Quashing of Criminal Proceedings vis a vis Compounding of Offences

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 FIR may be exercised where the offender and the 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 may 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 a serious impact on society. Similarly, any compromise between the victim and the offender in relation to the offences under special statutes like the 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 predominatingly civil flavor stand on a 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 these category of cases, the High Court may quash the criminal proceedings if in its view, because of the compromise between the offender and the victim, the possibility of conviction is remote and bleak and continuation of the criminal case would put the accused to great oppression and prejudice and extreme injustice would be caused to him by not quashing the 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 tanatamount to abuse of process of law despite settlement and compromise between the victim and the wrongdoer and whether to secure the ends of justice, it is appropriate that the criminal case is put to an end and if the answer to the above question(s) is in the affirmative, the High Court shall be well within its jurisdiction to quash the criminal proceeding. Gold Quest International Private Ltd. v. State of Tamil Nadu, (2014) 15 SCC 235.

 

Organised Crime – Meaning of

An “organized crime” should be any “continuing unlawful activity” either by an individual, singly or jointly, either as a member of an “organized crime syndicate” or on behalf of such syndicate. The main ingredient is that such “continuing unlawful activity” should have been indulged in by use of violence or threat of violence or intimidation or coercion or other unlawful means. Further, such violence and other activity should have been indulged in with an objective of gaining pecuniary benefits or gaining undue economic or other advantage for himself or for any other person or for promoting insurgency. Therefore, an “organized crime” by nature of violent action indulged in by an individual singly or jointly either as a member of an “organized crime syndicate” or on behalf of such syndicate should have been either with an object of making pecuniary gains or undue economic or other advantage or for promoting insurgency. If the object was for making pecuniary gains, it can be either for himself or for any other person. But for promoting insurgency, there is no such requirement of any personal interest or the interest of any other person or body. The mere indulgence in a violent activity etc., either for pecuniary gain or other advantage or for promoting insurgency as an individual, either singly or jointly as a member of “organized crime syndicate” or on behalf of a such syndicate would be sufficient for bringing the said activity within the four corners of the definition of “organized crime”.

An “organized crime syndicate” is a group of two or more persons who by acting singly or collectively as a syndicate or gang indulge in activities of “organized crime”. Prasad Shrikant Purohit v. State of Maharashtra, (2015) 3 SCC (Cri) 138.

Aggrieved Woman in a domestic relationship – Right to reside in shared household

The aggrieved woman is entitled to use, enjoy and access the shared household. The prohibition or putting any kind of restriction comes within the definition of domestic violence as provided under Section 3 of the Protection of Women from Domestic Violence Act. Section 17 of the Act also provides that aggrieved women in a domestic relationship shall have the right to reside in the shared household, whether or not she has any right, title or beneficial interest in the same and the aggrieved person shall not be evicted or excluded from the shared household or any part of it save in accordance with the procedure established by law. Chhangur Ram Nishad v. State of U.P., 2015 (90) ACC 494.

 

Expression Cognizance – Meaning of

In Ajit Kumar Palit v. State of West Bengal, AIR 1963 SC 765, it was held as under:

“The word ‘cognizance’ has no esoteric or mystic significance in criminal law or procedure. It merely means – become aware of and when used with reference to a court or Judge, to take notice of judicially. It was stated in Gopal Marwari v. Emperor, AIR 1943 Pat 245 by the Learned Judges of the Patna High Court in a passage quoted with approval by the Court in R.R. Chari v. State of U.P., AIR 1951 SC 207 that the word ‘cognizance’ was used in the Code to indicate the point when the Magistrate or Judge takes judicial notice of an offence and that it was a word of indefinite import and is not perhaps always used in exactly the same sense. As observed in Sourindra Mohan Chuckerbutty v. Emperor, ILR (1910) 37 Cal 412:

“taking cognizance does not involve any formal action, or indeed action of any kind; but occurs as soon as a Magistrate, as such, applies his mind to the suspected commission of an offence.”

Where the Statute prescribes the materials on which alone the judicial mind shall operate before any step in taken, obviously the statutory requirement must be fulfilled.” Prasad Shrikant Purohit v. State of Maharashtra, (2015) 7 SCC 440.