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When F.I.R. does not disclose the commission of an offence, continuance of the criminal prosecution

Arun Singh and Ors. V. State of U.P. through its Secretary & Another, Criminal Appeal No. 250 of 2020, arising out of Special Leave Petition (Crl) No. 5224 of 2017- 10th FEBRUARY, 2020.

The Supreme Court Bench comprising of Justice Navin Sinha and Justice Krishna Murari made the observation dealing with an appeal filed by the accused who has assailed a decision of Allahabad High Court, whereby the High Court has refused to quash the FIR filed against the accused.

Facts:  Respondent No. 2 lodged First Information Report with Police Station Izzat Nagar, District Bareilly under Section 493 I.P.C. read with Section 3/4 of the Dowry Prohibition Act against the appellants herein which was registered as case crime No. 431 of 2014. The

allegations made in the F.I.R. were that Respondent No.-2 approached Appellants with the proposal of marriage of his daughter Jyoti with Appellant No.-1. On 30th June, 2013 the appellants visited the house of Respondent No.-2 and after meeting his daughter the proposal was finalised. On 21.07.2013, ring ceremony was performed and date of marriage was scheduled for 19.11.2013. Thereafter, Appellant No.-2 started visiting the house of complainant/respondent no.-2. Frequently and misleading his daughter Jyoti that now since the marriage is finalised and only ceremony of ‘feras’ remains to be performed took her for outings on various occasions. On 16.08.2013 appellant No.-2 induced Jyoti to his room and established physical relationship with her. However, subsequently thereto the appellant started making demand of dowry of Rs. 5 Lakh. A complaint in this regard was made before Mahila Thana but no action was taken. On coming to know that marriage of Appellant No.-2 was settled with some other girl for a handsome amount of dowry, the First Information Report was being lodged. The matter was investigated in the concerned Police Station and charge sheet was filed against the appellants and that was challenged in the High Court. The appellants argued that the respondents did not share the expenses of the marriage. Later, a compromise was made but the respondent has filed this FIR after 10 months of compromise. The High Court, however, rejected the plea by the appellant, finding that there was no justification for allowing the plea.

Issue: whether the High Court can refuse to quash the FIR and charge sheet filed by the aggrieved party when a compromise is made between them? Whether the allegations made in the FIR constitute commission of an offence?

The Counsel for the appellants contended that the High Court has failed to appreciate and consider that the fresh criminal action cannot be launched on the basis of the same cause of action, which has already settled 10 months back by way of compromise which was acted upon by both the parties. It is also submitted that the High Court did not appreciate and consider the fact at all the allegations in the FIR, prima facie, do not constitute commission of the offence and dismissed the 482 petition without adverting itself to this aspect of the matter.

Learned counsel for the respondent refuting the arguments advanced on behalf of appellants submitted that the First Information Report was filed under Section 493 of the Indian Penal Code read with Section 3/4 of the Dowry Prohibition Act and both the aforesaid offences are non-compoundable in nature and thus could not have been compromised.

The Court observed that; The offence under Section 493 is non-compoundable. Similarly, the offence under Section 3/4 of the Dowry Prohibition Act is also non compoundable, in view of Section 8(2) of the said Act, which provides that every offence under this Act, shall be non-bailable and non-compoundable. Though the offence in question are non-compoundable but the power of the High Court under Section 482 CrPC of the Court to quash the proceedings in such offences is well recognised by various decision of this court and the issue is no longer res integra.

In reference to Narinder Singh vs. State of Punjab, which states that the offender should be punished in respect of the offence against the society. The offences in which the appellants are charged are offences against society and not private in nature. Such offences have serious impact upon society and continuance of trial of such cases is founded on the overriding effect of public interests in punishing persons for such serious offences. Therefore, in such cases, even if settlement is arrived at between the complainant and the accused, the same cannot constitute a valid ground to quash the FIR or charge sheet. Thus, the High Court cannot be said to be unjustified in refusing to quash the charge sheet on compromise.

On considering the second issue, to prove a person has committed an offence under section 493 of IPC, it must be proved that the accused had deceitfully induced a belief to the woman, who is not lawfully married to him, that she is a lawfully married wife of that person and thereupon she should cohabit or should have had sexual intercourse with that person.  But according to the facts of the o case, there is no deceitful induction of the appellant. Since the essential ingredients to constitute an offence under Section 493 of IPC are missing, the offence cannot be made under this section.

The Court held that insofar as offence under Section 493 I.P.C. is concerned, since F.I.R. does not disclose the commission of any offence under the said Section and thus continuance of the criminal prosecution under said section would amount to abuse of process of the Court and the order of the High Court to that extent is liable to be set aside. However, insofar as offence against the appellants under Section 3/4 of the Dowry Prohibition Act is concerned, since the allegations disclose the commission of cognizable offence in the F.I.R., it is not a fit case to exercise power under Section 482 Cr.PC and to quash criminal proceedings against the appellants for the said offence.

Therefore, the Court has quashed the charges framed under section 493 of IPC as there is no disclosure of the commission of offence in the charge sheet. In respect of the charge sheet under section 3 and 4 of the Dowry Prohibition Act, the appeal stands dismissed.

–  Vydurya Selvi Baskaran

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