Powers Of High Courts Under Section 482 CrPC

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Section 482 of the Code of Criminal Procedure, 1973 is a pivotal provision that grants inherent powers to the High Courts and empowers them to exercise their jurisdiction to prevent abuse of the legal...
India Criminal Law
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Section 482 CrPC

Section 482 of the Code of Criminal Procedure, 1973 is a pivotal provision that grants inherent powers to the High Courts and empowers them to exercise their jurisdiction to prevent abuse of the legal process and to secure the ends of justice. Hence, this section is one of the most important provisions that helps ensure that the golden triangle of the Indian Constitution remains embedded in the judicial system by ensuring that the High Courts render complete justice.12

Brief History of Section 482 CrPC

The Hon'ble Supreme Court in the year of 1960 first witnessed the circumstances in which the inherent jurisdiction is exercised by the High Courts3-

  1. Where there was a legal bar against the institution or continuance of the proceedings;
  2. Where the allegations in the first information report or complaint did not make out the offence alleged; and
  3. Where either there was no legal evidence adduced in support of the charge or the evidence adduced clearly or manifestly failed to prove the charges.

In the year 1977 the Hon'ble Supreme Court modified the 3 broad categories that are still considered by the High Courts to decide whether to exercise their inherent powers4-

  1. To give effect to an order under Criminal Procedure.
  2. To prevent abuse of the process of the court.
  3. To secure the ends of justice.

Purpose of Section 482

  1. Preventing Abuse of Process and Securing the Ends of Justice: The High Courts have the power to intervene and prevent cases or complaints that are filed with mala-fide intentions or with the sole purpose of harassing someone. Further, the High Courts can also ensure that justice is not denied or delayed due to procedural issues.5
  2. Quashing Criminal Proceedings and Protection of Innocent Persons: The High Court can use its inherent powers under this section to quash criminal proceedings, including Complaints and First Information Reports and protect innocent persons who may be wrongly implicated in criminal cases in case there is no evidence to support the charges against an individual.6
  3. Setting Aside Illegal Orders: The inherent powers under Section 482 can also be used to set aside illegal orders passed by a court or a tribunal. The High Court may exercise these powers to set aside orders that are not sustainable in law, or orders that have been passed without jurisdiction or in violation of the principles of natural justice.7

The power of High Courts under Section 482 is discretionary, therefore, the high courts may refuse to exercise the discretion on a case-to-case basis.8

Quashing of FIR: Guidelines set out by the Hon'ble Supreme Court of India

In the landmark case of State of Haryana and Ors. vs Bhajan Lal and Ors.,9 the Hon'ble Supreme Court laid down the categories of cases where the inherent powers under Section 482 could be exercised for quashing of an FIR-

  1. When the allegations in the FIR or complaint, even if accepted at face value, do not constitute any offense, or make a case against the accused.
  2. When the allegations in the FIR and accompanying materials do not disclose a cognizable offense that justifies investigation by the police under Section 156(1) of the Criminal Procedure Code (CrPC) without an order from a Magistrate under Section 155(2) of the CrPC.
  3. When the allegations in the FIR and supporting evidence do not reveal the commission of any offense or make a case against the accused.
  4. When the allegations in the FIR do not constitute a cognizable offense but only a non-cognizable offense, in which case no investigation by a police officer is permitted without a Magistrate's order under Section 155(2) of the CrPC.
  5. When the allegations in the FIR or complaint are so absurd and inherently improbable that no reasonable person could conclude that there are sufficient grounds to proceed against the accused.
  6. When there is a specific legal provision in the CrPC or the relevant Act that bars the institution or continuation of criminal proceedings, or when there is an alternative legal remedy available to address the aggrieved party's grievance.
  7. When a criminal proceeding is clearly motivated by malice or ulterior motives, such as personal grudges, rather than a genuine pursuit of justice.

In a more recent case in the year of 2017, the Hon'ble Supreme Court referring to the Bhajan Lal Judgement laid down the guidelines to be followed by the High Courts under Section 482 which are summarised as follows10-

  1. Section 482 of the Code of Criminal Procedure does not grant new powers to the High Court but rather preserves its inherent powers to prevent abuse of court processes and ensure justice.
  2. Section 482 can be used to quash even non-compoundable offences.
  3. It is the duty of the High Court evaluate whether quashing a criminal proceeding serves the interests of justice.
  4. The inherent power of the High Court must be exercised:
    • To secure the ends of justice.
    • To prevent abuse of the process of any court.
  5. No principles can be formulated on whether a complaint or FIR should be quashed based on settlement of the dispute as it depends on the facts and circumstances of each case.
  6. Serious offences like murder, rape, and dacoity cannot be quashed, even if the victim and offender have settled, due to their impact on society.

Misuse of Section 482

  1. Misuse to Scuttle Investigation or Prosecution: Some accused individuals file petitions under Section 482 with the primary intention of delaying or obstructing the ongoing investigation or prosecution against them. They may seek to use this provision to halt the legal process, even if there are valid reasons for the investigation or prosecution.11
  2. Misuse to Bypass Statutory Remedies: Another misuse of Section 482 occurs when accused persons approach the High Court seeking the quashing of an FIR or charge sheet without first availing themselves of the statutory remedies available under the Criminal Procedure Code (CrPC), such as applying for anticipatory bail12 or regular bail.13
  3. Misuse to Seek Interim Stay on Proceedings: In some cases, individuals misuse Section 482 by requesting an interim stay on legal proceedings, particularly when they are unable to obtain such a stay from lower courts.

Conclusion

The Supreme Court has repeatedly cautioned that the inherent powers under Section 482 should be exercised sparingly and with great caution, and that the power should not be used as an alternative to the statutory remedies available to the parties. The court has also held that the inherent powers should not be used to interfere with the jurisdiction of the lower courts or to scuttle a fair investigation or prosecution. In conclusion, while the inherent powers under Section 482 of the CrPC are wide and discretionary, they must be exercised judiciously and with great caution.

Footnotes

1 Articles 14, 19, and 21 of the Indian Constitution

2 Code of Criminal Procedure (Amendment) Act of 1923

3 R. P. Kapur vs The State of Punjab, 1960 SCR (3) 311

4 State of Karnataka v. L. Muniswamy & Ors., (1977) 2 SCC 699

5 Madhu Limaye v. State of Maharashtra

6 State of Haryana and Ors. vs Bhajan Lal and Ors., 1990 SCR Supl. (3) 259

7 State of M.P. v. Awadh Kishore Gupta

8 Sandeep Singh vs State of NCT of Delhi & Anr., (CRL.M.C. 174/2021)

9 1990 SCR Supl. (3) 259

10 Parbatbhai Ahir vs. State of Gujarat (2017) 9 SCC 641

11 Hamida vs Rashid, (2008) 1 SCC 474

12 Section 438 of the Code of Criminal Procedure, 1973.

13 Section 436 of the Code of Criminal Procedure, 1973.

For further information please contact at S.S Rana & Co. email: info@ssrana.in or call at (+91- 11 4012 3000). Our website can be accessed at www.ssrana.in

The content of this article is intended to provide a general guide to the subject matter. Specialist advice should be sought about your specific circumstances.

Powers Of High Courts Under Section 482 CrPC

India Criminal Law

Contributor

S.S. Rana & Co. is a Full-Service Law Firm with an emphasis on IPR, having its corporate office in New Delhi and branch offices in Mumbai, Bangalore, Chennai, Chandigarh, and Kolkata. The Firm is dedicated to its vision of proactively assisting its Fortune 500 clients worldwide as well as grassroot innovators, with highest quality legal services.
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