The Madhya Pradesh High Court recently rendered a significant decision, quashing a rape case based on a settlement agreement between the complainant and the accused. In this legal development, the accused individuals opted to forgo their claim of Rs 10 lakhs against the complainant, who had issued dishonored cheques. The court, with the woman's consent, decided to dismiss the case.
Justice Subodh Abhyankar, presiding over the matter, highlighted a crucial aspect. Despite the alleged incident occurring when the complainant was a minor, the First Information Report (FIR) was not filed until nine years later, when she was approximately 26 years old. In light of this delay, coupled with the parties' agreement, Justice Abhyankar remarked, "Thus, it cannot be said that the prosecutrix is not aware of the facts and circumstances of the case or that she has not given her consent consciously. In view of the same, since the case is at its initial stage, and even the charge sheet has not been filed, this Court is inclined to allow the present petition."
The FIR against the three petitioners encompassed charges under Sections 376(2)(f), 328, 384, and 109 of the Indian Penal Code, 1860, along with Section 5/6 of the Prevention of Children from Sexual Offences Act, 2012. Notably, the victim or prosecutrix was the niece of the wife of the primary petitioner.
The court's decision to grant the petition was rooted in the precedent set by the Supreme Court in the case of Kapil Gupta v. State of NCT of Delhi, 2022 SCC OnLine SC 1030. The Supreme Court, in that instance, held that if an application to quash an FIR related to a grave offense like rape is not belated and the settlement could improve the relationship between the parties, a court might consider quashing criminal proceedings, particularly when evidence has not been presented.
"On the anvil of the aforesaid dictum of the Supreme Court, having considered rival submissions and on perusal of the documents filed on record, as also taking note of the consent of the prosecutrix, who is present in person, this Court is inclined to allow this petition," the court stated. The accused and the prosecutrix belonged to the same family, with the prosecutrix being the daughter of the sister of the wife of the primary petitioner. Additionally, the petitioner's counsel assured that no coercive action would be taken against the prosecutrix, emphasizing that all matters between the parties had been resolved.
The court's reliance on the Supreme Court's perspective in the Kapil Gupta case underscores the importance of timely applications for quashing, especially in cases of serious offenses. The court acknowledged that the potential for settlement and improved relations between the parties could be a valid consideration, particularly when criminal proceedings are still in their early stages and evidence is yet to be presented.
In conclusion, the Madhya Pradesh High Court's decision to quash the rape case based on a settlement agreement reflects the evolving legal landscape surrounding such matters. The court's careful consideration of the circumstances, including the delayed filing of the FIR and the mutual agreement between the parties, aligns with the broader legal principles outlined by the Supreme Court. This case serves as a noteworthy example of how courts may approach complex issues involving serious offenses and the potential for amicable resolutions through settlements.
TAGS: Rape case Settlement agreement ,Complainant Accused ,Dishonored cheques ,Consent Justice Subodh Abhyankar FIR (First Information Report) .