New Delhi: Proceedings in heinous offences, like murder or rape cases, cannot be quashed even if the victims or their families settle the dispute with the accused, the Supreme Court has held.

A bench headed by Chief Justice Dipak Misra said that serious offences involving mental depravity or offences such as murder, rape and dacoity are not private in nature but have a serious impact on the society.

“Heinous and serious offences involving mental depravity or offences such as murder, rape and dacoity cannot appropriately be quashed (even) though the victim or the family of the victim have settled the dispute,” the bench, also comprising Justices A M Khanwilkar and D Y Chandrachud, said.

“Such offences are, truly speaking, not private in nature but have a serious impact upon society. The decision to continue with the trial in such cases is founded on the overriding element of public interest in punishing persons for serious offences,” the top court said.

The court observed this in a judgement while upholding the Gujarat High Court’s decision refusing to quash an FIR lodged against four persons in an alleged land grab case.

“Economic offences involving the financial and economic well-being of the state have implications which lie beyond the domain of a mere dispute between private disputants,” it said.

The bench dismissed the appeal filed by the four persons seeking quashing of an FIR against them for allegedly grabbing land on the basis of forged documents in Gujarat.

The petitioners had contended that the FIR against them should be quashed since the matter had been settled with the land owner who had filed a criminal complaint.

The court observed that the “high court would be justified in declining to quash where the offender is involved in an activity akin to a financial or economic fraud or misdemeanour.”

The apex court also took into account the alleged modus operandi of these persons and said that in the past as well, they have been purportedly linked with “nefarious activities” by opening bogus bank accounts.

“It was in this view of the matter that the high court observed that in a case involving extortion, forgery and conspiracy where all the appellants were acting as a team, it was not in the interest of society to quash the FIR on the ground that a settlement had been arrived at with the complainant,” it said.

PTI