Quashing Of FIR In Civil Disputes – Civil Law


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Whenever there is a commission of any offence, it can be
reported to a police officer in charge of the police station by any
aggrieved person. That report is known as First Information Report
(FIR). However, the term FIR is not defined but Section 154
of the Code of Criminal Procedure,
19731
 relates to FIR and states as
“information in cognizable cases”.

Reporting FIR have also become a tool of misuse since frivolous
FIRs are being filed against innocent persons if there exists a
malafide intention with an objective to harass them at the hands of
law. One such instance is where a criminal proceeding is
maliciously instituted with an ulterior motive for wreaking
vengeance on a person and with a view to spite him due to private
and personal grudge.

Fate of frivolous FIR in Civil Disputes

Thus, to tackle the menace the Hon’ble High Courts in India
can be approached by any aggrieved person against the frivolous FIR
filed against him. Petition under Section 482 of the
CrPC2
 can be filed at the Hon’ble High
Courts for quashing of the FIR where the Hon’ble High Courts
can exercise their inherent powers to secure the ends of justice
for the innocent. There have been instances when a civil dispute is
already pending for adjudication before the Hon’ble Courts, but
frivolous FIRs are being filed by one of the parties to initiate
criminal proceedings against the opposite one, solely to harass
them. However, the Supreme Court of India in catena of judgements
has ruled against the frivolous FIRs thereby quashing them in the
interest of justice.

Judicial Trends

  • The Hon’ble Supreme Court of India vide its judgements
    Hira Lal Hari Lal Bhagwati v.
    C.B.I.3
     dated May 2, 2003 and Y.
    Jose v. State of Gujarat4
     dated December
    16, 2008 held that for establishing the offence of cheating, the
    complainant is required to show in the FIR that the accused had
    fraudulent or dishonest intention at the time of making promise of
    representation, and from his making failure to keep up promise
    subsequently, such a culpable intention right at the beginning that
    is at the time when the promise was made cannot be presumed.

  • The Hon’ble Supreme Court of India in its judgement
    Vesa Holdings P. Ltd. v. State of
    Kerala5
     dated March 17, 2015 observed that
    every breach of contract would not give rise to an offence of
    cheating and only in those cases breach of contract would amount to
    cheating where there was any deception played at the very
    inception. The Apex Court further observed that if the intention to
    cheat has developed later on, the same cannot amount to cheating as
    for the purpose of constituting an offence of cheating,
    the complainant is required to show that the accused had
    fraudulent or dishonest intention at the time of making promise or
    representation. Even in a case where allegations are made in regard
    to failure on the part of the accused to keep his promise, in the
    absence of a culpable intention at the time of making initial
    promise being absent, no offence under Section 420 of the Indian
    Penal Code, 1860 can be made out. Thus, criminal proceedings shall
    not be encouraged when it is found to be malafide or otherwise an
    abuse of the process of the court.

  • The Hon’ble Supreme Court of India in its judgement
    Sushil Sethi v. The State of Arunachal
    Pradesh6
     dated January 31, 2020 observed
    that when a dispute between the parties constitute only a civil
    wrong and not a criminal wrong, courts would not permit a person to
    be harassed although no case for taking cognizance of the offence
    has been made out. Brief facts of this case are that an FIR under
    Section 420 of the Indian Penal Code, 18607 was
    filed against the Managing Director and the Director of a company
    which it entered into a contract with Government of Arunachal
    Pradesh for construction, supply and commissioning of a Power
    Project. There was some dispute with respect to the payment of
    maintenance and thereafter the complainant was filed alleging
    inferior quality materials in contravention with the contract. The
    Apex Court observed that there was no FIR/complaint/chargesheet
    filed against the company, and the employees were rather arrayed as
    accused. The Apex Court held that from a bare reading of the FIR,
    there were no allegations that there was a fraudulent and dishonest
    intention to cheat the government from the very beginning of the
    transaction, and even there were no specific allegations in the FIR
    that the said employees were in-charge of administration and
    management of the company making them vicariously liable. Thus, the
    FIR filed against the accused were quashed under Section
    482 of the Code of Criminal Procedure,
    19738
    .

Conclusion

Thus, where a criminal proceeding is maliciously instituted with
an ulterior motive for wreaking vengeance on a person when a civil
remedy lies within the law, the FIR can be quashed under Section
482 of the Code of Criminal Procedure, 1973 by the Hon’ble High
Courts while exercising their inherent powers to prevent abuse of
the process of law to secure the ends of justice.

Karanveer Singh, Associate at S.S. Rana & Co. has
assisted in the research of this article.

Footnotes

1. 154 of CrPC. Information in cognizable
cases.

2. 482 of CrPC. Saving of inherent power of High
Court.

3. AIR 2003 SC 2545

4. (2009) 3 SCC 78

5. (2015) 8 SCC 293

6. AIR 2020 SC 765

7. 420 of IPC. Cheating and dishonestly inducing
delivery of property.

8. 482. Saving of inherent powers of High
Court.

For further information please contact at S.S Rana &
Co. email: [email protected] or
call at (+91- 11 4012 3000). Our website can be accessed at
www.ssrana.in

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