Quashing of FIR/Criminal Proceedings Under Section 482 of CrPC

A brief write up on FIR quashing for understanding the concept and the powers of the court for FIR quashing. The accused or the suspected persons have the right to seek the FIR quashing on legal grounds and to show that the contents are contradictory and the FIR would never lead to a conviction of the accused person. This is a very important work as it leads to the FIR quashing, so it has to be done very carefully through a highly qualified and trained advocate. The grounds for FIR quashing needs to be determined very clearly and established before the court.

FIR quashing can be filed by the accused persons based on the merits of his case but one should bear in mind that prima facie they have to show a case in their favor on the basis of the charge sheet. If the charge sheet as filed by the police is in contradiction of any law, then also quashing of FIR can be done.

Quashing Lawyers - Quashing of FIR

FIR quashing can be done by filing a petition under Section 482 of CrPC. The said provisions related to FIR quashing read as under:

 

“Saving of inherent powers of 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.”

 

First Information Report is commonly known as FIR which is defined under Section 2 (d) of the Code of Criminal Procedure and reads as under:

 

“Section 2(d) in The Code Of Criminal Procedure, 1973

 

(d) “complaint” means any allegation made orally or in writing to a Magistrate, with a view to his taking action under this Code, that some person, whether known or unknown, has committed an offense, but does not include a police report. Explanation.- A report made by a police officer in a case which discloses, after investigation, the commission of a non- cognizable offense shall be deemed to be a complaint; and the police officer by whom such report is made shall be deemed to be the complainant;”

 

By its meaning, FIR is only a report to the police by anyone which the police is under obligation to investigate and determine the allegations and submit a charge sheet before the court or a closure report. The police may find the allegations of the FIR to be not proved or incorrect and file a final report or closure report before the court therein stating that the FIR needs to be closed.

 

STAGES OF FIR QUASHING:

  • FIR quashing can be done right after the registration of the FIR or during the investigation. It can also be done after the investigation is complete and the charge sheet if filed by the prosecution.
  • The next stage of FIR quashing comes when the police file a charge sheet before the court and the accused person feels that the contents of the same are inherently improbable or contradictory or impossible. The accused person has then a right to approach the High Court for quashing of the FIR. The quashing of FIR can be also done on the basis of compromise between the informant or complainant and the accused persons.

 

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LAW ON FIR QUASHING EXPLAINED :

 

Section 482 of CrPC, which deals with the power of court to quash criminal proceedings, hasn’t given the details of what exactly constitutes the inherent power of court. In that sense, the Code is very vague as it doesn’t lay out the grounds on which the foundations of the inherent power of court lay. Furthermore, there has been consistent inconsistency in the judgments of the Supreme Court of India with regard to the application of Section 482 of CrPC. Consequently, the application of section 482 of CrPC is a very agitated issue in litigation along with being a strongly debated concept in the legal academic circles.

 

  • The most comprehensive law on the point of FIR quashing was laid down by the Supreme Court in  State Of Haryana And Ors vs Ch. Bhajan Lal And Ors on 21 November 1990 reported in 1992 AIR 604, 1990 SCR Supl. (3) 259 which laid down various conditions under which FIR quashing can be done by the High Court. Subsequently,
  • Supreme Court has dealt with the matter of quashing of FIR at length in various cases and the landmark case which holds water till date. The most important case which can be referred in this regard is  Narinder Singh v. the State of Punjab (2014) 6 SCC 466 which established the following broad and specific parameters:

 

  1. FIR quashing can be done to prevent abuse of the process of the court.
  2. To secure the ends of justice FIR quashing can be done by High Court. 

Rules governing the petitions which pray for quashing of criminal proceedings 

In another important case Prashant Bharti v. State of NCT of Delhi (2013) 9 SCC 293, Supreme Court has enumerated the following important points for consideration of the court for FIR quashing under Section 482 of the CrPC:

  1. Whether the material relied upon by the accused is sound, reasonable, and indubitable, i.e., the material is of sterling and impeccable quality.
  2. Whether the material relied upon by the accused is sufficient to reject and overrule the factual assertions contained in the complaint, i.e., the material is such, as would persuade a reasonable person to dismiss and condemn the factual basis of the accusations as false.
  3. Whether the material relied upon by the accused, has not been refuted by the prosecution/complainant; and / or the material is such that it cannot be justifiably refuted by the prosecution/complainant.
  4. Whether proceeding with the trial would result in an abuse of process of the court and hence, would not serve the ends of justice.

The Court has finally held that if the answer to all these questions is in affirmative, then the FIR quashing could be done by the High Court.

In another important case, Parbatbhai Ahir v. the State of Gujarat (4 Oct 2017), the Supreme Court dealt in a comprehensive manner, the various important issues related to the FIR quashing which are listed as under:

  1. Section 482 preserves the inherent powers of the High Court to prevent abuse of the process of any court or to secure the ends of justice. The provision does not confer new powers. It only recognizes and preserves powers which are here in the High Court.
  2. The invocation of the jurisdiction of the High Court to quash a First Information Report or a criminal proceeding on the ground that a settlement has been arrived at between the offender and the victim is not the same as the invocation of jurisdiction for the purpose of compounding an offence. While compounding an offence, the power of the court is governed by the provisions of Section 320of the Code of Criminal Procedure, 1973. The power to quash under Section 482 is attracted even if the offence is non-compoundable.
  3. Informing an opinion whether a criminal proceeding or complaint should be quashed in exercise of its jurisdiction under Section 482, the High Court must evaluate whether the ends of justice would justify the exercise of the inherent power.
  4. While the inherent power of the High Court has a wide ambit and plenitude it has to be exercised;
    1. To secure the ends of justice.
    2. To prevent abuse of the process of any court.
  5. The decision as to whether a complaint or First Information Report should be quashed on the ground that the offender and victim have settled the dispute, revolves ultimately on the facts and circumstances of each case and no exhaustive elaboration of principles can be formulated.
  6. In the exercise of the power under section 482 and while dealing with a plea that the dispute has been settled, the High Court must have due regard to the nature and gravity of the offense.

Settlement and Consent Quashing:

Heinous and serious offences involving mental depravity or offences such as murder, rape, and dacoity cannot appropriately be quashed though the victim or the family of the victim have settled the dispute. Such offences are, truly speaking, not private in nature but have a serious impact on society. The decision to continue with the trial in such cases is founded on the overriding element of public interest in punishing persons for serious offenses.

  1. As distinguished from serious offences, there may be criminal cases which have an overwhelming or predominant element of a civil dispute. They stand on a distinct footing in so far as the exercise of the inherent power to quash is concerned.
  2. Criminal cases involving offences which arise from a commercial, financial, mercantile, partnership or similar transactions with an essentially civil flavor may in appropriate situations fall for quashing where parties have settled the dispute.
  3. In such a case, the High Court may quash the criminal proceeding if in view of the compromise between the disputants, the possibility of a conviction is remote and the continuation of a criminal proceeding would cause oppression and prejudice; and.
  4. There is yet an exception to the principle set out in propositions (viii) and above. Economic offences involving the financial and economic well-being of the state have implications which lie beyond the domain of a mere dispute between private disputants. The High Court would be justified in declining to quash where the offender is involved in an activity akin to financial or economic fraud or misdemeanor. The consequences of the act complained of upon the financial or economic system will weigh in the balance.”

 

If we summarize the legal provisions, we find that FIR quashing depends upon the facts and circumstances of each case and the High Court while exercising its powers under Section 482 of CrPC has the greater responsibility of considering the facts and then proceeding for FIR quashing keeping in the mind the interest of justice.

 

Quashing of criminal proceedings in matrimonial cases

Section 498 – A was brought in by the Indian legislature to help the hapless women who were worst victims of their husbands ire. But, of late, there have been innumerable instances of misuse of Section 498 – A. The situation has become so severe that there are dedicated non-government organizations (NGOs) which solely focus on advocating the repeal of Section 498. Also, there have been numerous instances in India, where the courts have criticised the provisions of Section 498 A, decried its use, and prodded the legislature to have a look at the issue.

 

  1. For instance, the Supreme Court of India observed in the case of Sushil Kumar Sharma v. Union of India (19 July, 2005), The object of the provision is prevention of the dowry menace. But as has been rightly contended by the petitioner many instances have come to light where the complaints are not bona fide and have filed the cases with oblique motive. In such cases acquittal of the accused does not in all cases wipe out the ignominy suffered during and prior to trial. Sometimes adverse media coverage adds to the misery…
  2. The Supreme Court of India has, many a times, held that the proceedings being pursued under Section 498 – A of IPC ought to be quashed if the chances of conviction are very bleak or the case has been filed with ulterior motives (in most cases, the ulterior motive is to settle personal scores).
  3. In B S Joshi v. State of Haryana 2003 (4) SCC 675, the Supreme Court justified the exercise of powers under Section 482 CrPC to quash the proceedings in matrimonial cases to secure the ends of justice in view of the special facts and circumstances of the case even where the offences alleged are non-compoundable. This very judgment was used by the Delhi High Court to quash criminal proceedings which had been initiated under Section 498 – A of the Indian Penal Code (hereinafter referred to as IPC), in the case of Girish Pandey v. State (20 Oct, 2016).
  4. Furthermore, it has been held in the case of Geeta Mehrotra v. State of Uttar Pradesh (17 Oct, 2012) by the Supreme Court of India that making general allegations against husband without any conclusive proof is ground enough to quash criminal proceedings instituted under Section 498- A of IPC.

 

Landmark cases related to abatement of criminal proceedings

Despite all the contradictions that appear in the various judgments of the supreme Court with respect to quashing of criminal proceedings, there are following two cases which are considered string authorities on the subject: 

In the case of State of Haryana v. Bhajan Lal 1992 AIR 604, the Supreme Court had laid down following seven categories of cases in which the court can quash criminal proceedings:

  1. Where the allegations made in the FIR, even if taken at 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, if any, accompanying the FIR do not disclose a cognizable offence, justifying an investigation by police officers under Section 156(1)of the Code except under an order of a Magistrate within the purview ofSection 155(2) of the Code.
  3. Where the allegations made in the FIR and the evidence collected in support of the same do not disclose the commission of any offence and make out a case against the accused.
  4. Where the allegations in the FIR do not constitute a cognizable offence but constitute only a non-cognizable offence, no investigation is permitted by a police officer, unless a Magistrate has issued an order for the same, as contemplated under Section 155(2)of the Code.
  5. Where the allegations made in the FIR are absurd to the extent that no prudent man 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 any of the provisions f the Code or the concerned Act, under which a criminal proceeding is instituted, with regard to the institution and continuance of the proceedings and / or where there is a specific provision inthe Codeor the concerned Act, providing efficacious redress for the grievance of the aggrieved party.
  7. Where a criminal proceeding is manifestly attended with mala fide intention and/or where the 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 / or personal grudge.

 

In the case of R P Kapur v. State of Punjab 1960 AIR 862, the Supreme Court of India held that criminal proceedings against a person can be quashed if the case being dealt with belongs to any one of the following three classes of cases:

  1. Where there is a legal bar against institution or continuance of the criminal proceedings.
  2. Where the allegations in the FIR do not constitute an offence, even if taken at face value and in their entirety.
  3. Where the allegations made constitute an offence, but there is no evidence which can prove them.

 

Discharge vs. Quashing Of Complaints In Criminal Prosecutions

In criminal prosecutions, it becomes important to analyze the remedies available with the accused in, especially the option of choosing between filing an application for discharge or approaching the High Court in a Quashing petition.

It is a continuous dilemma prevailing before the legal fraternity and the accused persons, i.e. whether they should approach the trial Court with an application for discharge, or approach the High Court under Section 482 of the Criminal Procedure Code (Cr.P.C.) for quashing of the summoning orders, provided they are of the view that their case has some merits for such relief.

The Hon’ble Supreme Court in the case of Bhushan Kumar & Anr. Vs.State (NCT of Delhi) & Anr. (http://judis.nic.in/supremecourt/imgs1.aspx?filename=39199) has held that:

“It is inherent in Section 251 of the Code that when an accused appears before the trial Court pursuant to summons issued under Section 204 of the Code in a summons trial case, it is the bounden duty of the trial Court to carefully go through the allegations made in the charge sheet or complaint and consider the evidence to come to a conclusion whether or not, commission of any offence is disclosed and

if the answer is in the affirmative, the Magistrate shall explain the substance of the accusation to the accused and ask him whether he pleads guilty otherwise, he is bound to discharge the accused as per Section 239 of the Code.”

In the Bhushan Kumar & Anr. vs. State (NCT of Delhi) & Anr, it was also held that the petition filed under Section 482 of the Code is not maintainable, cannot be accepted in view of various decisions of the Supreme Court of India (vide Pepsi Foods Ltd. & Anr. vs. Special Judicial Magistrate & Ors. (1998) 5 SCC 749, Dhariwal Tobacco Products Ltd. & Ors. vs. State of Maharashtra & Anr. (2009) 2 SCC 370 and M.A.A. Annamalai vs. State of Karnataka & Anr. (2010) 8 SCC 524)

Still, divergent views are being taken by various High Courts, directing the affected parties to first approach the trial Courts under Sections 239, 245 of the Cr.P.C. or approach the Session’s Court under its revisional jurisdiction, despite the fact that under Section 397 of the Cr.P.C., the High Court and the Session’s Court have the concurrent jurisdiction. Moreover, there has been a catena of judgments wherein it has been held that an accused can also approach the High Court under its inherent power for quashing of the summoning orders.

The general and consistent law is that the inherent power of the High Court under Sec. 482 of Cr.P.C. for quashing has to be exercised sparingly with circumspection and in the rarest of rare cases.

The Supreme Court in Som Mittal vs Govt. Of Karnataka , has held that the power under Sec. 482 Cr.P.C. must be exercised sparingly, with circumspection and in rarest of rare cases. Exercise of inherent power under Sec. 482 of the Code of Criminal Procedure is not the rule but it is an exception. The exception is applied only when it is brought to the notice of the Court that grave miscarriage of justice would be committed if the trial is allowed to proceed where the accused would be harassed unnecessarily if the trial is allowed to linger when prima facie it appears to Court that the trial would likely to be ended in acquittal.

In the case of Central Bureau of Investigation v. Ravi Shankar Srivastava, the Supreme Court was of the opinion that, the High Court in exercise of its jurisdiction under Sec. 482 of the Code does not function either as a court of appeal or revision, and held and envisaged that three circumstances under which the inherent jurisdiction may be exercised, namely,

  1. to give effect to an order under the Code,
  2. to prevent abuse of the process of the Court, and
  3. to otherwise secure the ends of justice.

The Supreme Court further held that while exercising powers under Sec. 482 of the Cr.P.C., the court does not function as a court of appeal or revision. Inherent jurisdiction under Sec. 482 of the Cr.P.C., though wide, has to be exercised sparingly, carefully and with caution and only when such exercise is justified by the tests specifically laid down in Sec. 482 of the Cr.P.C., itself.