Bombay High Court

THE Bombay High Court recently quashed an FIR filed under Section 376 (2) of the Indian Penal Code on the condition that the petitioner-accused pays cost of Rs. 50,000 for burdening the court machinery in order to settle a private dispute. A bench of Justice Ranjit More and Justice Sarang Kotwal directed the authorities that the amount be used towards treatment of advanced and terminally-ill cancer patients at Tata Memorial Hospital, Mumbai.

The court was hearing a petition filed by Mohammed Bablu Kasiruddin Shaikh, whose advocate KS Patil submitted that during the pendency of investigation in the said FIR, both parties had amicably settled their differences mutually and as a result of that, the said petition was filed with the complainant’s consent. Additional Public Prosecutor NB Patil opposed the petition, submitting that the offence against the petitioner was a serious one and it was an offence against the society.

The court noted that the complainant, who was present in the court, had stated in her affidavit that the said FIR was filed as a result of a misunderstanding. She also told the court that she had no objection if the FIR would be quashed and that she was under no pressure.

Referring to the Supreme Court’s decision in Narinder Singh vs State of Punjab, the court said: “The decision of the Apex Court makes it clear that the Court cannot decline to quash the FIR merely because the FIR incorporates a particular provision, which is a serious offence or an offence against the society. The Court has to endeavour to find out whether the FIR indeed discloses ingredients of such offence and that the Court can accept the settlement and quash the FIR / Charge-sheet if the Court is of the opinion that such an offence is unnecessarily incorporated in the charge-sheet.”

The court further noted that a reading of the said FIR and an earlier complaint makes it “abundantly clear” that the relationship is consensual and it is merely a “dispute between private parties”. The court cited the overburdening of criminal courts and said there was no reason to burden them further by keeping the FIR alive.

The bench observed: “As the police machinery and the Court machinery was used by the parties to settle their private disputes as a corollary of differences of opinion, we find it would be appropriate to saddle the Petitioner with the cost of Rs.50,000, which shall be paid to the “Tata Memorial Hospital” an institution that takes care of the advanced and terminally ill cancer patients.”

The petitioner will have to produce a receipt of this payment within four weeks of the said order or else the petition would stand dismissed automatically.

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