What is Quashing of FIR?
Quashing of FIR
Quashing means to abate, overthrow, or to dismiss it or to make it completely void. Generally, quashing of FIR (first information report) in criminal proceedings means completely stopping the process of the legal proceedings that are in process.
Section 482 Cr.P.C.
It enables the High Courts to pass such order of Quashing of FIR to secure the ends of Justice. Lets see what Section 482 Cr.P.C says:
482: 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.
Section 482 is prefaced with an overriding provision. The statute saves the inherent power of the High Court, as a superior court, to make such orders as are necessary (i) to prevent an abuse of the process of any court; or (ii) otherwise to secure the ends of justice. In Gian Singh (supra) a bench of three learned Judges of this Court adverted to the body of precedent on the subject and laid down guiding principles which the High Court should consider in determining as to whether to quash an FIR or complaint in the exercise of the inherent jurisdiction.
The considerations which must weigh with the High Court are:
The power of the High Court in quashing a criminal proceeding or FIR or complaint in exercise of its inherent jurisdiction is distinct and different from the power given to a criminal court for compounding the offences under Section 320 of the Code. Inherent power is of wide plenitude with no statutory limitation but it has to be exercised in accord with the guideline engrafted in such power viz.: (i) to secure the ends of justice, or (ii) to prevent abuse of the process of any court. In what cases power to quash the criminal proceeding or complaint or FIR may be exercised where the offender and the victim have settled their dispute would depend on the facts and circumstances of each case and no category can be prescribed. However, before exercise of such power, the High Court must have due regard to the nature and gravity of the crime. Heinous and serious offences of mental depravity or offences like murder, rape, dacoity, etc. cannot be fittingly quashed even though the victim or victim’s family and the offender have settled the dispute. Such offences are not private in nature and have a serious impact on society.
FIR quashing procedure
Law settled on Quashing of FIR
In State of Haryana and Ors. v. Bhajan Lal and Ors
The Hon’ble Supreme Court set out the categories of cases in which the inherent power under Section 482 of Cr.P.C. can be exercised. Para 102 of the judgment reads as follows: –
“102. In the backdrop of the interpretation of the various relevant provisions of the Code under Chapter XIV and of the principles of law enunciated by this Court in a series of decisions relating to the exercise of the extraordinary power under Article 226 or the inherent powers under Section 482 of the Code which we have extracted and reproduced above, we give the following categories of cases by way of illustration wherein such power could be exercised either to prevent abuse of the process of any court or otherwise to secure the ends of justice, though it may not be possible to lay down any precise, clearly defined and sufficiently channelised and inflexible guidelines or rigid formulae and to give an exhaustive list of myriad kinds of cases wherein such power should be exercised.
(1) Where the allegations made in the first information report 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 first information report 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 of Section 155(2) of the Code.
(3) Where the uncontroverted allegations made in the FIR or complaint 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 without an order of a Magistrate as contemplated under Section 155(2) of the Code.
(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 any of the provisions of the Code or the concerned Act (under which a criminal proceeding is instituted) to the institution and continuance of the proceedings and/or where there is a specific provision in the Code or the concerned Act, providing efficacious redress for the grievance of the aggrieved party.
(7) Where a criminal proceeding is manifestly attended with mala fide 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 personal grudge.”
State of Karnataka v. L. Muniswamy and others
It was held that High Court Can quash the proceedings if:
“7. …..In the exercise of this wholesome power, the High Court is entitled to quash a proceeding if it comes to the conclusion that allowing the proceeding to continue would be an abuse of the process of the Court or that the ends of justice require that the proceeding ought to be quashed. The saving of the High Court’s inherent powers, both in civil and criminal matters, is 1977 (2) SCC 699 designed to achieve a salutary public purpose which is that a court proceeding ought not to be permitted to degenerate into a weapon of harassment or persecution. In a criminal case, the veiled object behind a lame prosecution, the very nature of the material on which the structure of the prosecution rests and the like would justify the High Court in quashing the proceeding in the interest of justice…..”
Petition For Quashing FIR Can Be Entertained Even If Charge sheet Is Filed During Its Pendency
Anand Kumar Mohatta vs State (Govt. Of Nct Of Delhi)
Quashing of FIR after Chargesheet
Supreme Court held that High Courts can entertain a petition filed under Section 482 CrPC seeking quashing of FIR, even if the charge sheet is filed during the pendency of that petition.
“There is nothing in the words of this Section which restricts the exercise of the power of the Court to prevent the abuse of process of court or miscarriage of justice only to the stage of the FIR. It is settled principle of law that the High court can exercise jurisdiction under Section 482 of Cr.P.C even when the discharge application is pending 2 (2011) 7 SCC 59 7 with the trial court. Indeed, it would be a travesty to hold that proceedings initiated against a person can be interfered with at the stage of FIR but not if it has advanced, and the allegations have materialized into a charge sheet. On the contrary it could be said that the abuse of process caused by FIR stands aggravated if the FIR has taken the form of a charge sheet after investigation. The power is undoubtedly conferred to prevent abuse of process of power of any court.”
FIR Quashing grounds
Parbatbhai and Ors. Vs State of Gujrat and Anr
Order Dated: November 25TH 2016
Summary of the Case: In this case, the Gujarat high court had rejected the plea of quashing of the FIR of which an application was submitted by the applicant and wherein a case was registered under section384,467,471,120 (b) and 506(2) of the Indian Penal Code. The opposition regarding the quashing of the FIR was on two grounds. They were as follows:
- The warrants had already been issued against the applicant under section 70 of CrPC.
- The applicants had a prior criminal record and were culprits of crime previously.
Therefore, on these two grounds, the high court rejected the application for quashing of the FIR.
Thus, the Supreme Court has laid down various principles for grounds of rejecting or accepting an application under section 482 of the criminal procedure code for quashing an FIR:
- To secure the powers of the court of law, to try to avoid the misuse of powers, and if someone tries to abuse the due process of law in any way or cheat with the court of law.
- The quashing of the FIR in criminal proceedings or any other matter should purely depend on the facts and circumstances of the case and whether the disputes have been settled with mutual consent or not.
- In cases where the public interest lies, the quashing of the FIR does not always take place, and thus, it should only be done at the discretion of the court.
- Cases which are civil in nature, the criteria for quashing of an FIR is entirely different when compared with criminal cases.
- Criminal cases with the combination of civil cases have higher chances that their application in regards to the quashing of the FIR might get accepted by the court of law. For example, cases related to mercantile law, finance law has the probability that their application is not rejected.
Thus, in this case, the Supreme Court has agreed and upheld the decision of the Gujarat High Court in rejecting the application for quashing the FIR while exercising power vested by the High Court.