Legal provisions for Quashing of FIR, High Court

Background of legal provisions for Quashing of FIR, by High Court Advocate

The legal term quash has been derived from the Anglo- French word casser meaning “to annul” and ultimately from Latin cassus, meaning void. The court has the power to quash unreasonable or irregular or oppressive subpoenas, injections, indictments and orders. When a judge is unable to deliver a judgement in a criminal matter case, in vague of a defective indictment, the courts typically quash the indictment. 

Under section 482 of the Code of criminal Procedure the power of quashing is defined. The section reads as:

482. Saving the inherent powers of the High Court. 

Nothing in this Code shall be deemed to limit or affect the inherent powers of the High Court to make such orders as may be necessary to give effect to any order under this Code, or to prevent abuse of the process of any Court or otherwise to secure the ends of justice.

This section closely resembles section 151 of the Code of Civil procedure. In a case of CBI v. Maninder Singh, it was held that the power under section 482 of CrPC must be used very sparingly  and especially in economic offences, merely because the party had reached a settlement with the bank cannot be a ground for quashing criminal proceedings. But this section doesn’t enhance the power of the High Court. Rather protects the inherent powers of the court. It does not give any new powers. The jurisdiction of the High court has a vast scope, but it is the practice that this section should be used only in exceptional cases. 

The Supreme Court has laid down some principles which would help to govern the inherent jurisdiction of the court given under the section are as follows: 

  1. the power is not to be resorted to if there is a specific provision in the code for the redress of the grievance of the aggrieved party; 
  2. it should be exercised very sparingly to prevent abuse of the process of any court or otherwise to secure the ends of justice; 
  3. it should not be exercised as against the express bar of the law engrafted in any other provision of the code. Whenever the court has inherent power, the court does not function as a court of appeal or revision. 

Inherent powers cannot be exercised to review judgement. 

In a case N Naveen Kumar v. State of AP, the accused was convicted in this case for bribery. Some of his property was directed to be sold by auction. That was in addition to the sentence of imprisonment and fine. An appeal against this was dismissed. An application was made by the legal heirs of the accused for permission to deposit certain sums in lieu of auction sale of property. This was held to be not tenable before the Appellate Court. The bar under section 397(2) of the code is applicable to the revisional powers only not to inherent powers. Even under section 341 of the code, the inherent power overrides the express bar against revision.

Under what circumstances the powers of Quashing are exercised by the High Court 

Inherent power under Section 482 in a matter of quashing of FIR has to be exercised sparingly and with caution and when and only when such exercise is justified by the test specifically laid down in the provision itself. The power under section 482 is very wide and conferment of wide power requires the court to be more cautious. It casts an onerous and more diligent duty on the court and the said power is not to be used to choke or smother a legitimate prosecution. 

The high court can quash an FIR or a complaint in exercise of its powers under article 26 of the Constitution of India or under section 482 CrPC:

  1. Where the allegations made in the FIR or the complaint, even if they are taken at their face value and accepted in their entirety, do not prima facie constitute any offence or make out a case against the accused.
  2. Where the allegations in the FIR and other materials accompanying FIR do not disclose a cognizable offence justifying an investigation under section 156(1) of CrPC except an order of a magistrate under section 155(2) CrPC.
  3. Where uncontroverted allegations in the FIR or the complaint and the evidence collected in support do not disclose the commission of any offence and make out a case against the accused.
  4. Where the allegations made in the FIR do not constitute a cognizable offence but constitute only a non-cognizable offence.
  5. Where the allegations made in the FIR or complaint are so absurd and inherently improbable on the basis of which no prudent person can ever reach a just conclusion that there is sufficient ground for proceeding against the accused.
  6. Where there is an express legal bar engrafted in the CrPC or the concerned act to the institution of criminal proceeding or where there is a specific provision in the CrPC or concerned act providing efficacious redress.
  7. Where a criminal proceeding is manifestly attended with mala fide or where proceeding is maliciously instituted with an ulterior motive for wreaking vengeance on the accused and with a view to spite him due to private and personal grudge.

The Supreme Court also has settled that the High Court should not entertain writ petitions under Article 226 and 227 and petitions unde section 482 for granting or rejecting request for bail which is the function of lower court. The High Court’s power under section 482 is not affected by the provision in section 497(3). The Supreme Court said:

Even if it is an interlocutory order, the High court’s inherent jurisdiction under section 482 is not affected by the provisions of section 497(3) CrPC. That The High Court may refuse to exercise its jurisdiction under section 482 on the basis of self-imposed restriction is a different aspect. It cannot be denied that for securing the ends of justice, the High court can interfere with the order which causes miscarriage of justice or is palpably illegal or is unjustified.

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