The Bombay High Court last week ordered the Maharashtra government to consider making offences under domestic violence punishable under 498 A of the IPC, compoundable. The HC said that such a positive approach is already being followed in the state of Andhra Pradesh.
A bench of Justices Nitin Jamdar and Sarang Kotwal opined that doing so would save the time and energy of not only the litigants but also of the courts.
The bench was hearing a plea filed by one Siddhivinayak Virdhe along with his estranged wife Priyanka Bhat seeking to quash an FIR lodged against him in Solapur.
The couple stated that it has now amicably settled their dispute and want the FIR under charges of domestic violence be quashed.
Noting the contentions, the bench said, "We find that the case for exercise of extraordinary jurisdiction of this Court is made out. The dispute that led to the filing of an FIR is a matrimonial dispute which is now resolved. It does not have repercussions on the society at large."
"There is however a wider issue," the judges said, adding, "We note that a very large number of applications and writ petitions are filed in this Court for quashing of FIR filed under section 498A of Indian Penal Code, on the ground that the parties have settled their dispute."
"We were of this prima facie opinion, in the light of the fact that the State of Andhra Pradesh by amending section 320 of the Code of Criminal Procedure (CrPC)," the bench noted.
The judges further took into account the recommendation made in the 154th report of the Law Commission, to make the offence compoundable
"These recommendations are eloquent. It would be in the interest of all the parties concerned if the offence under Section 498-A of IPC is made compoundable with the permission of the Court with certain safeguards," the judges said.
The judges further said that whenever there is a discord between husband and wife, it leads to various litigations.
"Invariably prosecutions are launched under Section 498-A of IPC; the proceedings under the Protection of Women from Domestic Violence Act. On most occasions, all these proceedings are generally pending in different cities and, therefore, it is difficult and expensive for the parties to approach the High Court for getting the FIR and other proceedings under Section 498-A of IPC quashed," the judges said.
If the offence under Section 498-A of IPC is made compoundable with the permission of the Court, the Magistrate can interact with the parties and they can apply to the local Courts, the bench said.
"The parties can save expenses, time and energy in approaching the High Court. It will also free up the already crowded docket of this court. Most of these connected proceedings can be put to rest and the parties can resume normal life," the judges observed, adding, "It would be in the interest of the parties in such matters if the offence is made compoundable with the permission of the Court."
"Therefore, we are of the opinion that the government of Maharashtra should consider this aspect and consider making the offence under Section 498-A of IPC compoundable under Section 320 of CrP.C, with permission of the Court, as was done by the State of Andhra Pradesh," the judges said in their orders.
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