Section 304-A IPC; Baldev Singh Vs. State of Punjab [Punjab & Haryana High Court, 02-06-2016]

Penal Code, 1860 – S. 304 A – Causing death by negligence – Compromise between Parties – Held, there can be no quashing of an offence registered under Section 304-A and subsequent proceedings, solely on the basis of a compromise arrived at between the legal heirs / representatives of the victim (deceased) and the accused.

IN THE HIGH COURT OF PUNJAB AND HARYANA AT CHANDIGARH

CORAM : HON’BLE MR. JUSTICE MAHESH GROVER

HON’BLE MRS. JUSTICE LISA GILL

CRM No. M-40769 of 2014

Date of Decision : June 2, 2016

Baldev Singh ……………………………………………… Petitioner

VERSUS

State of Punjab & another ………………………….. Respondents

Present: Mr. Sumeet Puri, Advocate for the petitioner. Ms. Diya Sodhi, Advocate for Mr. Jasjit Singh Bedi, Amicus Curiae Mr. Gaurav Garg Dhuriwala, DAG, Punjab. Mr. Anil Mehta, DAG, Haryana. Mr. A.S.Virk, Addl. P.P. for U.T. Chandigarh. Mr. Harsh Manocha, Advocate for Mr. Ajay Pal Singh, Advocate for respondent No.2. …

LISA GILL, J.

This petition has been filed for quashing of FIR No. 173 dated 11.12.2013 under Sections 279, 304-A, 427 IPC registered at Police Station Sadar Sangrur as well as subsequent proceedings on the basis of compromise/settlement arrived at between the accused petitioner with respondent No.2 who is brother of the deceased-Balbir Singh. When the learned Single Judge was seized of the matter, it was felt with reference to the judgment of the Hon’ble Supreme Court in Gian Singh v. State of Punjab and another 2012 (4) R.C.R. (Criminal) 543 that the offence under Section 304-A IPC neither falls in the category of cases which cannot be quashed on the basis of settlement nor the ones which can be so allowed. The question formulated for consideration of a larger Bench was whether the crime registered under Section 304-A IPC can be quashed on the basis of compromise arrived at by the legal heir/legal representative of the victim/deceased with the offender. Relevant part of order dated 28.11.2014 reads as under:-

“The Hon’ble Supreme Court of India in the celebrated judgment Gian Singh Vs. State of Punjab and another, 2012(4) RCR (Criminal) 543 has laid down certain tests which requires attention of the High Court while exercising jurisdiction under Section 482 of the Code of Criminal Procedure for quashing of criminal proceedings on the basis of compromise. In para 54, it has been held that :-

“………..In respect of serious offences like murder, rape, dacoity, etc; or other offences of mental depravity under Indian Penal Code or offences of moral turpitude under special statutes, like Prevention of Corruption Act or the offences committed by public servants while working in that capacity, the settlement between offender and victim can have no legal sanction at all. However, certain offences which overwhelmingly and predominantly bear civil flavour having arisen out of civil, mercantile, commercial, financial, partnership or such like transactions or the offences arising out of matrimony, particularly relating to dowry, etc. or the family dispute, where the wrong is basically to victim and the offender and victim have settled all disputes between them amicably, irrespective of the fact that such offences have not been made compoundable, the High Court may within the framework of its inherent power, quash the criminal proceeding or criminal complaint or F.I.R if it is satisfied that on the face of such settlement, there is hardly any likelihood of offender being convicted and by not quashing the criminal proceedings, justice shall be casualty and ends of justice shall be defeated. ………”

In my considered opinion, offence under Section 304-A IPC neither falls in that category of cases which cannot be quashed on the basis of settlement nor the ones which can be so allowed. This apart, real victim of the crime under Section 304- A IPC is no longer available for entering into any such settlement with the accused/offender. Therefore, the matter is required to be placed before a larger bench for decision:

Whether the crime registered under Section 304-A IPC can be quashed on the basis of compromise arrived at by the legal heirs/legal representatives of the victim (deceased) with the offender.”