Criminal Procedure Code, 1973 — section 482 — ambit and scope of the inherent powers of the High Courts under Section 482 of the Code in quashing of the criminal proceedings in non-compoundable offences relating to matrimonial disputes — to determine — the fact not disputed that after filing of a complaint in respect of the offences punishable under Sections 498A and 406 of IPC, the parties, arrived at a mutual settlement, however, the High Court dismissed application filed by the appellants stating that the court has no power to quash the criminal proceedings in respect of offences under Sections 498A and 406 of IPC since both are non-compoundable — hence, the appeal — the Supreme Court held that even if the offences are non-compoundable, if they relate to matrimonial disputes and the court is satisfied that the parties have settled the same amicably and without any pressure, in that case for the purpose of securing ends of justice, Section 320 of the Code would not be a bar to the exercise of power of quashing of FIR, complaint or the subsequent criminal proceedings — impugned judgment of the High Court set aside — criminal proceedings quashed — appeal allowed

Page 1
REPORTABLE
IN THE SUPREME COURT OF INDIA
CRIMINAL APPELLATE JURISDICTION
CRIMINAL APPEAL No. 447 OF 2013
(Arising out of S.L.P. (Crl.) No. 6462 of 2012)
Jitendra Raghuvanshi & Ors. …. Appellant(s)
Versus
Babita Raghuvanshi & Anr. …. Respondent(s)
J U D G M E N T
P.Sathasivam,J.
1) Leave granted.
2) The important question that falls for determination in
the instant appeal is about the ambit and scope of the
inherent powers of the High Courts under Section 482 of the
Code of Criminal Procedure, 1973 (in short “the Code”) in
quashing of the criminal proceedings in non-compoundable
offences relating to matrimonial disputes.
1Page 2
3) This appeal is directed against the final judgment and
order dated 04.07.2012 passed by the High Court of Madhya
Pradesh, Bench at Indore in M.CR.C. No. 2877 of 2012,
whereby the High Court dismissed the petition filed by the
appellants herein under Section 482 of the Code for quashing
of proceedings in Criminal Case No. 4166 of 2011 pending in
the Court of Judicial Magistrate Class I, Indore.
4) Brief facts:
a) The marriage of Jitendra Raghuvanshi (Appellant No. 1
herein) and Babita Raghuvanshi, respondent-wife, was
solemnized on 22.02.2002 as per Hindu rites and rituals.
After the marriage, the parties were residing together as
husband and wife at District Baitul, M.P. On 05.03.2003, an
FIR being No. 172 of 2003 was registered at P.S. Sarni, Dist.
Baitul for the offences punishable under Sections 498A, 406
read with Section 34 of the Indian Penal Code, 1860 (in short
‘the IPC’) at the instance of Babita Raghuvanshi –
respondent-wife owing to the harassment and torture meted
out to her in the matrimonial home by her husband and his
relatives. A Criminal Case being No. 4166 of 2011 was also
2Page 3
registered against the appellants herein for the offences
punishable under Sections 498A and 406 of the IPC and
Sections 3 and 4 of the Dowry Prohibition Act, 1961.
b) During the pendency of the criminal proceedings, in the
year 2012, with the help and intervention of family members,
friends and well-wishers, the parties amicably settled their
differences by way of mutual settlement. Pursuant to the
same, on 03.04.2012, a compromise/settlement application
was filed for dropping of the criminal proceedings in Criminal
Case No. 4166 of 2011 and FIR No. 172 of 2003 dated
05.03.2003 before the trial Court. Respondent-wife also filed
an affidavit stating that she did not wish to pursue the
criminal proceedings against the appellants. However, by
order dated 03.04.2012, learned trial Judge rejected the said
application.
c) Being aggrieved by the order dated 03.04.2012, on
09.04.2012, the appellants herein filed an application being
M.CR.C. No. 2877 of 2012 before the High Court invoking its
inherent powers under Section 482 of the Code to quash the
criminal proceedings launched against them. The High
3Page 4
Court, by impugned order dated 04.07.2012, dismissed the
application filed by the appellants herein stating that the
court has no power to quash the criminal proceedings in
respect of offences under Sections 498A and 406 of IPC since
both are non-compoundable.
d) Aggrieved by the said order, the appellants have filed
the present appeal by way of special leave.
5) Heard Ms. Preetika Dwivedi, learned counsel for the
appellants and Mr. S.K. Dubey, learned senior counsel for
Respondent No. 2 and Mr. Rahul, learned counsel for
Respondent No.1.
6) The scope and ambit of power under Section 482 of the
Code has been examined by this Court in a catena of earlier
decisions. In the present case, we are concerned about
interference by the High Court exercising jurisdiction under
Section 482 in relation to matrimonial disputes.
7) It is not in dispute that matrimonial disputes have been
on considerable increase in recent times resulting in filing of
complaints under Sections 498A and 406 of IPC not only
against the husband but also against the relatives of the
4Page 5
husband. The question is when such matters are resolved
either by the wife agreeing to rejoin the matrimonial home or
by mutual settlement of other pending disputes for which
both the sides approached the High Court and jointly prayed
for quashing of the criminal proceedings or the FIR or
complaint by the wife under Sections 498A and 406 of IPC,
whether the prayer can be declined on the sole ground that
since the offences are non-compoundable under Section 320
of the Code, it would be impermissible for the Court to quash
the criminal proceedings or FIR or complaint.
8) It is not in dispute that in the case on hand subsequent
to the filing of the criminal complaint under Sections 498A
and 406 of IPC and Sections 3 and 4 of the Dowry Prohibition
Act, 1961, with the help and intervention of family members,
friends and well-wishers, the parties concerned have
amicably settled their differences and executed a
compromise/settlement. Pursuant thereto, the appellants
filed the said compromise before the trial Court with a
request to place the same on record and to drop the criminal
proceedings against the appellants herein. It is also not in
5Page 6
dispute that in addition to the mutual settlement arrived at
by the parties, respondent-wife has also filed an affidavit
stating that she did not wish to pursue the criminal
proceedings against the appellants and fully supported the
contents of the settlement deed. It is the grievance of the
appellants that not only the trial Court rejected such prayer
of the parties but also the High Court failed to exercise its
jurisdiction under Section 482 of the Code only on the ground
that the criminal proceedings relate to the offences
punishable under Sections 498A and 406 of IPC which are
non-compoundable in nature.
9) Learned counsel for the parties, by drawing our
attention to the decision of this Court in B.S. Joshi and
Others vs. State of Haryana and Another, (2003) 4 SCC
675, submitted that in an identical circumstance, this Court
held that the High Court in exercise of its inherent powers
under Section 482 can quash criminal proceedings in
matrimonial disputes where the dispute is entirely private
and the parties are willing to settle their disputes amicably.
It is not in dispute that the facts in B.S. Joshi (supra) are
6Page 7
identical and the nature of the offence and the question of
law involved are almost similar to the one in hand. After
considering the law laid down in State of Haryana vs.
Bhajan Lal, 1992 Supp (1) SCC 335 and explaining the
decisions rendered in Madhu Limaye vs. State of
Maharashtra, (1977) 4 SCC 551, Surendra Nath Mohanty
& Anr. vs. State of Orissa, (1999) 5 SCC 238 and Pepsi
Foods Ltd. & Anr. vs. Special Judicial Magistrate &
Ors., (1998) 5 SCC 749, this Court held:
“8. … …. We are, therefore, of the view that if for the
purpose of securing the ends of justice, quashing of FIR
becomes necessary, Section 320 would not be a bar to the
exercise of power of quashing. It is, however, a different
matter depending upon the facts and circumstances of
each case whether to exercise or not such a power.”
Considering matrimonial matters, this Court also held:
“12. The special features in such matrimonial matters are
evident. It becomes the duty of the court to encourage
genuine settlements of matrimonial disputes.”
10) As stated earlier, it is not in dispute that after filing of a
complaint in respect of the offences punishable under
Sections 498A and 406 of IPC, the parties, in the instant
case, arrived at a mutual settlement and the complainant
7Page 8
also has sworn an affidavit supporting the stand of the
appellants. That was the position before the trial Court as
well as before the High Court in a petition filed under Section
482 of the Code. A perusal of the impugned order of the
High Court shows that because the mutual settlement
arrived at between the parties relate to non-compoundable
offence, the court proceeded on a wrong premise that it
cannot be compounded and dismissed the petition filed
under Section 482. A perusal of the petition before the High
Court shows that the application filed by the appellants was
not for compounding of non-compoundable offences but for
the purpose of quashing the criminal proceedings.
11) The inherent powers of the High Court under Section
482 of the Code are wide and unfettered. In B.S. Joshi
(supra), this Court has upheld the powers of the High Court
under Section 482 to quash criminal proceedings where
dispute is of a private nature and a compromise is entered
into between the parties who are willing to settle their
differences amicably. We are satisfied that the said decision
is directly applicable to the case on hand and the High Court
8Page 9
ought to have quashed the criminal proceedings by
accepting the settlement arrived at.
12) In our view, it is the duty of the courts to encourage
genuine settlements of matrimonial disputes, particularly,
when the same are on considerable increase. Even if the
offences are non-compoundable, if they relate to matrimonial
disputes and the court is satisfied that the parties have
settled the same amicably and without any pressure, we hold
that for the purpose of securing ends of justice, Section 320
of the Code would not be a bar to the exercise of power of
quashing of FIR, complaint or the subsequent criminal
proceedings.
13) There has been an outburst of matrimonial disputes in
recent times. The institution of marriage occupies an
important place and it has an important role to play in the
society. Therefore, every effort should be made in the
interest of the individuals in order to enable them to settle
down in life and live peacefully. If the parties ponder over
their defaults and terminate their disputes amicably by
mutual agreement instead of fighting it out in a court of law,
9Page 10
in order to do complete justice in the matrimonial matters,
the courts should be less hesitant in exercising its
extraordinary jurisdiction. It is trite to state that the power
under Section 482 should be exercised sparingly and with
circumspection only when the court is convinced, on the
basis of material on record, that allowing the proceedings to
continue would be an abuse of the process of the court or
that the ends of justice require that the proceedings ought to
be quashed. We also make it clear that exercise of such
power would depend upon the facts and circumstances of
each case and it has to be exercised in appropriate cases in
order to do real and substantial justice for the administration
of which alone the courts exist. It is the duty of the courts to
encourage genuine settlements of matrimonial disputes and
Section 482 of the Code enables the High Court and Article
142 of the Constitution enables this Court to pass such
orders.
14) In the light of the above discussion, we hold that the
High Court in exercise of its inherent powers can quash the
criminal proceedings or FIR or complaint in appropriate cases
1Page 11
in order to meet the ends of justice and Section 320 of the
Code does not limit or affect the powers of the High Court
under Section 482 of the Code. Under these circumstances,
we set aside the impugned judgment of the High Court dated
04.07.2012 passed in M.CR.C. No. 2877 of 2012 and quash
the proceedings in Criminal Case No. 4166 of 2011 pending
on the file of Judicial Magistrate Class-I, Indore.
15) The appeal is allowed.
………….…………………………J.
(P. SATHASIVAM)
………….…………………………J.
(JAGDISH SINGH KHEHAR)
………….…………………………J.
(KURIAN JOSEPH)
NEW DELHI;
MARCH 15, 2013.
1

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