Jan 1, 2024

The Power of Quashing an FIR: Countermanding Allegations

Ananya Tyagi

The Power of  Quashing an  FIR: Countermanding Allegations 



What sounds like a dialogue right out of a movie or a soap opera can be a reality for anyone. The registration of the First Information Report or an F.I.R. sets the criminal investigation machinery in motion.  However, the process can be misused. Cases of false FIRs can reshape it into a tool of threat, intimidation, and harassment. To guard against such misuse, the law lays down the power to quash an FIR. Before we understand this power and the process, let us look at some related terms, and provisions and answer some questions related to FIR. 


An FIR is information received by the police, regarding a cognizable offence u/s 154 of Cr.P.C. Cognizable offences are those offences in which the police can arrest someone without a warrant. While Police officers can make arrests in such cases as needed, arresting someone when an FIR is registered is not mandatory.  For non-cognizable offences, the police cannot investigate or arrest without a warrant.

Lalita Kumari vs. Govt. of U.P & Ors. has made it mandatory for any police officer to register an FIR, when they receive information that someone has committed a cognizable offence. The police officer has no discretion in the matter and cannot deny the registration of an FIR. The informant must convey the specifics of how the offence was committed, on the face of it. They are not required to prove the offence or know all the details of the offence as such. 

Who Can Register An FIR?

A victim, acquaintance, or any person who has knowledge that an offence has been committed can register an FIR. As the name suggests, it is only the first information that a police officer receives about an offence that is treated as an FIR.

If the police officer denies or neglects to register your FIR, S.154 of Cr. P.C. lays down the remedy, according to which you can send information about this via post (in writing) to the Superintendent of Police.

How To Convey The Information For The FIR?

The purpose of registering an FIR is to receive and record the information about the commission of a cognizable offence, only after which the process of investigation starts.

The informant can give the information in writing followed by their signature. The informant can also choose to report verbally. The police officer then reduces it into writing and reads it over to the informant for verification and signing. The police officer must provide the informant with a free copy of the registered FIR.

 Registering A False FIR: An Actionable Offence

Knowingly registering a mala-fide, misleading, or false FIR,  is an offence under the Indian Penal Code. 

A person who provides wrong information to a public official (in this case a police officer for registration of an FIR), knowing or believing it to be false, to harm another person is punishable under S.182 of the IPC, with a jail time of up to six months, or a fine, or both.

Such a person can also be held liable under S.211 of the Indian Penal Code, which states that if you bring false criminal accusations against someone to harm them, knowing that there is no just or legal ground for such accusations, you will be punished with jail time of up to two years, or fine, or both. So, if the criminal proceedings are instituted against an offence that is punishable by death, life imprisonment, or imprisonment of seven years or more,) the person who made the accusations is liable for jail time (up to 7 years and a fine).  

Quashing Of F.I.R: Power Of High Court Under S. 482 Cr.P.C.

Section 482 provides for the inherent powers of the High Court, to make any necessary orders, as are needed to prevent abuse of the court process. The High Court uses it for quashing FIRs. Quashing of an FIR has the effect of making an FIR non-existent. Recently in the case of Abhishek vs. State of MP (2023), the Supreme Court clarified that the High Court using its inherent power can quash an FIR, even if the charge sheet has already been filed before the trial court. 

Major grounds that can be considered for quashing an FIR are-

  1. When the allegations made in the FIR, even if taken as true at their face value, do not have the elements to make any case for an offence by the accused. 
  2.  If there is any express legal bar i.e. if it is prohibited by the Code of Criminal Procedure or other related laws with criminal provisions. 
  3. Where the allegations in the FIR and other related materials, do not actually indicate a cognizable offence.
  4.  Where undisputed facts in the FIR or the complaint and the evidence collected, do not show that any offence has been committed.
  5. Where a criminal proceeding is inherently mala fide, that is, where a proceeding is seen to be maliciously instituted with an ulterior motive to harm, defame or annoy the accused out of personal grudge. 
  6. Where the allegations made in the FIR or complaint are wildly absurd and inherently improbable, and hence, covers a scenario where the facts of acts mentioned in the FIR against the accused are insufficient in themselves, to proceed against the accused. 

The Supreme Court while discussing the power of quashing of an FIR in the landmark case of State of Haryana v Bhajan Lal 1992, cautioned the courts against its reckless usage. The power of quashing an FIR is to be used sparingly after due scrutiny with reasonable diligence. 

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