Guideline For Quashing FIRs

Source: The Hitavada      Date: 16 Oct 2017 11:32:58


The case involves allegations of extortion, forgery, and fabrication of documents, utilisation of fabricated documents to effectuate transfers of titles before
the registering authorities and the deprivation of the complainant of his interest in land on the basis of a fabricated power of attorney.

IN THE judgement of the case – Parbatbhai Aahir alias Parbatbhai Bhimsinbhai Karmur and Others v. State of Gujarat and Another, delivered on October 4, 2017, Chief Justice of India, Dipak Misra, Justice A.M. Khanwilkar and Justice Dr. D.Y. Chandrachud, at the Supreme Court, have laid down 10-point broad principles emerging from the precedents on the subject of adjudicating applications for quashing FIRs under inherent powers conferred on the High Courts by Section 482 CrPC.


These principles in summarised form are: (i) Section 482 CrPC. preserves the inherent powers of the HC to prevent an abuse of the process of any court or to secure the ends of justice.


The provision does not confer new powers. It only recognises and preserves powers which are inherent in the HC; (ii) The invocation of the jurisdiction of the HC to quash a First Information Report –FIR 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 320 of the Code of Criminal Procedure, 1973.


The power to quash under Section 482 is attracted even if the offence is non-compoundable; (iii) In forming an opinion whether a criminal proceeding or complaint should be quashed in exercise of its jurisdiction under Section 482, the HC must evaluate whether the ends of justice would justify the exercise of the inherent power; (iv) While the inherent Power of the HC has a wide ambit and plenitude, it has to be exercised; (i) to secure the ends of justice or (ii) to prevent an abuse of process of any court; (v) The decision as to whether a complaint or First Information Report should be quashed on the ground that the offender and the victim have settled the dispute, revolves ultimately on the facts and circumstances of each case and no exhaustive elaboration of principles can be formulated; (vi) In the exercise of power under Section 482 and while dealing with a plea that the dispute has been settled, the HC must have due regard to the nature and gravity of the offence.

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 upon 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 offences; (vii) As distinguished from serious offences, there may be criminal cases, which have an overwhelming or predominant element of a civil dispute.

Those stand on a distinct footing in so far as the exercise of the inherent power to quash is concerned; (viii) Criminal cases involving offences which arise from commercial, financial, mercantile, partnership or similar transactions with an essentially civil flavour may in appropriate situations fall for quashing where parties have settled the dispute; ((ix) In such a case, the HC 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 (x) There is yet an exception to the principle set out in propositions (viii) and (ix).


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 HC would be justified in declining to quash where the offender is involved in an activity akin to a financial or economic fraud or misdemeanour. The consequences of the act complained of upon the financial or economic system will weigh in the balance.


Bearing in mind these principles, the Supreme Court has been of the view that the HC was justified in declining to entertain the application for quashing the FIR in the exercise of its inherent jurisdiction. The Gujarat HC took into consideration two significant circumstances. Each of those two has a significant bearing on whether the exercise of the jurisdiction under Section 482 to quash the FIR would subserve or secure the ends of justice or prevent an abuse of the process of the court. The first is that the appellants were absconding and warrants have been issued against them under Section 70 of the CrPC.


The second is that the appellants have criminal antecedents, reflected in the chart. Through its judgement on November 25, 2016, impugned in this appeal, the Gujarat HC dismissed an application under Section 482 CrPC. The appellants had sought quashing of a First Information Report –FIR registered against them on June 18, 2016, in Jamnagar district.


The HC has pointed out the modus operandi which had been followed by the appellants in grabbing valuable parcels of land and noted that in the past as well. They were alleged to have been connected with such nefarious activities by opening bogus bank accounts. It was in this view of the matter, the HC observed that in a case involving extortion, forgery and conspiracy where all the appellants were acting as a team, it was not in the interest of society to quash the FIR on the ground that a settlement has been arrived at with the complainant. In this respect, the Supreme Court has agreed with the HC.


In the present case, as the allegations in the FIR demonstrate, it is not merely one involving a private dispute over a land transaction between two contesting parties. The case involves allegations of extortion, forgery, and fabrication of documents, utilisation of fabricated documents to effectuate transfers of titles before the registering authorities and the deprivation of the complainant of his interest in land on the basis of a fabricated power of attorney.


If the allegations in the FIR are construed as those stand, it is evident that they implicate serious offences having bearing on a vital societal interest in securing the probity of titles to or interest in land. Such offences cannot be construed to be merely private or civil disputes but implicate the societal interest in prosecuting serious crime. In these circumstances, the HC was eminently justified in declining to quash the FIR which had been registered under Sections 384, 467,468, 471, 120-B and 506(2) of the IPC.
The Supreme Court found no merit in the appeal and dismissed it upholding impugned judgement passed by the Gujarat High Court.