Beginning with what is FIR?
FIR stands for First Information Report. Whenever any offence is committed, a written document is prepared by the police in pursuit of that offence. This written document is known as an FIR. In other words, it is a general complaint filed by the victim himself or someone on his behalf.
However, the meaning of FIR is different in different countries. In countries like India, Bangladesh and Pakistan, it can be about the commission of ‘cognizable’ offence whereas in countries like Singapore, it can be on the commission of the criminal offence.
FIR is very important because it is after an FIR only that police can begin with its investigation p and the process of justice can be set in motion. Anyone who gets to know about the commission of any offence can file an FIR.
As per law, whenever a person is narrating some information to the police, it is the duty of the police to write it down. The same person has the right to demand that information to read it. And also at the end, it must be signed by the person who has narrated it.
How can an FIR be quashed?
Petition for quashing any FIR is always filed in the High Court.
The power of quashing FIR vests with high court by way of Section 320 of Indian Penal Code and section 482 of criminal procedure code.
Under Section 320, the court is guided to quash the order on the basis of compromise between the parties and under Section 482, it is guided by the material on record as to whether the end of justice would justify the exercise of such power or not.
An important case law related to the topic is ‘Gian Singh v. State of Punjab’. Following guidelines were issued by the court:
- There is a distinction between power conferred by Sec. 320 and Sec. 482. Under Sec. 482 court has the power to quash the criminal proceedings which are even not compoundable. However, this power is to be used with caution.
- When the parties have reached a settlement and petition for quashing order is made the following factors need to be secured:
- Justice is done to the aggrieved.
- Process of the court is not abused in any manner.
- This power cannot be used in case of serious and heinous crimes like rape, murder, dowry or for offences committed under special statutes like prevention of corruption act or any other offence committed by public servant which need not be quashed by mutual compromise.
- Cases arising out of commercial transactions or matrimonial disputes should be quashed only when justice is done.
- A court must also see that the aggrieved is not put into extreme depression and injustice by not quashing the criminal cases.
- Offences committed under Sec. 307 are heinous and are treated as crimes against society. But it would be open to the court to go by the nature of the injury. The court can also go by the fact that settlement between the parties is going to result in harmony between them.
- While deciding cases under Sec. 482 timings play an important role. In cases where immediate settlement is done, FIR can be quashed because in such cases charge sheets are not made yet. On the other hand, in cases where the investigation is almost done and the conclusion is at the stage of argument, the court should refrain from using the power under Sec. 482 as in such cases the case can be decided easily on the basis of merits.
Similarly, in cases where a conviction is already recorded by the trial court and the matter is before the high court, mere compromise will not be accepted when the trial court has already proved the charge under Sec. 307 of IPC.
Supreme court’s power to quash FIR:
If High Court rejects or denies the petition, the petitioner can file SLP (Special Leave Petition) to the Supreme Court under Article 136 of the Constitution of India. The Supreme Court also has inherent power to deal with such matters. Same guidelines are followed which were given by the high court in case ‘Gian Singh v. State of Punjab’.
The Supreme Court in ‘Nikhil Merchant vs. Central Bureau of Investigation & Anr. (2008) 9 SCC 677’, held that technicality should not because of any hindrance in the process of criminal proceedings, because the continuance of the same offence after compromise arrived at between the parties would be a futile exercise.
Also, any FIR against a person can be quashed if it did not prima facie disclose any offence.