Compromise between legal heir and offender in a case under S. 304-A IPC does not warrant quashing of proceedings

Punjab and Haryana High Court: Deciding on the matter of whether the crime registered under Section 304-A of Penal Code, 1860 can be quashed on the basis of compromise arrived at by the legal heir/legal representative of the victim/deceased, with the offender, the two judge bench comprising of Mahesh Grover and Lisa Gill, JJ., observed that to quash the proceedings under Section 304-A solely on the basis of a settlement or compromise arrived at between the accused and the legal representatives is not permissible and militates against all canons of justice. It was further said that in the case under Section 304-A IPC the victim is obviously not present to settle the matter and hence, to permit a legal representative or legal heir to compromise or settle the matter is indeed an invitation to a dangerous trend and cannot be permitted.

Rejecting the contention that the offence under Section 304-A IPC is private in nature, the Court observed that, to consider that an offence under Section 304-A is private in nature is wholly incorrect and it is an offence which impacts society as a whole, permeating to the very core.

The Court further held that undoubtedly, there is a distinction between the power of the Court to compound an offence under Section 320 Cr. P.C. and quashing of criminal proceedings in exercise of power under Section 482 Cr. P.C. It is trite to mention that the power of the High Court under Section 482 Cr. P.C. can nevertheless be exercised in appropriate matters where it is felt that a prima facie case is not made out in consonance with the settled principles of law. (Baldev Singh v. State of Punjab, 2016 SCC OnLine P&H 4509, Decided on  02.06.2016).

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