No law prevents courts from settling matrimonial disputes amicably: SC

Last Updated: Fri, Mar 15, 2013 17:30 hrs

New Delhi, March 15 (IANS) Pointing to the "outburst of matrimonial disputes", the Supreme Court Friday said that every efforts should be made for the couple to "live peacefully" and courts must contribute in this endeavour positively.

"The institution of marriage occupies an important place and it has an important role to play in the 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," said a bench of Justice P.Sathasivam and Justice Jagdish Singh Khehar in their judgment.

Speaking for the bench, Justice Sathasivam said: "If the 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 judgment set aside the July 4, 2012, order by the Indore bench of Madhya Pradesh High Court dismissing a petition by Jitendra Raghuvanshi seeking the quashing of the criminal proceedings in the case filed by his then estranged wife Babita, following an amicable settlement.

The high court had held that since the offences alleged in the case were non-compoundable, therefore it was not within its inherent power under Section 482 of the Code of Criminal Procedure to quash such proceedings. Raghuvanshi had challenged the trial court order which too had declined to stop proceedings in the wake of settlement between him and his wife.

Section 482 of the Code of Criminal Procedure provides for the inherent powers of the high court that could not be limited by any of provisions of the Cr.P.C.

In its judgment, the apex court said: "It is the duty of the courts to encourage genuine settlements of matrimonial disputes and Section 482 of the Code enables the high court and Article 142 of the Constitution enables this court to pass such orders."

"We also make it clear that exercise of such power would depend upon the facts and circumstances of each case and it has to be exercised in appropriate cases in order to do real and substantial justice for the administration of which alone the courts exist," it said to a the question whether it was impermissible for the court to quash the criminal proceedings or FIR or complaint merely because it was non-compoundable under Cr.P.C's Section 320.

"We hold", the apex court said, "that the high court in exercise of its inherent powers can quash the criminal proceedings or FIR or complaint in appropriate cases in order to meet the ends of justice and Section 320 of the Code does not limit or affect the powers of the high court under Section 482 of the Code".

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