Mumbai News

Consider Maharashtra’s bill on making Section 498A a compoundable offence: Bombay HC to Centre – The Indian Express

The Bombay High Court recently asked the central government to consider the Maharashtra government’s bill about making Section 498A (punishment for domestic violence) of the Indian Penal Code (IPC) compoundable (by effecting a compromise) with the permission of the trial court concerned. The bench cited hardships faced by several couples and their relatives, who are litigants in such cases, due to legal expenses in approaching the high court and travelling from their villages or towns.

A division bench of Justice Revati Mohite-Dere and Justice Prithviraj K Chavan passed an order last month, which was made available on Tuesday. The bench allowed a plea filed by a husband, his mother and sister through advocate Datta Mane seeking to quash by consent an FIR filed by the respondent wife in 2018 at Hadapsar police station, Pune under Section 498A of the IPC.

The court noted that the parties, including the couple, had decided to amicably settle their disputes and the wife has filed her affidavit giving consent and no-objection to quash FIR and consent terms were filed before the family court in Pune. As per said terms, the wife would get Rs 25 lakh by way of final settlement, out of which she received Rs 10 lakh and the balance amount would be paid to her on the date of the decree of divorce by mutual consent. The high court allowed the plea, quashed the FIR and also set aside the proceedings arising out of it pending before the magistrate court in Pune.

The bench observed, “The importance of making the Section 498A compoundable with the permission of the Court, can hardly be overlooked/understated…Everyday, we have a minimum of 10 petitions/applications seeking quashing of Section 498A by consent, since 498A is non-compoundable. Concerned parties have to come personally before the Court from wherever they are residing, including from villages, thus incurring tremendous hardships for the parties concerned, apart from travelling expenses, litigation expenses and staying expenses in the city. Parties, if working, are required to take a day off.”

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It added, “Apart from the hardships caused to parties, if Section 498A is made compoundable with the permission of the Court, precious time of the Court can be saved. Cases under Section 498A are not such, that a Magistrate cannot compound the same, with the permission of the said Court. It is pertinent to note that the State of Andhra Pradesh, has made Section 498A compoundable with the permission of the Court, way back as in 2003.”

Advocate General Ashutosh Kumbhakoni, representing the state government, informed the bench about the steps taken by the government to make Section 498A compoundable. He informed that a bill was passed for amending the Criminal Procedure Code (CrPC), 1973 so as to make the offence under Section 498A a compoundable offence. Kumbhakoni added that the said bill was passed in both houses of the state legislature and currently it is pending before the Union Home Ministry for its approval.

Stressing on pendency in deciding domestic violence cases, the bench referred to the National Crime Records Bureau (NCRB) report of 2020, wherein a total of 1,11,549 cases were registered under Section 498A of IPC and of these, 5,520 were closed by police citing them as false and overall 16,151 cases were closed by police either because they were false or there was a mistake of fact or law or it was a civil dispute etc. It observed that 14.4% of cases were closed by police for not finding merit in the case. Moreover, 96,497 men and 23,809 women were arrested, merely 18,967 (total arrests being 1,20,306) cases were tried in courts of which 14,340 led to acquittal and 3,425 led to a conviction. It also added that pendency of the cases under Section 498A at the end of 2020 was 6,51,404 with a pendency percentage of 96.2%


The court also noted that the need to make domestic violence a compoundable and bailable offence in the state was considered in 1992 by the high court and various Law Commission reports had also given clear recommendations in that regard.

In view of this, the bench directed the high court registry to forward a copy of its order to the Additional Solicitor General (ASG) Anil Singh “for taking necessary steps/action and to enable him to take up the issue before the concerned Ministry, at the earliest” and posted the plea for passing relevant directions on December 19.