Guidelines for Quashing a F.I.R
By Ashutish Vasistha
On 3rd March, 2019 Supreme Court while adjudicating dispute between The State of Madhya Pradesh V. Laxmi Narayan and Others, issued guidelines to all the subordinate courts regarding not quashing an offence done by public servant merely on the ground that parties in the suit have compromised. The bench of Justices A.K. Sikri, Abdul Nazeer, and M.R. Shah held that gravity and seriousness of the offence committed by public servant must be taken into account while quashing the offence.
The quashing of offence and F.I.R. on the basis of sole criteria i.e. compromise between parties in all the cases is totally unjustifiable, as facts of all the cases differ and thus fixing of general principle for quashing will be against the fundamental doctrines of law. For criminal matters especially non-compoundable offences application of this criterion will be lethal which will lead to rampant exercise of this vitiate process.
Section 482 of Criminal Procedural Code empowers the courts to quash criminal proceedings against non compoundable offences, but it must be used with due diligence and looking into gravity of the offence. In this particular case the accused was a hard core criminal and several criminal matters have been registered against him, which was in itself sufficient to prove that quashing of the offence will somewhere lead to take advantage of loophole in our Codes. This procedure of quashing can be applied in commercial matters as compromise between the parties is the best and ultimate solution, but for criminal matters and that to for non-compoundable offences like attempt to murder, would be really derogatory to judicial process.
Non-compoundable offences by public servants are so rampant in the society and providing them relief just for compromising with the opposite party will promote them directly or indirectly in this heinousness. Apex court in its judgment focused on this issue only that whether compromise between the parties can be a sole ground for quashing the offence or not. The High Court of Madhya Pradesh quashed the F.I.R. on the sole ground of compromise between the parties, but the apex court struck down the impugned order of High Court and held that seriousness of the offence committed by accused must be taken into account while quashing it.
Offences like murder, rape, dacoity etc. should be immuned from quashing on this ground as they have serious impact on society and can give rise to social evils which are already not less in number. Accused must be properly investigated while quashing in case of compromise as he/she can abscond prosecution and the reason and willingness of the opposite party should also be clearly identified, because such hard core criminals are used to towards these kinds of situation and know every way possible to escape from it.
Application of this provision should be strictly forbid in the cases of child sexual abuse, corruption charges as they can really exploit the opposite party in the suit. Compromise can never take place in matters of corruption and sexual abuse of children done by public servants and, it can be either coercion or undue influence due to which party agrees to compromise in these matters. So, quashing of F.I.R. by the Honorable Courts in the matters which need special concern should be strictly forbid. Proper safety and precaution must be taken by the concerned authorities in these matters, and there should be no face to face contact of accused and victims, so that judiciary is able to solve its real purpose.
These kinds of steps must be taken by judiciary in order to ignite minds of the judges of lower courts who apply law before logic. These steps are very much required as our Codes are followed from 1900’s and require active as well as dynamic interpretation of judiciary. Laws must be applied with the changing needs of society and must be viewed with present and future angles only, as the orders will largely affect the future course of profession. So, exclusion of child sexual offences, rape cases, and corruption matters from this purview is very much needed in order to decrease the crime rates from our society. These types of offences are crimes against society and not against individuals, so court must take a broad view while quashing such orders and should analyze the future repercussions of such impugned judgments.
However, it is not like this that all the cases of attempt to murder don’t fall in the category of quashing, but there must be a fair and independent investigation in such matters and after finding sufficient grounds the court could quash the F.I.R. The point to consider while quashing is that the grounds must be fair, reasonable, and must be based on judicial principles. There must be presence of grounds other than compromise between the parties to quash the F.I.R. against the accused, as the sole ground to pass impugned order will be totally unjustifiable.
Such harsh steps must be taken by judiciary in order to decrease the crime rates, as in spite of having bulk of code and procedures why the crime rates are not decreasing in India, the answer is, these loopholes which gives unfair advantages to the accused to heinous and serious crimes towards humanity gives courage to the offenders. There is obviously something wrong in the implementation of these laws, otherwise we must have seen some much required efficient changes in our society.
Although Supreme Court had through this judgment closed all the confusion regarding quashing of a F.I.R. in non-compoundable matters. Now it is well established that no offence of public servant will be quashed on the sole ground of compromise between parties, and now it must be accompanied with other well investigated grounds. Also, this kind of relief to accused will not be given in matters of corruption, sexual offences, and other heinous crimes towards society. This approach must be followed by all other subordinate courts so that this profession is able to solve its real purpose.
 Criminal Appeal No. 349 of 2019