Compromise attained will bring peace and secure ends of justice: Meghalaya HC allows parties to settle in sexual harassment case

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The Meghalaya High Court has held that compromise between parties in a sexual harassment case under section 354A of the Indian Penal Code does not disturb public order and tranquility.

Justice B. Bhattacharjee noted that the complainant filed an FIR against the accused at Itanagar and due to the intervention of the families, they entered into a settlement deed as  both persons were known to each other. 
“The learned counsel submits that Section 354A IPC is not a compoundable offence and in such a situation petitioner have no other option but to approach this Court by invoking its inherent jurisdiction under Section 482 Cr.P.C.,” the bench noted, while quashing the FIR against the accused man.

The High Court also took note of the fact that since a compromise deed had been entered into, the state did not wish to pursue the case against the accused man.

The High Court relied on a 2010 judgment of the Supreme Court, Gian Singh versus State of Punjab and Another which stated that in cases where the High Court quashes a criminal proceeding, securing the ends of justice is the ultimate guiding factor. The apex court ruling had also pointed out that having regard to the fact that the dispute between the offender and the victim has been settled although the offences are not compoundable, the high court can do so as in its opinion as continuation of criminal proceedings “will be an exercise in futility” and justice in the “case demands that the dispute between the parties is put to an end and peace is restored”.

The single judge bench further pointed out that it was satisfied that the offence involved in the matter was entirely “personal in nature”.

It said that the offence does not affect public peace and tranquility. “It also appears that the compromise attained would bring about peace and secure ends of justice. Moreover, there is hardly any likelihood of the offender being convicted and not by quashing the criminal proceeding, justice shall be casualty and ends of justice defeated,” court noted.

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