‘This is an offence against society which needs deterrence’

The Delhi High Court has declined to quash an FIR for a dowry death on the basis of a settlement between a man and his deceased wife’s family, saying it is a grave and heinous offence which is actuated by a social evil that needs deterrence.

Justice Mukta Gupta said that in the present case, the wife ended her life by suicide within five months of the marriage due to the harassment caused by the husband and his family members.

“The offence punishable under Section 304-B [dowry death] of the Indian Penal Code is not only a grave and heinous offence but an offence against society actuated by the social evil of demand of dowry, thus needs deterrence and, therefore, cannot be quashed on the basis of a settlement arrived at between the accused and the complainant,” Justice Gupta said.

While dismissing the petition by the man and other accused family members for quashing the FIR, the High Court reminded them of a judgment passed by the Supreme Court which “clearly laid down that where serious and grave offences are involved, the quashing of FIR cannot be allowed on the basis of the compromise”.

The victim’s family had alleged that after the marriage in March 2021, the man and other accused started harassing her for dowry. Subsequently, in August, the family received a phone call that their daughter ended her life by suicide.

During the pendency of the investigation, the man and the woman’s family arrived at a settlement, which they said, was without any coercion and without any transfer of money.

The woman’s family, in the settlement, said that they had no claim and grievance against the man and other accused. The accused argued that in view of the settlement, no useful purpose would be served in continuing the FIR and the consequent criminal proceedings against them.

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