Quashing of Criminal Proceedings

Following from my post yesterday on the Death Penalty in India, I thought I’d take a look at another important and often misused provision in Indian criminal law, which is the quashing of criminal proceedings. A basic concept, but an undoubtedly important one, the power of the Court to quash impending criminal proceedings has been much scope.

Section 482 of the Cr.P.C. provides that

 “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 this Code, or to prevent abuse of the process of any court or otherwise to secure the ends of justice.”

The Court, in exercise of such power must be satisfied that:

(i) An order passed under the Code would be rendered ineffective; or

(ii) The process of any court would be abused; or

(iii) The ends of justice would not be secured. (See http://ipc498a.files.wordpress.com/2007/10/understanding-section-482-high-court-quash-petitions.pdf)

The Supreme Court laid down during an  appeal in the  2005 case,  State of Maharashtra v. Arun Gulab Gawali, that ‘the power of quashing criminal proceedings has to be exercised sparingly and with circumspection, and in the rarest of rare cases’

In B.S. Joshi & Ors. Vs. State of Haryana & Anr. (AIR 2003 SC 1386), the Court held that intrinsic power must be utilised with the singular purpose of preventing the abuse of the process of the court or to otherwise serve the ends of justice. In exercise of inherent powers, accurate scrutiny of facts and circumstances of the case concerned are completely essential. 

The Courts have been given innate powers to check the abuse of the process of Court where the Court finds that by quashing the proceedings the ends of justice are better served. In such cases, proceedings may be quashed as the end of realising justice is greater than the end of adhering to legal sanction and provisions.

In the landmark case of State of Haryana v. Bhajan Lal laid down guidelines to be followed by the High Courts in exercise of their inherent powers to quash a criminal complaint. (See http://mynation.net/docs/quashing-of-fir/ for the list of guidelines and a comprehensive discussion on quashing of criminal proceedings).