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A Supreme Court judge has said that a larger bench should decide on segregating the non-compoundable offences which can be quashed on the ground that the parties have reached a compromise from those which can’t be struck down. A guideline is to be laid down in this regard, otherwise there will be a judicial anarchy, said Justice Katju in his separate but concurrent findings of the two-judge bench.

“There can be no doubt that a case under Section 302 IPC or other serious offences like those under Sections 395, 307 or 304B cannot be compounded and hence proceedings in those provisions cannot be quashed by the high court in exercise of its power under Section 482 CrPC or in writ jurisdiction on the basis of compromise. However, in some other cases, (like those akin to a civil nature) the proceedings can be quashed by the high court if the parties have come to an amicable settlement even though the provisions are not compoundable. Where a line is to be drawn will have to be decided in some later decisions of this court, preferably by a larger bench (so as to make it more authoritative),” said Justice Katju.

He said, “Some guidelines will have to be evolved in this connection and the matter cannot be left at the sole unguided discretion of judges, otherwise there
may be conflicting decisions and judicial anarchy. A judicial discretion has to be exercised on some objective guiding principles and criteria, and not on the whims and fancies of individual judges. Discretion, after all, cannot be the Chancellor’s foot,”

Justice Katju agreed with the plea of Delhi government’s counsel BB Singh who had said that the decision of the apex court in BS Joshi’s case should not be understood to have meant that judges can quash any kind of criminal case merely because there has been a compromise between the parties. After all, a crime is an offence against society, and not merely against a private individual, observed Justice Katju.

In BS Joshi case, the court had referred to its own earlier decision in Madhu Limaye vs State of Maharashtra in which it was held that the power under Section 482 should not be exercised when there is an express bar in some other provision of the Code. The court in BS Joshi’s case also referred to the decision in Surendra Nath Mohanty vs. State of Orissa case which held that since the offence under section 326 IPC is not compoundable the high court cannot compound the offence, perused Justice Katju.

Despite those, the decision in BS Joshi’s case relying on its own decision in State of Karanataka vs L Muniswamy had observed that the high court under Section 482 CrPC can quash the criminal proceedings if it comes to the conclusion that the ends of justice so requires like where there would almost be no chance of conviction, said Justice Katju.

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