Law Insider India

Legal News, Current Trends and Legal Insight | Supreme Court of India and High Courts

Section 482 of the Code of Criminal Procedure – Inherent Power of the High Courts

8 min read

By Samriddhi Thakar

Published On: September 22, 2021 at 13:17 IST

Introduction

Currently, there has been a massive increase in false First Information Reports (FIR). Filing a false complaint against the other person has become a new trend. It has become a recent technique of retribution.

As a result, laws have been enacted to protect and safeguard the interest of such innocent people. Section 482 of the Criminal Procedure Code has conferred the power to the High Court to quash such false complaints, malicious proceedings against innocent people.  

Section 482 of the Criminal Procedure Code talks about the inherent powers of the High Court. It states it is the duty of the High Court to pass any orders, prevent abuse of process, and secure ends of justice.

The High Court of India is a result of the merger of two courts i.e., the supreme court and the mofussil courts. The first High Court was established in the year 1861 in Calcutta. Earlier, the jurisdiction of the High Court was limited. But today, it has increased a manifold. It is the second most important court in the hierarchy.

Thus, this article talks about the inherent powers of the High Court.

What is Section 482 of the Criminal Procedure Code?

Section 482 is mentioned in Chapter 37 of the Criminal Procedure Code under the title “Miscellaneous”. It deals with the inherent powers of the High Court.

“Saving of inherent powers of High CourtNothing in this Code shall be deemed to limit or affect the inherent powers of the High Court to make such orders as may be necessary to give effect to any order under this Code, or to prevent abuse of the process of any Court or otherwise to secure the ends of justice.” [i]

It simply means the High Court has powers to make orders to ensure justice. It can prevent abuse of process of any court and ensure justice to everyone.

Further, it has powers to quash an FIR (First Information Report) and the proceedings of the lower court. It has the power to quash the report of a police officer on the completion of the investigation.

Also, in the case where parties have reached compromise, the High Court has the power to quash the proceedings. 

What do you mean by quashing a First Information Report?

To quash a First Information Report, a petition is to be filed in the High Court. If the court is satisfied that the accused is falsely implicated or a false First Information Report has been filed against such person, the First Information Report will be quashed and action would be against such person for filing a false and bogus suit. 

The Supreme Court of India in Parbatbhai Aahir Vs the State of Gujarat[ii] has laid down certain points regarding the power of the High Court and quashing of a First Information Report. The points are as follows:

  • Section 482 preserves the inherent powers of the High Court to prevent 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 inherent in the High Court.
  • 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.
  • Before quashing a criminal proceeding or complaint under Section 482 of the Criminal Procedure Code, it is the duty of the High Court to evaluate whether the ends of justice would justify the exercise of the inherent power.
  • Under this section, the High Court has the power to secure ends of justice and prevent an abuse of process of any court.
  • The decision as to whether a complaint or First Information Report should be quashed on the ground that the offender and victim have settled the dispute, revolves ultimately on the facts and circumstances of each case.
  • The High Court 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. As such offences are, not private in nature but have a serious impact upon society.
  • The criminal cases involving offences that arise from the commercial, financial, mercantile, partnership or similar transactions with an essentially civil flavour if the parties settle the disputes, the High Court can quash the proceedings.
  • The High Court may also quash the proceeding in a case, compromise, has taken place between the parties, and the possibility of conviction is remote and the continuation of a criminal proceeding would cause oppression and prejudice.
  • Lastly, the High Court has the power to decline quashing of the proceedings in case of financial or economic fraud or misdemeanour.

The Delhi High Court, in the case of Dinesh Sharma & Ors Vs the State & Anr.[iii], held that heinous crimes like rape cannot be quashed by exercising the inherent power of the High Court under Section 482 of the Criminal Procedure Code even if compromise has been reached between the parties.

What are the powers of the High Court under Section 482 of the Criminal Procedure Code?

Under Section 482 of the Criminal Procedure Code, the High Court has power to act in such a manner to secure justice to the people, to quash First Information Report, investigation, or criminal proceedings if it is of the opinion that a First Information Report has been filed with malicious intention or false complaint.

If any person is accused of any offense that is non-compoundable, then he can approach the High Court file a Writ Petition under Article 226 (Power of the High Court to issue certain writs) of the Indian Constitution read with Section 482 of the Criminal Procedure Code.

What are the grounds of quashing a First Information Report?

The Court through various cases has laid down certain parameters/grounds for quashing a First Information Report. So, in the case of State of Haryana Vs Bhajan Lal[iv] following grounds were laid down for quashing of a First Information Report:

  • If the allegations made in the First Information Report or the complaint do not prima facie constitute any offense or make out a case against the accused.
  • If the allegations made in the First Information Report do not disclose a cognizable offence, which justifies the investigation by the police officer under Section 156(1) of the Criminal Procedure Code.
  • If the allegations made in the First Information Report and the evidence collected do not disclose the commission of an offence.
  • If the allegations in the First Information Report constitute a non-cognizable offence.
  • If the allegations made in the First Information Report are absurd and no prudent man can ever reach a just conclusion that there is sufficient ground for proceeding against the accused.
  • If the criminal proceeding is instituted maliciously or with mala fide intention with an ulterior motive for taking vengeance on the accused.

Thus, we can conclude there are no fixed grounds laid down regarding the powers of the High Court. The Court has to strike a balance between the powers of the Court under Section 482 of the Criminal Procedure Code and the facts and circumstances of each case.

What are various ways through which First Information Report can be quashed?

As mentioned above, the High Court under Section 482 has various powers, quashing the First Information Report is one of them. Let’s get to know various ways through which the First Information Report can be quashed.

  • Report of a police officer on the completion of the investigation.

After the completion of the investigation, the report is made. But if it is found that a person has been wrongfully or maliciously accused. Then, the High Court has the power to quash the report.

  • On the basis of Compromise.

When the parties to a case come to a compromise or settle the disputes, then the parties can jointly file a petition before the High Court under Section 482 for quashing the First Information Report. The Court after properly scrutinizing the facts and circumstances of the case, quash the First Information Report.

However, the Court in the case of Vinay Sharma Vs State of NCT Delhi[v] held that the First Information Report cannot be quashed in this case even though the parties have entered into a settlement. The Court was of the view that outraging the modesty of women comes under heinous crimes. Such offenses cannot be quashed even if the parties have reached a compromise as it will send the wrong message to society.

  • Financial Dispute.

In cases where economic offenses take place and both the parties decide to settle the disputes, the First Information Report can be quashed. The parties can file a petition. The High Court under Section 482 of the Criminal Procedure Code shall after considering the facts, quash the First Information Report.

  • Matrimonial Disputes.

A woman may file a case against her husband and relatives under Section 498A (Husband or relative of husband of a woman subjecting her to cruelty) of the Indian Penal Code. Sometimes it may be true or may be false. In such cases, the parties may resort to settling the dispute. Thus, if the parties settle the dispute and file a petition in the High Court. The Court will under Section 482 of the Criminal Procedure Code quash the First Information Report.

However, in the case of Geeta Mehrotra & Anr Vs State of U.P.[vi], the Supreme Court had held that making allegations against husband without having any conclusive proof is a ground to quash criminal proceedings instituted against him under Section 498A. The High Court shall under this case have the power to quash the proceeding.

Conclusion

The High Court under Section 482 of the Criminal Procedure Code has a wide scope and powers. The most important power is to secure ends of justice and prevent abuse of the power. The Supreme Court has under various cases laws laid down the parameters or grounds for exercising the powers under Section 482.   

However, as the scope of this section is wide, it can be easily misused. Hence, adequate guidelines should be laid down to prevent such misuse. The law is ultimately laid down for the welfare of the people. Many people file false petitions or complaints against innocent people. In such cases, the power of the High Court to quash such proceedings comes in to picture. Hence, the powers should be utilized cautiously.

References


[i] Criminal Procedure Code, Section 482

[ii] Parbatbhai Aahir Vs the State of Gujarat, CRIMINAL APPEAL NO.1723 OF 2017

[iii] Dinesh Sharma & Ors. Vs the State & Anr., CRL.M.C. 1002/2021

[iv] State of Haryana Vs Bhajan Lal, 1992 AIR 604

[v] Vinay Sharma Vs State of NCT Delhi, Crl. MC No. 174 of 2019

[vi] Geeta Mehrotra & Anr. Vs State of U.P., CRIMINAL APPEAL NO. 1674 OF 2012