Legal Tips for Quashing of First Information Report (FIR) by the High Court: Lawyers Advice
According to Section 482 of the Code of Criminal Procedure, 1973, the High Courts have been conferred with inherent powers to pass any order to prevent the abuse of the procedure of the court and, otherwise meet the ends of the justice. Now, this inherent power may be utilized in quashing the First Information Report and further criminal proceedings. It may be noted that the First Information Report (FIR) shall only be quashed for offences of cognizable nature. Now, cognizable offences are those where the arrests can be made without a warrant. Also, the same shall be either bailable or non- bailable in nature. Notwithstanding its bailable or non-bailable nature, there is no precise and clear set of rules to carry out this procedure by the High Court.
Before moving ahead, it may be important to note the distinction between Bailable and Non-Bailable offences. Section 2 (a) of the Code of Criminal Procedure defines Bailable offences as those which have been described in the First Schedule of the Code of Criminal Procedure. These offences are those which can be made bailable by any other law for the time being in force and are less grave and serious in nature. For example, Rioting or armed with deadly weapons. While, on the other hand, non-bailable offences are those which are of grave and heinous in nature. Any other offences which are not-bailable are regarded non-bailable in nature. For example, Attempt to Murder.
Now there are few noteworthy points with respect to the quashing of the First Information Report, which is as follows: –
- If a person has been falsely implicated and accused of a compoundable offence, he/she may file a writ petition in the High Court under Article 226 of the Constitution of India read with (r/w) Section 482 of the Code of Criminal Procedure.
- Now, the burden of the proof lies upon the accused (petitioner) to prove that the case filed is malicious and false in nature.
Quashing of the First Information Report (FIR) in Non-Bailable Offences: –
In the case of non-bailable offences, it becomes really challenging for the accused and his counsel to quash the First Information Report. In the case the court is not satisfied with the facts and circumstances of the case, quashing of the FIR becomes a difficult job. Since non-bailable offences mostly involve crimes of the grave and heinous nature, it becomes difficult for the courts to take any step against the public peace at large. As mentioned above that the burden of the proof with respect to the case lies upon the accused. Thus, it is important to understand and comprehend certain crucial points imperative for the quashing of the First Information Report. These points are as follows:
- Nature & Gravity of the offence.
- Facts and Circumstances of the case.
- Possibility of settlement or compromise between the parties.
- Lack of Clarity of the evidence against the accused.
- Lack of Prima Facie evidence.
- Fairness of the Allegations made out in the FIR.
- Presence of legal bar against the initiation of the proceedings.
Notwithstanding, dispute settlement between the parties, the court is bound to proceed and pronounce verdict in the interest of the public to deter others from committing the crime of similar nature. However, in Narinder Singh v State of Punjab (Criminal Appeal No. 686 of 2014), the Hon’ble Supreme Court of India stated that in cases where the correctional objective of the crime can be given preference to deterrence. Then, in such a situation the settlement/compromise between the parties would be a better option to resolve the dispute. And, consequently, it would be easier for the court to quash the First Information Report against the accused person. Now, in a particular situation of a village where due to personal disputes between the parties, if one of them attempts to murder the other, and there is an FIR lodged against the former. But later, due to intervention in the matter by the elders of Panchayat, the parties have not only buried their hatchets but have decided to live peacefully in future. Then, in such cases, there are bleak chances of witnesses coming forward in support of the prosecution. Hence, the court might find it useless to drag the proceedings. Consequently, the same would quash the FIR using its inherent powers under Section 482 of the Code of the Criminal Procedure.
Quashing of the First Information Report ( FIR) is based upon the approach of the High Court towards a particular case which varies with the position of investigation of the evidence: –
It may be noted that the approach of the High court towards the case shall be different upon varying circumstances. For a matter where the investigation is ongoing but a dispute settlement has arrived between the parties after the commission of the alleged offence, the High Court may quash the First Information Report accepting the settlement. This is because although the investigation is on the charge sheet is yet to be registered. Coming to cases, where evidence is either its infancy stage or lacks clarity. The High court in such situations shall after a prima facie assessment of the material of the alleged offence, quash the First Information Report. However, for cases where investigations based upon pieces of evidence is almost done by the prosecution, the High Court in such cases normally refrains from exercising its power of quashing the First Information Report.
A First Information Report can be quashed irrespective of the fact whether or not a charge sheet is registered, or a discharge application is pending before the Magistrate –
Now since the primary target of the judiciary under Section 482 of the Code of the Criminal Procedure is to prevent the abuse of court procedure and secure justice. It may be interesting to note that the Hon’ble Supreme Court in Anand Kumar Mohatta and Anr. V State (Government of NCT of Delhi) (AIR 2018 SC 838) held that notwithstanding the fact that a charge sheet has been filed against the accused, the High Court may still quash the FIR against him using its inherent powers under Section 482 of the Code of the Criminal Procedure. Furthermore, even if the discharge application is pending before the magistrate court, the High Court still has the power to quash the FIR under the aforementioned section.
Conviction on false allegations made out in the First Information Report may right away lead to the quashing of the FIR: –
Cases against Dowry defined under Section 498-A of the Indian Penal Code, are sometimes used by women as a weapon to pressurize her in-laws and husband to fulfil her whims and caprices. The First Information Report filed in the name of Dowry or domestic violence thus contains averments of imaginary nature and without any material. Therefore, in R.P Kapur v State Punjab (AIR 1960 SC 866), the Hon’ble Supreme Court held that the when the allegation made out in the First Information Report does not make out the offence alleged, then the High Court has every power to quash the First Information Report in the favour of the alleged accused.
Quashing of the First Information Report (FIR) in Bailable Offences: –
Bailable offences are essentially less serious in nature. Thus, quashing the FIR in such offences certainly has fewer challenges for the accused and his counsel. Having said that, there are few pivotal points important for the accused and his counsel to comprehend in order to quash the FIR lodged against him. These points are as follows:
- Lack of Clarity in the evidence against the accused and no prima facie evidence established.
- Facts and Circumstances of the case
- If the averments made in the FIR are imaginary in nature and does not have any material.
- Possibility of the compromise of the dispute between the parties as a pre-condition to pre-dominance of civil nature in criminal offence.
- The Likelihood of the conviction of the accused is outlying or remote in nature.
Now, most points above are similar to that in the non-bailable offences. This is because any criminal offence irrespective of its nature is an offence committed against the public at large. In the case the court is unsatisfied with the facts and circumstances of the case, the accused would fail in getting his FIR quashed. Although, less serious in nature still the accused might have to stay behind the bars for some time. Now, as mentioned earlier the two most important condition before the High court in quashing the FIR is the prevention of abuse of the procedure and meeting the ends of the justice. For an accused it is important to prove that quashing his FIR would let the court secure its two most important conditions.
The Hon’ble Supreme Court’s guidelines with respect to the Lack of valid pieces of evidence in support of the allegations made out in the First Information Report: –
In Bhajanlal v State of Haryana (AIR 1992 SC 604), the Hon’ble Supreme Court of India provided few guidelines with respect to the exercise of inherent powers by the High Courts in quashing the FIR. The same are as follows: –
- Firstly, the allegations made out in the FIR, although accepted at the face value yet prima facie do not constitute any case against the accused. Presence of a prima facie evidence is imperative in getting the FIR quashed.
- Secondly, there is an absence of any evidence in support of the allegation made out in the FIR, thus lacks clarity as to whether the offence was committed by the accused.
- Thirdly, the averments made out in the FIR are imaginary or so absurd in nature that a prudent person might fail in concluding a valid ground to drag the proceedings.
- Fourthly, lack of cognizable nature in the alleged offence as described in Section 2 (c) of the Code of the Criminal Procedure might make it easier for the accused to get his FIR quashed by the High Court.
- Lastly, the existence of some legal bar in the Code of the Criminal Procedure or some other act under which a criminal proceeding may be initiated which provides redressal to the grievances of the accused.
The predominance of civil essence in the alleged criminal offence streamlines the process of quashing of the First Information Report: –
It may be important to note that, settlement or compromise between the parties to the dispute in bailable offences makes it trouble-free for the High Courts to quash the First Information Report. Compromise opens many gates for the accused and his counsel to get their work done by the Judiciary. In Gian Singh v State Punjab (Special Leave Petition Crl No. 8989 of 2010), the Hon’ble Supreme Court held that there are few categories of non-compoundable offences or the offences both parties as well the public have suffered the loss, First Information Report may be quashed. This category includes those criminal offences which have profuse civil flavour in them or simply those arising from commercial, civil, or partnership offences. However, it is necessary that the court must be satisfied with one of the three conditions, which are as follows: –
- There is a possibility of compromise between the parties involved.
- Now, it is important for the accused to establish that the likelihood of his conviction to the crime is bleak in nature.
- Lastly, if it is proved that initiation and further continuation of the proceedings would do grave injustice to the accused.
To conclude, it is important for the party (accused) to comprehend the crucial points related to the quashing of the First Information Report in order to tackle challenges efficiently. Quashing of the First Information Report in case of non-bailable offences is filled with more challenges than bailable offences. Another important point is that the approach of the High Court towards a particular case varies with the changing position of the investigation of the evidence. Possibility of compromise between the parties streamlines the process of quashing the First Information Report. Sometimes due to predominance of civil essence in criminal cases, getting quashed the First Information Report becomes easier. Also, the accused should emphasise on two important things in his petition before the court. These are, meeting the ends of the justice and preventing the abuse of the court procedure. The Guidelines provided by the Hon’ble Supreme Court of India are essential to the accused and his counsel for filing the petition for quashing the First Information Report.
Authored By: Adv. Anant Sharma & Aniket Pandey