Case Study

Quashing of F.I.R in case of Criminal Negligence

Cr.MMO No. 430 of 2018 , Dr. Subhash Thakur versus State of H.P. decided by the Hon’ble High Court of H.P. IN THE HIGH COURT OF HIMACHAL PRADESH AT SHIMLA, on 12.02.2021.

FACTS:  F.I.R. was registered by Shri Kulvinder Singh to the fact that his father Sh. Narender Singh Negi had died due to negligence of doctors i.e. petitioners. The petitioners had operated upon the complainant’s father on 29.1.2016 and he died on 30.01.2016. During the course of hearing a compromise was executed between the parties and placed on record. As per the compromise, with the intervention of the family members and local people of the area, the parties had resolved their issues under the F.I.R. in question, the complainant did not wish to pursue the F.I.R any further and expressed no objection in case the same is quashed  and set-aside alongwith all consequential proceedings initiated against the petitioners in both the petitions. The complainant  further agreed to withdraw all the legal proceedings filed against the petitioners on account of death of his father.

OBSERVATIONS: The broad principles which emerge from the precedents on the subject may be summarized 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. The provision does not confer new powers. It only recognizes 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 non-compoundable.

(iii) In forming an opinion whether a criminal proceeding or complaint should be quashed in exercise of its jurisdiction under Section 482, the High Court must 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 a conviction 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.”

HELD: Considering the well settled legal position extracted above and applying their ratio to the instant case, I am of the considered view that since an amicable settlement has been arrived at between the parties therefore, in the facts and circumstances of the case, no fruitful purpose will be served in continuing the proceedings in question. The F.I.R. is of 2016 and the challan was presented on 12.01.2017. The complainant is not interested to pursue the F.I.R any further. The possibility of conviction in such circumstances, more so in view of the allegations leveled in the F.I.R. would be very very remote. The continuation of the proceedings will be to the great detriment of the petitioners causing them unnecessary harassment and injustice. When the complainant does not want to hold the accused persons responsible, the quashing of F.I.R would certainly be in the interest of justice. Consequently, in view of the above, the present petitions are allowed and F.I.R No. 20/2016 under Section 304A registered at Police Station Rampur Bushahr dtd. 30.1.2016 and consequential proceedings arising therefrom are quashed and set-aside. The petitions stand disposed of accordingly.

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Anoop K. Kaushal

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