False FIRs Becoming A Trend : Punjab and Haryana HC

                      While displaying absolute zero tolerance for the increasing most dangerous, despicable, dastardly and derisive trend seen so commonly and frequently at the drop of a hat these days of filing false, frivolous and fictitious FIRs to just satisfy one’s false ego and settle personal scores by blatantly making a complete mockery of the ‘rule of law’, the Punjab and Haryana High Court in a most learned, laudable, landmark and latest oral judgment titled Varun Bagga vs State of Punjab & Another in CRM-M-16236-2022 that was pronounced as recently as on February 21, 2023 noted how it has become a common practice to abuse the legal system by filing fictitious FIRs in order to please one’s ego, which ultimately results in the wastage of the taxpayer funds because of the false FIR that were filed by the complainant. We must definitely note here that the High Court ordered the complainant, who first slapped the petitioner in full public place and not stopping here then just to suffice her ego stooped so low to such an abysmal level to the extent of lodging FIR and then compromised the matter to pay a very hefty cost of Rs. 1,00,000/- within a month. Of course, it definitely merits no reiteration that all the courts in India must definitely without fail undoubtedly emulate fully, firmly and finally the most laudable step taken by the Punjab and Haryana High Court in this leading case so that the simple, straightforward and strict message percolates all across the nation that those who lodge false FIR will have to pay through their nose if they dare to ever indulge in the same.

                           At the very outset, this extremely commendable, courageous, cogent and creditworthy oral judgment authored by the Single Judge Bench comprising of Hon’ble Mr Justice Alok Jain sets the ball in motion by first and foremost putting forth in the opening para that, “The instant petition has been filed under Section 482 Cr.P.C. seeking quashing of FIR No. 71 dated 30.03.2022, registered under Sections 323 and 354 of Indian Penal Code, 1860, at Police Station Sarabha Nagar, District Police Commissionerate Ludhiana(Annexure P-1) and all consequential proceedings arising therefrom, on the basis of compromise by way of an affidavit dated 02.04.2022 (Annexure P-2).”     

                  To put things in perspective, the Bench envisages in the next para of this notable judgment that, “Keeping in view the fact that the parties entered into a compromise, this Court vide order dated 21.04.2022 directed the parties to appear before the Illaqa Magistrate/trial Court for getting their statements recorded in that regard. Pursuant thereto, a report dated 17.05.2022 has been received from the Chief Judicial Magistrate, Ludhiana, stating that the compromise arrived at between the parties is voluntary and the same is without any pressure, coercion or undue influence. As per the report, it transpires that the petitioner is involved in four other cases in which three FIRs all under Section 188 IPC and the one FIR is under Section 68/1/14 of Essential Commodity Act. Learned counsel for the petitioner, at this stage, has submitted that the petitioner is running a Restaurant-cum-Bar and those FIRs are on that account.”

                        As we see, the Bench then observes in the next para of this refreshing judgment that, “Learned State Counsel and learned counsel appearing on behalf of respondent No.2-complainant admit the factum of compromise and submit that they have no objection to quashing of the FIR on that basis.”

                     As it turned out, the Bench then states aptly in the next para of this robust judgment that, “Perusal of the aforesaid report establishes that the parties have amicably settled their dispute, and continuance of criminal prosecution in such a situation will be an exercise in futility, as the chances of ultimate conviction are bleak. The power under Section 482 Cr.P.C. can be exercised in such matters. It has been held by Supreme Court of India in cases Gian Singh v. State of Punjab and another 2012(10) SCC 303 and Narinder Singh and others v. State of Punjab and another 2014(6) SCC 406 that criminal cases having overwhelmingly civil character, particularly those arising out of commercial transactions or matrimonial relationships or family disputes, should be quashed when the parties have resolved their disputes among themselves in a bona fide manner.”

                   Most tellingly, the Bench then pulls back no punches to say most directly in the next para of this convincing judgment that, “In fact, the present petition demonstrates that how the process of law is abused just for the whims and fancies of the person like the complainant, who first slapped the petitioner in full public place and then just to suffice her ego, lodged the present FIR and then has compromised the matter.”

             Most significantly and also most forthrightly, the Bench then minces just no words in taking potshots at the most condemnable manner in which lodging of false FIR is used as a potent weapon to harass, humiliate and harangue other person without any fear propounding in the next para of this noteworthy judgment that, “It has been noticed that it has become a trend to misuse and abuse the process of law by lodging false FIRs like in the present case just to satisfy one’s own ego. It is a fit case where appropriate action under law by invoking the provisions of Indian Penal Code, 1860, Code of Criminal Procedure, 1973 and other related provisions against complaint deserves to be invoked so that such kind of false, frivolous and manipulated FIRs are not registered, which ultimately lead to wastage of time of the State Machinery, which is thrown into action. Ultimately, it is the tax payer money which has been wasted on account of the false FIR lodged by the complainant.”

                      Most remarkably, it cannot be glossed over that the Bench then mandates in the next para of this wonderful judgment holding most decisively that, “Although, the Court was of the view to take strict action against the complainant, however, taking a lenient view and by issuing a word of caution, coupled with imposition of heavy cost, this present petition is allowed. FIR No. 71 dated 30.03.2022, registered under Sections 323 and 354 of Indian Penal Code, 1860, at Police Station Sarabha Nagar, District Police Commissionerate Ludhiana (Annexure P-1) and all consequential proceedings arising therefrom, are hereby quashed qua the petitioner, however, the complainant/respondent no.2 is imposed with the cost of Rs. 1,00,000/- to be paid within one month from today in the following account:-

Account Name – Punjab and Haryana High Court Bar Association Lawyer’s Family Welfare Fund.

Account No. – 41564846387

Bank Name – SBI High Court Branch.”

                            Last but not the least, the Bench then finally concludes by directing in the last para of this brief, brilliant, bold and balanced judgment that, “Put up on 27.03.2023 for compliance.”

               All said and done, it definitely merits no reiteration of any kind that the Punjab and Haryana High Court has taken a very reasonable, righteous and robust approach in displaying complete zero tolerance for those who dare to lodge false FIR under the false delusion that they would get away very easily without being held accountable by anyone in any manner and the person against whom false FIR is lodged would suffer endlessly without committing any fault or wrong or crime and land up even in prison which cannot be justified under any circumstances! It merits no underscoring that this has to be nipped in the bud which can be made possible only if all the Courts rule just like the Punjab and Haryana High Court has held so very briefly, brilliantly and boldly taking a most balanced approach in this leading case. There can be just no denying it!

Sanjeev Sirohi

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