The Supreme Court has held that a criminal complaint made u/s 498A and Dowry Prohibition Act cannot continue if the parties have amicably settled the matter. The order passed by a bench of Justices A.M.Khanwilkar and Dinesh Maheshwari found that the High Court despite the arrangement arrived at between the parties declined to quash the proceedings. It was held that the High Court should have taken note of the fact that the parties have amicably resolved all their differences and consciously chose to unconditionally drop all proceedings related to marriage inter se including the criminal action initiated by the complainant.
The brief facts of the case are that the complainant had filed complaint under Section 498-A IPC and 3/4 of the Dowry Prohibition Act. After receipt of summons of the said proceedings, the petitioner filed application for quashing inter alia relying on the settlement deed executed between the parties in matrimonial proceedings. Clause 4 of the Settlement Deed read as follows: "That all the cases related to their marriage against each other shall be withdrawn unconditionally and proceedings related to marriage against one another shall be deemed to have been disposed of automatically and that both parties will be free towards one another for marital obligations and are allowed to stay and reside separately. No transaction remains towards each other amongst parties and the parties 3 shall not institute any dispute or legal proceedings towards one another related to their marriage and all rights/relations related to marriage shall be deemed to have ended. Parties are free to marry again."
The Supreme Court noted that it is not in dispute that after the settlement, matrimonial proceedings have been finally disposed of. The order will have country wide effect as it is not only between husband and wife but other relatives as well who are made accused in a 498A complaint. Therefore, if the husband and wife settle their disputes, the criminal complaint cannot run against other accused relatives as well.