Black's law dictionary defines quash as to overthrow / to abate / to vacate /
to annul / to make void. In simplest terms, quashing of criminal proceedings
would mean ceasing the legal machinery which had been set in motion. This is
usually done after a First Information Report (hereinafter referred to as FIR)
is filed, before the chargesheet-filing stage. Still, proceedings can be revoked
even after the chargesheet has been filed but that is usually discouraged by the
2) Legal Provisions In India For Quashing Of Criminal Proceedings
Code of Criminal Procedure (hereinafter referred to as Code/CrPC), 1973 has laid
out the provisions for quashing of criminal proceedings.
Section 482 o CrPC says,
"Saving of inherent powers of High Court Nothing 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."
The decisions of High Courts in this regard, ought to be guided by following
twin objectives, as laid down in Narinder Singh v. State of Punjab (2014) 6 SCC
Prevent abuse of the process of court.
Secure the ends of justice.
3) Rules Governing The Petitions Which Pray For Quashing of Criminal
Section 482 of CrPC, which deals with the power of court to quash criminal
proceedings, hasnt given the details of that what exactly constitutes the
inherent power of court. In that sense, the Code is very vague as it doesnt lay
out the grounds on which the foundations of the inherent power of court lay.
Furthermore, there has been consistent inconsistency in the judgments of the
Supreme Court of India with regard to the application of Section 482 of CrPC.
Consequently, the application of section 482 of CrPC is a very agitated issue in
litigation along with being a strongly debated concept in the legal academic
Nevertheless, there are some cases which have got wide acceptance in the legal
fraternity and hence, are used as the minor guiding principles (landmark cases
being the major ones) governing the cases of quashing of criminal proceedings.
Some of these cases are: Prashant Bharti v. State of NCT of Delhi (2013) 9 SCC 293:
In order to determine the veracity of a prayer for quashing the criminal
proceedings raised by an accused under Section 482 of the CrPC, the following
questions have to be analyzed by the High Court:
Whether the material relied upon by the accused is sound, reasonable,
and indubitable, i.e., the material is of sterling and impeccable quality?
Whether the material relied upon by the accused is sufficient to reject
and overrule the factual assertions contained in the complaint, i.e., the
material is such, as would persuade a reasonable person to dismiss and
condemn the factual basis of the accusations as false?
Whether the material relied upon by the accused, has not been refuted by
the prosecution / complainant; and / or the material is such, that it cannot
be justifiably refuted by the prosecution / complainant?
Whether proceeding with the trial would result in an abuse of process of
the court and hence, would not serve the ends of justice?
If the answer to all the questions is in affirmative, the Court should quash the
proceedings by exercising its power under Section 482 of CrPC. Parbatbhai Ahir v. State of Gujarat (4 Oct, 2017):
In this case, the Supreme Court referred to various precedents and summarised
the following principles which ought to govern the power of High Court under
Section 482 of CrPC,
Section 482preserves the inherent powers of the High Court 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 inhere in the High Court.
The invocation of the jurisdiction of the High Court to quash a First
Information Report 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 320of the Code of Criminal Procedure, 1973. The power to
quash under Section 482 is attracted even if the offence is non-compoundable.
In forming an opinion whether a criminal proceeding or complaint should
be quashed in exercise of its jurisdiction underSection 482,
the High Court must evaluate whether the ends of justice would justify the
exercise of the inherent power.
While the inherent power of the High Court has a wide ambit and
plenitude it has to be exercised;
a) To secure the ends of justice.
b) To prevent an abuse of the 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
and no exhaustive elaboration of principles can be formulated.
In the exercise of the power under ction 482 and while
dealing with a plea that the dispute has been settled, 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. 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.
As distinguished from serious offences, there may be criminal cases
which have an overwhelming or predominant element of a civil dispute. They
stand on a distinct footing in so far as the exercise of the inherent power
to quash is concerned.
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.
In such a case, the High Court may quash the criminal proceeding if in
view of the compromise between the disputants, the possibility of aconviction is remote and the continuation of a criminal proceeding would
cause oppression and prejudice; and.
There is yet an exception to the principle set out in propositions
(viii) and above. 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 High Court 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."
4) Quashing of criminal proceedings in
Section 498 - A was brought in by the Indian legislature to help the hapless
women who were worst victims of their husbands ire. But, of late, there have
been innumerable instances of misuse of Section 498 - A. The situation has
become so severe that there are dedicated non-government organizations (NGOs)
which solely focus on advocating the repeal of Section 498. Also, there have
been numerous instances in India, where the courts have criticised the
provisions of Section 498 A, decried its use, and prodded the legislature to
have a look at the issue.
For instance, the Supreme Court of India observed in
the case of Sushil Kumar Sharma v. Union of India (19 July, 2005), The object
of the provision is prevention of the dowry menace. But as has been rightly
contended by the petitioner many instances have come to light where the
complaints are not bona fide and have filed the cases with oblique motive. In
such cases acquittal of the accused does not in all cases wipe out the ignomy
suffered during and prior to trial. Sometimes adverse media coverage adds to the
The Supreme Court of India has, many a times, held that the proceedings being
pursued under Section 498 - A of IPC ought to be quashed if the chances of
conviction are very bleak or the case has been filed with ulterior motives (in
most cases, the ulterior motive is to settle personal scores).
In B S Joshi v. State of Haryana 2003 (4) SCC 675, the Supreme Court justified
the exercise of powers under Section 482 CrPC to quash the proceedings in
matrimonial cases to secure the ends of justice in view of the special facts and
circumstances of the case even where the offences alleged are non-compoundable.
This very judgment was used by the Delhi High Court to quash criminal
proceedings which had been initiated under Section 498 - A of the Indian Penal
Code (hereinafter referred to as IPC), in the case of Girish Pandey v. State (20
Furthermore, it has been held in the case of Geeta Mehrotra v. State of Uttar
Pradesh (17 Oct, 2012)by the Supreme Court of India that making general
allegations against husband without any conclusive proof is ground enough to
quash criminal proceedings instituted under Section 498- A of IPC.
5) Landmark cases related to abatement of criminal
Despite all the contradictions that appear in the various judgments of the
supreme Court with respect to quashing of criminal proceedings, there are
following two cases which are considered string authorities on the subject:
In the case of State of Haryana v. Bhajan Lal 1992 AIR 604, the Supreme Court
had laid down following seven categories of cases in which the court can quash
Where the allegations made in the FIR, even if taken at face value and
accepted in their entirety, do not prima facie constitute any offence or
make out a case against the accused.
Where the allegations in the FIR and other materials, if any,
accompanying the FIR do not disclose a cognizable offence, justifying an
investigation by police officers under Section 156(1)of the Code except
under an order of a Magistrate within the purview ofSection 155(2) of the Code.
Where the allegations made in the FIR and the evidence collected in
support of the same do not disclose the commission of any offence and make
out a case against the accused.
Where the allegations in the FIR do not constitute a cognizable offence
but constitute only a non-cognizable offence, no investigation is permitted
by a police officer, unless a Magistrate has issued an order for the same,
as contemplated under Section 155(2)of the Code.
Where the allegations made in the FIR are absurd to the extent that no
prudent man can ever reach a just conclusion that there is sufficient ground
for proceeding against the accused.
Where there is an express legal bar engrafted in any of the provisions f
the Code or the concerned Act, under which a criminal proceeding is
instituted, with regard to the institution and continuance of the
proceedings and / or where there is a specific provision inthe Codeor the concerned Act,
providing efficacious redress for the grievance of the aggrieved party.
Where a criminal proceeding is manifestly attended with mala
fide intention and/or where the proceeding is maliciously instituted with an
ulterior motive for wreaking vengeance on the accused and with a view to spite
him due to private and / or personal grudge.
In the case of R P Kapur v. State of Punjab 1960 AIR 862, the Supreme Court of
India held that criminal proceedings against a person can be quashed if the case
being dealt with belongs to any one of the following three classes of cases:
Where there is a legal bar against institution or continuance of the
Where the allegations in the FIR do not constitute an offence, even if
taken at face value and in their entirety.
Where the allegations made constitute an offence, but there is no
evidence which can prove them.