The Punjab and Haryana High Court has made it clear that an act of sacrilege pertaining to any religion falls in the category of serious and heinous offence. It should not ordinarily be quashed on the basis of a compromise.
Justice Jasgurpreet Singh Puri, at the same time, made it clear that the high court might invoke its jurisdiction under Section 482 of the Code of Criminal Procedure for quashing of an FIR in such matters based on a compromise, if conclusive evidence –– oral or documentary –– was not collected by the investigating agency during the probe for holding the accused guilty even after the trial.
Justice Puri added the court, under such circumstances, coupled with peculiar and special facts of the matter, might go ahead with the quashing of the FIR. But it was required to exercise extreme care and caution in the process.
The judgment is significant as the Supreme Court has held that cases involving serious or heinous offences of mental depravity, or offences such as murder, rape and dacoity, cannot be “fittingly” quashed even though the victim or the family and the offender had settled the dispute. Such offences were not private in nature and had a serious impact on society.
Justice Puri asserted the offence of sacrilege under Section 295 of the IPC had a serious impact on society at large and the “continuation of trial of such cases will be founded on the overriding effect of public interest in punishing the persons for such serious offences”. The theory and philosophy of deterrence was fully applicable to offences related to sacrilege.
Justice Puri was hearing arguments on a petition seeking the quashing of an FIR registered on October 21, 2022, for sacrilege and other offences under Sections 295, 427 and 34 of the IPC at a police station in Amritsar. Directions were also sought to quash the consequent proceedings on the basis of a compromise arrived at between the parties.
Justice Puri’s Bench was told that the petitioners, father-son duo, purchased a model of Golden Temple. A quarrel ensued after the seller approached them for money. One of them picked up the model and threw it on the ground before inflicting kicks. The petitioners, it was alleged, committed an act of sacrilege.