Supreme Court on High Court’s Power to Quash FIR


November 22, 2017

Chirag M. Pathak vs Dollyben Kantilal Patel

November 15, 2017

In this recent verdict the Supreme Court has shed light on the High Court’s inherent power to quash FIR under Section 482 of CrPC. The Court also enumerates the circumstances under which High Court quash FIR and expounds on restricted interference of Court in Police investigation.

Factual Matrix in the case- In the case, the Appellants are members of Societies and were aggrieved of alleged several illegal activities being committed by the Respondents in the affairs of the Societies and, particularly, those committed in relation to sale of the lands belonging to the Societies, siphoning off the funds of the Societies, falsification of the accounts of the Societies etc.

Aggrieved by the aforesaid, the appellants registered Six FIRs in different Police Stations in the State of Gujarat against six different Co-Operative Housing Societies for commission of various offences alleged to have been committed by the President, Office Bearers and other persons of the six Societies.

Subsequently, the Respondents felt aggrieved by the registration of five FIRs which had implicated them for commission of several offences and filed Criminal Applications under Section 482 of CrPC in the High Court of Gujarat and sought quashing of the above-mentioned five FIRs. The Respondents challenged the FIRs on the ground that the filing of the first FIR takes care of remaining five FIRs and, therefore, the remaining five FIRs and should not have been registered inasmuch as the five FIRs are nothing but repetition of the first FIR and hence all the five FIRs deserve to be quashed.

The High Court allowed Criminal Applications and quashed the five FIRs and observed that investigation carried out pursuant to the second FIRs, shall be treated as part of the investigation carried out in respect of the 1st FIR. Aggrieved by the High Court’s order, the Appellants approached the Supreme Court.

Bench’s Verdict

The Supreme Court Bench set aside the High Court’s order and made following observations in the case:

  1. That all the six Co-Operative Societies against whom the afore-mentioned FIRs were registered were different, their members were different, their area of operation were different, the lands which were sold/transferred are also situated in different areas etc. Thus, it is not possible to hold that all the FIRs are overlapping on one another and that first FIR alone will be sufficient to take care of the remaining five FIRs.
  2. That the High Court, in exercise of its powers under Section 482 of CrPC, cannot undertake a detailed examination of the facts contained in the FIRs by acting as an Appellate Court and draws its own conclusion.
  3. When can a High Court in exercise of its power under Section 482 of CrPC quash FIR- In this context the Supreme Court enumerated the following circumstances in which FIR can be quashed by the High Court:
  • When on reading the FIR, a sheer absurdity in the allegations is noticed and when no prima facie cognizable case is made out on its mere reading due to absurdity in the allegations;
  • When facts disclose prima facie cognizable case and also disclose remarkable identity between the two FIRs as if the first FIR is filed second time with no change in allegations;
  1. Court’s interference with investigation under Section 157 of CrPC– In this context the Court made reference to the case of State of West Bengal & Ors. vs Swapan Kumar Guha & Ors.[1], to opine that if on a consideration of the relevant materials, the Court is satisfied that an offence is disclosed, the Court will normally not interfere with the investigation into the offence. It is wrong to suppose that the police have an unfettered discretion to commence investigation under Section 157 of CrPC. Their right of inquiry is conditioned by the existence of reason to suspect the commission of a cognizable offence and they cannot, reasonably, have reason so to suspect unless the F.I.R., prima facie, discloses the commission of such offence. If that condition is satisfied, the investigation must go on. The Court has then no power to stop the investigation, for to do so would be to trench upon the lawful power of the police to investigate into cognizable offences.”

[1] 1982 AIR 949