Compromise between parties in case of death by rash and negligent driving is not a ground to quash the offence u/S 304-A IPC

Kerala High Court:  Dismissing the criminal miscellaneous case where the petitioner having been  charged under Sections 304-A, 279 and 338 of the Penal Code, 1860 for causing death due to rash and negligent driving, sought quashing of the proceedings on the basis of a compromise entered into by the parties, the Court observed that such offences cannot be treated as a private dispute between the parties, so as to persuade the Court to accept a compromise and quash the proceedings.

The petitioner contended that a compromise had been entered into at the instance of mediators and the respondents had no objection to the proceedings being quashed. The Public Prosecutor however opposed the same, submitting that the Court was kept in the dark as to the terms of the settlement and the actual legal heirs of the deceased. Hence, if the offence under Section 304-A is quashed on the basis of a purported settlement with one of the legal heirs of the victim,  it would send a wrong signal.

The Bench of Raja Vijayraghavan, J. observed that an offence under Section 304-A IPC has the potentiality of making victims in many a layer thus creating a concavity in the social fabric. The impact on the society is felt all the more when accidents take place due to rash driving by drunken, negligent or adventurous drivers with no concern for others. The Court in exercise of powers under Section 482 CrPC cannot send a signal to the wrongdoer that payment of money can be a substitute for the crime committed against the society. The Court held that taking a lenient view of such an offence under Section 304-A will leave a wrong impression about the criminal justice system, encouraging further criminal acts, thus endangering the peaceful co-existence and welfare of the society at large. [Mohammed Ashraf v. State of Kerala, 2016 SCC OnLine Ker 4258, order dated May 18, 2016]

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