Quashing of FIR: 482 CRPC & S. 528 Bharatiya Nagarik Suraksha Sanhita, 2023
The criminal prosecution and the Criminal Trial is set into motion with filing of FIR. FIR is lodged by a victim or a complainant under section 154 CrPC [173 BNSS] or Section 156(3) CRPC [S. 175 BNSS] or Section 200/202 CrPC.
The police investigate the FIR and file charge-sheet if the charges in the FIR are proven to be correct. If the person named or not named in the FIR is aggrieved, and finds that the Fir is abused of process of law, the CRPC (BNSS) provides for seeking remedy to get it quashed.
The court, in the exercise of its inherent powers under Section 482 of the Code of Criminal Procedure (CrPC), refrains from determining the credibility of a witness's statement. This responsibility falls within the purview of the Trial Court. Therefore, applicants are advised to raise such matters during the framing of charges when the court takes up the case.
It's crucial to note that the power of the court to discharge an accused differs from the powers vested under Section 482 of the CrPC for quashing proceedings at their inception (as established in the case of Murari vs State of U.P, 1998(2) ACC 158).
The Supreme Court, in Union of India vs Sushil Kumar Modi, has emphasized that the High Court should exercise caution to avoid making observations that might be interpreted as expressing opinions on the merits of accusations against any individual. Such observations could potentially influence the trial's decision on merits.
Furthermore, it is argued that since the petitioner hasn't identified any legal violations in the course of the investigation, this is not an appropriate case for the High Court to quash the charge sheet against the petitioner and order a re-investigation.
The legal system offers avenues for individuals to pursue redress for unfounded allegations and unwarranted complaints in the pursuit of justice. One such option involves the High Court's power to annul a First Information Report (commonly known as a FIR), a petition seeking the nullification of the FIR, and any associated proceedings against the accused.
Under Section 482 of the Code of Criminal Procedure (CrPC) [Ss 528 BNSS], the High Court possesses inherent powers to take necessary actions to ensure the administration of justice. This authority is exercised by the court when it determines that the accused has been unjustly implicated, and that the First Information Report (FIR) either lacks merit or is frivolous.
This provision serves as a crucial safeguard against the misuse of judicial processes and the victimization of innocent individuals. Through the act of quashing a First Information Report (FIR), the High Court reinforces principles of fairness, safeguards the rights of those wrongly accused, and maintains the integrity of the legal system.
Grounds for Quashing of FIR
The Supreme Court of India, in cases such as Sundar Babu v State of Tamil Nadu and State of Haryana v Bhajan Lal, has established important guidelines outlining the grounds and conditions for quashing a First Information Report (FIR) under Section 482 of the Code of Criminal Procedure (CrPC). These guidelines serve as a framework for the High Court when determining whether to quash an FIR. The key points are as follows:
"8.1. In the exercise of the extra-ordinary power under Article 226 or the inherent powers under Section 482 of the Code of Criminal Procedure, the following categories of cases are given 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 guide-myriad kinds of cases wherein such power should be exercised:
(a) 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;
(b) where the allegations in the First Information Report and other materials, if any, accompanying the F.I.R. 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;
(c) where the uncontroverted allegations made in the FIR or ’complaint and the evidence collected in support of the same do not disclose 265 the commission of any offence and make out a case against the accused;
(d) 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;
(e) 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;
(f) 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;
(g) 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.
The court is tasked with finding a equilibrium between the authority granted by Section 482 and the unique circumstances of the case. Although no precise criteria are stipulated for the utilization of these powers, the court is obligated to guarantee the dispensation of justice.
In spite of the inclusion of Section 320 in the Code of Criminal Procedure, which necessitates the settlement of criminal proceedings before subordinate courts during trial or appeal, the provisions of Section 482 of the CrPC take precedence in the extensive powers vested in the High Court for the quashing of First Information Reports (FIRs).
Additional Grounds for Quashing FIR
Beyond the previously mentioned grounds, the High Court holds the authority to quash a First Information Report (FIR) even after the submission of a charge sheet or at different stages of the legal proceedings in specific circumstances.
Quashing of FIR after filing of Charge Sheet:
Under Section 482 of the Code of Criminal Procedure (CrPC), the High Court possesses the authority to quash a First Information Report (FIR) even after the prosecution has filed a charge sheet. In such instances, the accused have the right to approach the court and provide arguments illustrating the absence of substantial material evidence against them. Additionally, they can contest the charge sheet by highlighting inherent improbabilities in the facts and material gathered during the investigation. The expansive powers granted to the High Court under Section 482 empower them to order the quashing of the FIR based on these considerations.
Quashing of FIR on the basis of Compromise:
The High Court has the authority to quash a First Information Report (FIR) when a compromise is reached between the complainant and the accused. Both parties can jointly file a petition under Section 482 of the Code of Criminal Procedure (CrPC), outlining the terms and conditions of the settlement. The court will meticulously assess the facts, circumstances, and merits of the case before deciding whether to quash the FIR based on the compromise. However, if the court deems the compromise unsatisfactory or lacking genuineness, it may decline to quash the FIR. In such situations, if the offence is compoundable, the parties can resort to the trial court if the High Court has rejected the request to quash the FIR.
Quashing of FIR in Matrimonial Cases:
In specific matrimonial disputes, false allegations of cruelty against husbands and their relatives are often lodged under Sections 498A and 406 of the Indian Penal Code. Nevertheless, many times, the involved parties subsequently come to a mutual understanding. They may formalize their agreement through a Mutual Compromise Deed, which outlines the terms and conditions of the settlement. To have the First Information Report (FIR) quashed, both parties are required to appear before the High Court, record their statements, and establish their identities. This procedure can occur either during ongoing court proceedings or independently after the conclusion of divorce proceedings by mutual consent. Generally, the courts acknowledge the mutual settlement and issue an order to quash the FIR based on the compromise.
Quashing of FIR in Financial Disputes:
In instances of economic offences, there is often a request to quash the First Information Report (FIR) when the involved parties arrive at a settlement. This settlement typically addresses financial disputes and other related matters, and it is commonly documented through the execution of a Compromise Deed to formalize the agreed-upon terms. If the case involves serious offences beyond economic ones, the High Court, armed with authority under Section 482 of the Code of Criminal Procedure (CrPC), can direct the quashing of the FIR based on the settlement, considering the specific facts and circumstances of the case.