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Can High Courts Quash an FIR?

Its inherent powers under Sec 482 and case study:

Rupan Deol Bajaj V KPS Gill and other relevant case laws (State of Punjab V. Major Singh, Veeda Menezes v. Yusuf Khan)

Introduction: Inherent powers of High Court to quash the FIR

Section 482 is under chapter 37 of CrPC, 1973 which is titled, Miscellaneous and it deals with the inherent powers of the court. This law gives wide powers to the high courts to quash an FIR, criminal proceedings or investigation with an aim to meet the ends of justice and prevent abuse of legal proceedings.

According to the Black's law dictionary, quash means to overthrow or abate or vacate or make void. Therefore to quash a criminal proceeding means to put an end to that legal machinery which was set into motion by filing of an FIR or a complaint.

First Information Report

FIR is a written document that is prepared by the police on receiving information about the commission of a cognizable offence. This is the first time the information of such a crime that reaches the police, on which a report is made, that is why is it is called the First Information Report.

When High Court can quash an FIR?

The Honorable High courts in India have wide powers under section 482 of CrPC. The high court under section 482 can quash an FIR even after the filing of the charge sheet by the prosecution. The accused can reason that there is no material evidence against him or that there is inherent improbability of the entire facts and materials collected against him in the charge sheet.

Other factors on which the court can quash an FIR is based on compromises between parties. Like matrimonial cases or others. That is also possible between parties on a financial dispute, when parties resort to a compromise deed.

In the instance when the matter has been resolved or compromised amicably, the Hon'ble High court must understand the gravity of the case to decide on the quashing of the FIR. The court should not quash FIRs when the matter has an overriding principle of Public Interest' for example in cases of rape, murder, dacoit, etc..(10 points for quashing FIR by Honorable Supreme Court of India in Parbatbhai Aahir & Ors. Vs. State of Gujarat & Anr. [Criminal Appeal No. 1723 of 2017])

Case Law:
Rupan Deol Bajaj v. KPS Gill, AIR 1996 SC 309

This is a high profile case and is famously called as The Butt Slapping Case. This case is highly criticized because a punishment of rigorous imprisonment for 3 months for outraging the modesty of a woman by an important person, like the Director General of Police, KPS Gill was turned into a comfortable' probation in the Supreme Court.

Facts in brief
Rupan Deol Bajaj was an IAS officer of Punjab Cadre. She loges an FIR against the Director General of Police Mr. KPS Gill under sections- 341, 342, 352, 354, and 509 of the Indian Penal Code 

On the night of July 18, 1988, at 10 pm at a dinner party, the accused, KPS Gill walked across a group of ladies and called the victim, Rupan Deol Bajaj to sit next to him since he wanted to talk to her. When she approached the chair next to him, he pulled the chair very close to his chair. Mrs. Bajaj did not say anything but pulled the chair away and again tried to sit. But Mr. Gill pulled the chair again. Realizing a vile intentions of Mr. Gill, Mrs. Bajaj went back to the ladies circle.

Mr. Gill came back after 10 minutes and ordered in an obnoxious manner to get up immediately and come along. She resisted and turned back and started leaving, when he slapped her posterior in front of all the guests of the dinner party.

Issues
The issue is whether the allegations constitute any of the offences mentioned under section 341, 342, 352, 354, and 509 of the Indian Penal Code
  • Whether a prima facie case is present that can go to trial.
  • Whether the High Court was justified in quashing the complaint and FIR against Mr. Gill.

Judgement

In year 1988, Punjab and Haryana High Court booked KPS Gill guilty of outraging the modesty of women and using act, word, gesture intended to insult a lady, under section 354 and 509 of IPC respectively. He was sentenced to a rigorous imprisonment for 3 months and a fine of Rs. 2 Lakhs. On an appeal, the Supreme Court turned the punishment into a comfortable probation. Although the Supreme

Court accepted that slapping a woman on the posterior amounted to outraging of her modesty.

Relevant case laws
State of Punjab V. Major Singh, AIR 1967 SC 63
While deciding whether the allegations made by Mrs. Bajaj constitute outrage of modesty of a women , the division bench considered the judgment given in State of Punjab v. Major Singh, where it held that when an act that is done is suggestive of sex according to common notions of mankind would fall under the sec. 354. As per other judge, the essence of a women's modesty is her sex and she possesses that modesty since her birth, which is the attribute of her sex.

For the modesty to be outraged there are two main ingredients present which are as follows:
  • First the act itself and
  • Second, the culpable intentions
It was finally held that Mr. Gill had culpable intention.

Veeda Menezes v. Yusuf Khan

In this case the Supreme Court held that an assault cannot be trivialized by calling it accidental or unintentional if the harm is caused by doing an act with intent to cause harm or with knowledge that harm may be caused.

The High court quashed the complaint on Mr. Gill before the Chief Judicial magistrate under section 95 on the reason that it was a trivial offence and not worthy of any prosecution.

Conclusion
The High Court can quash an FIR, criminal proceedings or investigation with an aim to ensure justice and prevent abuse of legal proceedings (but it is exercised only when no other remedy is available to the litigant and not where a specific remedy is provided by a statute.)

Mrs. Baja had filed an FIR but no investigation took place. She had to approach the Judicial Magistrate who ordered investigation. Besides this Mr. Gill approached the High court.

The High court quashed the complaint on Mr. Gill before the Chief Judicial magistrate under section 95 on the reason that it was a trivial offence and not worthy of any prosecution. But in was not justified in the Veeda Menezes v. Yusuf Khan case where the court said an assault cannot be trivialized if the harm is caused by doing an act with intent to cause harm or with knowledge that harm may be caused.

The Supreme Court ruled that the offence of outraging the modesty of a women (Mrs. Bajaj) was indeed committed under sec 354 and 509 of IPC.

It is established by State of Punjab v. Major Singh that any act committed on a women which is suggestive of sex would fall under the definition of outraging her modesty. For the modesty to be outraged there are two main ingredients present which are first the act itself and second, the culpable intentions. The act of slapping a woman on the posterior amounts to outraging of her modesty and it includes both these ingredients. The main ingredient of Sec. 354 of IPC is culpable intention' was said to be possessed by Mr. Gill.

Written By: Chetna Garg - A Law Student from KES Shri Jayantilal H Patel Law College, Mumbai
Email- [email protected], twitter- @LawgicallyCorrect

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