - Motor Vehicle Act, 1988 - S. 185 - Driving by a drunken person or by a person under the influence of drugs - Whether the FIR in such like cases can, in fact, be quashed on the basis of compromise - Though the State has expressed its slight reservation regarding compounding of the offence but I find that this is not such wherein the offence for which the petitioner has been charged can be stricto sensu held to be the offence against the State. Even otherwise, once respondent No.2 has compromised the matter, the possibility of conviction is remote and bleak and the continuation of the criminal case against the petitioner would put the petitioner to great oppression and prejudice and extreme injustice would be caused to him by not quashing the criminal case.
IN THE HIGH COURT OF HIMACHAL PRADESH, SHIMLA
Coram The Hon’ble Mr. Justice Tarlok Singh Chauhan, Judge.
Cr. MMO No. 454 of 2018.
Date of decision: 08.10.2018.
Lomesh …..Petitioner.
Versus
State of H.P. and Anr. ….. Respondents.
For the Petitioner : Mr. T. K. Verma, Advocate.
For the Respondents: Mr.Vinod Thakur and Mr. Sudhir Bhatnagar, Additional Advocate Generals with Mr. Bhupinder Thakur, Deputy Advocate General, for respondent No.1 .
Mr. Gurudev Negi, Advocate, for respondent No. 2.
Tarlok Singh Chauhan, Judge (Oral).
This petition under Section 482 of the Code of Criminal Procedure (for short ‘Code’) has been preferred by the petitioner for quashing of FIR No. 111/2017, dated 02.07.2017, registered at Police Station, Rampur-Bushehar, District Shimla, H.P. under Sections 279, 337 and 338 of the IPC and and Section 185 of the Motor Vehicle Act, 1988 on the basis of compromise entered into between the petitioner-accused and respondent No. 2-complainant.
2. Brief facts of the case are that respondent No. 2 has filed a complaint case bearing FIR No. 111 of 2017, registered at Police Station Rampur-Bushehar, District Shimla, H.P. under Sections 279, 337 and 338 of the IPC and Section 185 of the Motor Vehicle Act, 1988 on 02.07.2017.
3. The petitioner and respondent No. 2 are present and have been identified as such by their learned counsels.
4. It is stated by learned counsel for the petitioner that the parties are friends and have compromised the matter as per Annexure P-2 annexed to the petition.
5. However, the moot question is whether the FIR in such like cases can, in fact, be quashed on the basis of compromise.
6. The issue in question has been extensively dealt with by the Bench of Hon’ble three Judges of the Hon’ble Supreme Court in Gian Singh vs. State of Punjab, (2012) 10 SCC 303, wherein the relative scope of inherent power of High Court under Section 482 to quash criminal proceedings of non-compoundable offences in view of the compromise arrived at between the parties have been considered extensively. Discussing different provisions and taking into consideration the different decisions rendered by it, the Hon’ble Supreme Court held as follows:-
“61. The position that emerges from the above discussion can be summarised thus: the power of the High Court in quashing a criminal proceeding or FIR or complaint in exercise of its inherent jurisdiction is distinct and different from the power given to a criminal court for compounding the offences under Section 320 of the Code. Inherent power is of wide plenitude with no statutory limitation but it has to be exercised in accord with the guideline engrafted in such power viz; (i) to secure the ends of justice or (ii) to prevent abuse of the process of any Court. In what cases power to quash the criminal proceeding or complaint or F.I.R 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. However, before exercise of such power, the High Court must have due regard to the nature and gravity of the crime. Heinous and serious 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. Similarly, any compromise between the victim and offender in relation to the offences under special statutes like Prevention of Corruption Act or the offences committed by public servants while working in that capacity etc; cannot provide for any basis for quashing criminal proceedings involving such offences. But the criminal cases having overwhelmingly and pre-dominatingly civil flavour stand on different footing for the purposes of quashing, particularly the offences arising from commercial, financial, mercantile, civil, partnership or such like transactions or the offences arising out of matrimony relating to dowry, etc. or the family disputes where the wrong is basically private or personal in nature and the parties have resolved their entire dispute. In this category of cases, the High Court may quash criminal proceedings if in its view, because of the compromise between the offender and victim, the possibility of conviction is remote and bleak and continuation of criminal case would put accused to great oppression and prejudice and extreme injustice would be caused to him by not quashing the criminal case despite full and complete settlement and compromise with the victim. In other words, the High Court must consider whether it would be unfair or contrary to the interest of justice to continue with the criminal proceeding or continuation of the criminal proceeding would tantamount to abuse of process of law despite settlement and compromise between the victim and wrongdoer and whether to secure the ends of justice, it is appropriate that criminal case is put to an end and if the answer to the above question(s) is in affirmative, the High Court shall be well within its jurisdiction to quash the criminal proceeding.” (emphasis supplied)
7. The judgment in Gian’s Singh case (supra), in turn, was considered subsequently by another Bench of Hon’ble three Judges of Hon’ble Supreme Court in Parbatbhai Aahir alias Parbatbhai Bhimsinhbhai vs. State of Gurjar and another, (2017) 9 SCC 641, wherein after taking into consideration the various provisions of law as also the various judgments including the one rendered in Gian Singh’s case (supra), certain broad principles that emerged from the precedents came to be summarised in the following propositions:
16. The broad principles which emerge from the precedents on the subject, may be summarised in the following propositions :
(i) Section 482 preserves the inherent powers of the High Court to prevent an abuse of the process of any court or to secure the ends of justice. Theprovision does not confer new powers. It only recognises and preserves powers which inhere in the High Court;
(ii) The invocation of the jurisdiction of the High Court to quash a First Information Report or a criminal proceeding on the ground that a settlement has been arrived at between the offender and the victim is not the same as the invocation of jurisdiction for the purpose of compounding an offence. While compounding an offence, the power of the court is governed by the provisions of Section 320 of the Code of Criminal Procedure, 1973. The power to quash under Section 482 is attracted even if the offence is noncompoundable.
(iii) In forming an opinion whether a criminal proceeding or complaint should be quashed in exercise of its jurisdiction under Section 482, the High Courtmust evaluate whether the ends of justice would justify the exercise of the inherent power;
(iv) While the inherent power of the High Court has a wide ambit and plenitude it has to be exercised; (i) to secure the ends of justice or (ii) to prevent an abuse of the process of any court;
(v) The decision as to whether a complaint or First Information Report should be quashed on the ground that the offender and victim have settled the dispute, revolves ultimately on the facts and circumstances of each case and no exhaustive elaboration of principles can be formulated;
(vi) In the exercise of the power under Section 482 and while dealing with a plea that the dispute has been settled, the High Court must have due regard to the nature and gravity of the offence. Heinous and serious offences involving mental depravity or offences such as murder, rape and dacoity cannot appropriately be quashed though the victim or the family of the victim have settled the dispute. Such offences are, truly speaking, not private in nature but have a serious impact upon society. The decision to continue with the trial in such cases is founded on the overriding element of public interest in punishing persons for serious offences;
(vii) As distinguished from serious offences, there may be criminal cases which have an overwhelming or predominant element of a civil dispute. They stand on a distinct footing in so far as the exercise of the inherent power to quash is concerned;
(viii) Criminal cases involving offences which arise from commercial, financial, mercantile, partnership or similar transactions with an essentially civil flavour may in appropriate situations fall for quashing where parties have settled the dispute;
(ix) In such a case, the High Court may quash the criminal proceeding if in view of the compromise between the disputants, the possibility of aconviction is remote and the continuation of a criminal proceeding would cause oppression and prejudice; and
(x) There is yet an exception to the principle set out in propositions (viii) and (ix) above. Economic offences involving the financial and economic well- being of the state have implications which lie beyond the domain of a mere dispute between private disputants. The High Court would be justified in declining to quash where the offender is involved in an activity akin to a financial or economic fraud or misdemeanour. The consequences of the act complained of upon the financial or economic system will weigh in the balance.
8. Adverting to the facts, it would be noticed that the offences, which the petitioner-accused had committed do not in any manner fall within the exception as carved out by the Hon’ble Supreme Court in Gian Singh and Parbatbhai’s cases (supra).
9. Though the State has expressed its slight reservation regarding compounding of the offence but I find that this is not such wherein the offence for which the petitioner has been charged can be stricto sensu held to be the offence against the State. Even otherwise, once respondent No.2 has compromised the matter, the possibility of conviction is remote and bleak and the continuation of the criminal case against the petitioner would put the petitioner to great oppression and prejudice and extreme injustice would be caused to him by not quashing the criminal case.
10. Keeping in view the aforesaid guidelines, it is not disputed that the parties have reached a settlement and on that basis have preferred the present proceedings seeking quashment of the FIR. Once respondent No.2 states that he has compromised the matter and, therefore, he does not want to pursue the instant FIR, the quashing of such FIR would definitely be to secure the ends of justice and to prevent abuse of process of the Court.
11. Thus, taking holistic view of the matter and looking into all attending facts and circumstances, I find this to be a fit case to exercise powers under Section 482 of the Code and accordingly FIR No.111 of 2017, dated 02.07.2017, registered at Police Station, Rampur-Bushehar, District Shimla, H.P. under Sections 279, 337 and 338 of the IPC and Section 185 of the Motor Vehicle Act, against the petitioner, is quashed.
12. The petition stands allowed in the aforesaid terms.
Pending application, if any, also stands disposed of.

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