Observing that matrimonial disputes are “inherently personal in nature”, the Delhi High Court said that “courts now are normally of the view that an endeavour should be made to promote conciliation and secure speedy settlement in these matters.”
The bench of Justice P S Teji, in a judgment issued on March 22, observed that even though the offence under section 498 A (cruelty to married woman by husband or relative) of the IPC was non-compoundable, “in such cases, pursuing prosecution would be a waste of time and energy.”
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“Non-compoundable offences are basically an obstruction to entering into compromise,” observed the judge.
The observations were made while disposing of a plea to quash an FIR filed by a woman against her husband and his family. The husband and wife reached a mutual settlement and agreed to a divorce, after the court directed mediation and conciliation proceedings. “As matrimonial disputes are mainly between husband and wife and personal matters are involved in such disputes, it requires conciliatory procedure to bring a settlement between them. Nowadays, mediation has played a very important role in settling the disputes, especially matrimonial disputes and has yielded good results,” said Justice P S Teji.
“it is a well settled law that where the High Court is convinced that the offences are entirely personal in nature and therefore do not affect public peace or tranquility and where it feels that quashing of such proceedings on account of compromise would bring about peace and would secure ends of justice, it should not hesitate to quash them,” said the bench.
The court noted that the 59th report of the Law Commission had emphasised that while dealing with disputes concerning the family, “the court ought to adopt an approach radically different from that adopted in ordinary civil proceedings and it should make reasonable efforts at settlement before commencement of trial.”
“It is also the constitutional mandate for speedy disposal of such disputes and to grant quick justice to litigants. But our courts are already over-burdened… it becomes difficult for speedy disposal of matrimonial disputes alone,” the court observed.