The Supreme Court has stressed on the need for saving the institution of marriage by settling disputes between fighting couple amicably, saying that matrimonial alliance plays an important role in the life of individuals.
A three-judge bench presided over by Justice P Sathasivam also said that the courts should be more than willing to quash the criminal complaint or FIR if both parties showed readiness to bury their hatchet.
“There has been an outburst of matrimonial disputes in recent times. The institution of marriage occupies an important place and it has an important role to play in society. Therefore, every effort should be made in the interest of the individuals in order to enable them to settle down in life and live peacefully.”
“If parties ponder over their defaults and terminate their disputes amicably by mutual agreement instead of fighting it out in a court of law, in order to do complete justice in the matrimonial matters, the courts should be less hesitant in exercising its extraordinary jurisdiction,” the bench added.
The apex court set aside an order passed by the Madhya Pradesh High Court (HC) in July disallowing a plea made by a harried husband for quashing an FIR registered against him for dowry harassment and criminal breach of trust, despite his wife’s willingness to withdraw the complaint.
Duty of Court
The HC had rejected their application stating that the court has no power to quash criminal proceedings in respect of offences under Sections 498A (cruelty) and 406 (criminal breach of trust) of the Indian Penal Code since both are non-compoundable.
The apex court bench, also comprising Justices J S Khehar and Kurian Joseph, ruled that the view taken by the HC was wrong, saying that application filed by the couple was not for compounding of non-compoundable offences but for quashing of the criminal proceedings.
“The inherent powers of the High Court under Section 482 (quashing) of the Criminal Procedure Code (CrPC) are wide and unfettered,” the court said.
However, this power had to be exercised in appropriate cases, it added.
“It is the duty of the courts to encourage genuine settlements of matrimonial disputes, and Section 482 of the CrPC enables the High Court and Article 142 of the Constitution enables this court to pass such orders,” the bench said.