FIR is a foundation of the criminal case, in legal context FIR stands for First Information Report. Basically it is information associated with occurrence of any offence to the police. Once the FIR gets lodged, it goes through various stages of legal actions such as investigation, arrest, bails, trial, conviction, acquittal and sentencing. However, the complainant and accused can escape these stages by recording the statement with regard to settlement of their dispute before the concerned Magistrate and in some case parties need to seek permission of the court before doing so.
What does mean by the term quashing?
Quashing means to abate, dismiss or to make it completely void. Quashing of FIR means to cease the legal machinery which had been set in motion. In easy terms, it means to stop the process of legal proceedings which are in process. FIR can be quashed by invoking inherent powers of High Court which are contemplated under Section 482 of the Code of Criminal Procedure.
When FIR can be quashed?
Usually petition for quashing of FIR is filed before the filing of charge sheet. Generally the courts discouraged the practice of filing the quashing petition after filing of charge sheet. However, as per the wide scope of Section 482 of Cr.P.C. FIR can be quashed at any stage of the criminal proceedings.
Which Court can quash the FIR?
A High Court can quash the FIR by using its inherent powers granted under Section 482 of Cr.P.C. The High Court can quash FIR under this Section if it thinks that lodged FIR is a false one and was lodged with the sole motive to defame and trouble the aggrieved person. If High Court junked the plea for quashing then aggrieved person can move to Supreme Court by filing Special Leave Petition (SLP) under Article 136 of the Indian Constitution.
Conditions for quashing of FIR:
The Hon’ble Supreme Court in case of State of Haryana v. Bhajan Lal (AIR 1992 SC 604) laid down some conditions for quashing of FIR under Section 482 of Cr.P.C. These conditions are summarized below:-
- Where the allegations made in the FIR do not constitute a clear case against the accused.
- Where the allegations in the FIR and other materials 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.
- 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.
- 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 the Magistrate has issued order for the same, as contemplated under Section 155 (2) of the Code.
- Where the allegations in the FIR are absurd to the extent that no prudent man can ever reach a just conclusion that there are sufficient ground for proceeding against the accused.
- Where there is express legal bar engrafted in any provision of the Code or concerned Act under which a criminal proceeding is instituted, with regard to the institution and continuance of the proceedings and/ or where there is specific provision in the Code or concerned Act, providing efficacious redress for the grievance of the aggrieved party.
- Where a criminal proceeding is maliciously instituted with an ulterior motive for wrecking vengeance on the accused and with a view to spite him due to private and/or personal grudge.
Can FIR be quashed after filing of the charge sheet?
The High Court by exercising its inherent powers can quash the FIR even after filing of the charge sheet by the prosecution. The Supreme Court in Anand Kumar Mohatta and Anr. V. State (Government of NCT of Delhi) (Criminal Appeal No. 1395 of 2018) held that while exercising power under Section 482 of the Cr.P.C., the court can quash the FIR even if the charge sheet has been filed during the pendency of petition under Section 482, as the power under Section 482 is to be exercised to prevent the abuse of process and miscarriage of justice. The Apex Court also emphasized that powers under Section 482 of the Cr.P.C. can be exercised even if a discharge application is pending before the Magistrate.
Quashing of FIR on the basis of compromise:
The FIR can be quashed at any stage on the basis of compromise by the High Court. Both parties i.e. complainant and accused can enter into a compromise and then can file joint petition under Section 482 of Cr.P.C. on the basis of said compromise. The court after examining the all aspects of the matter may order for quashing.
However, heinous crimes such as murder, rape, and dacoity etc., offences which are not of private nature and have serious impact on the society, offences under special statutes like Prevention of Corruption Act and offences committed by public servants while working in that capacity can’t be quashed on the basis of compromise.
FIR can be quashed, even after the conviction where parties entered into a compromise during the pendency of appeal. In Dr. Arvind Barsaul v. State of Madhya Pradesh &another 2008 (2) RCR (Criminal) Page 910, The Apex Court quashed the FIR under Section 498-A IPC on the basis of compromise which have been arrived between the parties during the pendency of appeal after conviction.
What are Compoundable and Non-compoundable offences?
Section 320 of the Code of Criminal Procedure deals with the compounding of offences and categorized the offences into two parts i.e. offences compoundable without the permission of the court and offences compoundable with the permission of the court.
Compoundable offences: Under this category those offences are classified which are less serious in nature and can be settled by the parties with or without permission of the court. Offences such as Adultery, causing hurt, defamation and criminal trespass etc can be settled without the prior permission of the court. The offences where the permission of the court is required before compromise includes theft, criminal breach of trust, voluntarily causing grievous hurt and assault on woman with intention to outrage her modesty etc.
Non-compoundable offences: Those offence which are serious in nature and made impact on private party as well as society falls under the category of Non-compoundable offences. In such offences compromise is not allowed. However, Supreme Court in its latest verdict observed that High Court can quash the criminal proceedings even in case of non-compoundable offences where parties have entered into compromise by using its power under Section 482 of Cr.P.C.
What are other reliefs?
The remedy available under Section 482 of Cr.P.C. is applicable when there is abuse of legal process. There are other reliefs that can be sought in case of false FIR. These reliefs include the cancellation report and discharge of the accused. The cancellation report is presented by the police after conclusion of investigation. Cancellation report is presented by the investigation officer when he comes to the conclusion that no offence is committed. Investigation officer is duty bound to supply the copy of the same to the informant. If the Magistrate accepts the cancellation report presented by the police then FIR is deemed to be cancelled. It is notable that Magistrate can refuse to accept the cancellation report and can take cognizance of the offence.
The other one is discharge application which is only applicable in warrant cases. Warrant cases include those crimes which are serious in nature and punishable with imprisonment of more than 2 years. When police files the charge sheet against the accused after completion of investigation the Magistrate may disagree with the challan and drop the proceedings pending against the accused. Where the warrant case is instituted upon police complaint i.e. FIR, Magistrate can discharge the accused under Section 239 of Cr.P.C. after considering the Final Report and statements of witness showing that no prima facie case is made out.
In case where warrant case is instituted upon private complaint i.e. compliant made to Magistrate, after being satisfied that no case is made out against the accused, Magistrate can discharge the accused under Section 245 of the Cr.P.C.
The laws are made to guard people and to ensure that nobody is suppressing anyone. It is true that there are number of instances where person uses these laws to create trouble for innocent one. To tackle this lawmakers have given the High Court a power to quash an FIR if they are satisfied that it had been lodged with the only motive to trouble the person and it might be futile to continue the legal proceedings against that person. It is well settled law that High Court uses it inherent power where it is satisfied that offence is entirely personal in nature and doesn’t have any impact on society and quashing of such proceedings would bring harmony and secure ends of justice.
Associate at Aggarwals & Associates, S.A.S. Nagar, Mohali