No settlement in serious offences through compromise deals: SC

A bench of justices B S Chauhan and T S Thakur while sustaining the conviction, however, reduced the three years' punishment of appellants - Rajan and Chetan to the period already undergone by them.

The accused were awarded three years imprisonment under Section 307 IPC (attempt to murder) in a property dispute case with their uncle Veeraji's family at Sonasavri in Madhya Pradesh's Hoshangabad district on September 30, 1994. The accused are the sons of Gulab Das, brother of Veeraji.

The convicts had appealed in the Madhya Pradesh High Court which dismissed their petition, upon which they moved the apex court.

Senior counsel June Chaudhari had submitted that during the pendency of the appeal in the apex court, the parties had entered into an amicable settlement and a compromise deed was signed between them. Hence, she had said, the case should be compounded under section 320 CrPC (by closing the case by paying fine) or else a lenient view of the sentence should be taken.

The apex court, however, rejected the plea by citing its earlier order in similar cases.
"Our answer is in the negative... It cannot be allowed to be compounded even if there is any settlement between the complainant on the one hand and the accused on the other," Justice Thakur said in the judgement.The apex court, however, said the compromise arrived at between the parties can be taken into consideration for the purpose of determining the quantum of sentence to be awarded to the appellants.
"There are a few other circumstances that persuade us to interfere on the question of sentence awarded to the appellants. The incident had taken place in 1994. Both appellants were in their twenties. More so, they have already served substantial part of the sentence awarded to them.

"We are of the view that the settlement arrived at between the parties is a sensible step that will benefit the parties, give quietus to the controversy and rehabilitate and normalise the relationship between them," the bench said.

Accordingly, the apex court while upholding the order of conviction recorded by the courts below, reduced the sentence awarded to the appellants to the punishment already undergone by them.

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