FIR Cancellation in Civil Litigation – Civil Law

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Whenever an offense is committed, it can be reported to a police officer in charge of the police station by any aggrieved person. This report is known as the First Information Report (FIR). However, the term FIR is not defined but Section 154 of the Code of Criminal Procedure, 19731 relates to the FIR and indicates as “information in known cases”.

Reporting of FIRs has also become a tool of abuse as frivolous FIRs are filed against innocent people if there is dishonest intent to harass them at the hands of the law. Such a case is when a criminal proceeding is maliciously initiated with an ulterior motive to revenge against a person and with a view to antagonizing him due to a private and personal grudge.

Fate of frivolous FIR in civil disputes

So, to deal with the threat, the honorable high courts in India can be approached by any aggrieved person against the frivolous FIR filed against him. Petition under Article 482 of the CrPC2 may be filed with the Hon’ble High Courts for annulment of the FIR where the Hon’ble High Courts may exercise their inherent powers to secure the ends of justice for the innocent. There have been cases where a civil dispute is already pending in the Hon’ble Courts, but frivolous FIRs are filed by one party to bring criminal charges against the other, only to harass them. However, the Supreme Court of India in a series of judgments ruled against frivolous FIRs, thus nullifying them in the interests of justice.

Judicial trends

  • The Honorable Supreme Court of India renders its judgments
    Hira Lal Hari Lal Bhagwati vs. CBI3 dated May 2, 2003 and Y.Jose v. Gujarat State4 dated December 16, 2008 held that to establish the offense of cheating, the plaintiff is required to demonstrate in the FIR that the accused had fraudulent or dishonest intent in making the promise of representation, and his failure to keep his promise afterwards, such a guilty intention from the beginning, i.e. at the time when the promise was made, cannot be presumed.

  • The Honorable Supreme Court of India in its Judgment
    Vesa Holdings P.Ltd. vs. state of kerala5 dated March 17, 2015 observed that not every breach of contract would give rise to an offense of cheating and that in those only cases breach of contract would amount to cheating where a cheating had been played from the outset. The Apex Court further observed that if the intention to cheat subsequently developed, this cannot be equated to cheating because, in order to constitute an offense of cheating, the plaintiff is required to show that the accused had fraudulent or dishonest intent at the time. to make a promise or representation. Even in a case where allegations are made of the accused’s failure to keep his promise, in the absence of guilty intent at the time of the initial promise, no offense under section 420 of the Indian Penal Code, 1860 can be established. Thus, criminal prosecutions should not be encouraged when they prove to be in bad faith or otherwise an abuse of the legal process.

  • The Honorable Supreme Court of India in its Judgment
    Sushil Sethi vs Arunachal Pradesh State6 as of January 31, 2020 found that where a dispute between the parties is only civil fault and not criminal fault, the courts would not allow a person to be harassed although no case of knowledge of the offense has been established. The brief facts of this case are that an FIR under Section 420 of the Indian Penal Code, 18607 was filed against the managing director and director of a company which entered into a contract with the government of Arunachal Pradesh for the construction, supply and commissioning of a power project. There was a dispute over the payment of child support and subsequently the plaintiff was filed alleging substandard materials in breach of contract. The Apex court observed that no FIR/complaint/indictment had been filed against the company and instead the employees were charged. The Apex Court found that from a simple reading of the FIR, there was no allegation that there was a fraudulent and dishonest intent to deceive the government from the outset of the transaction, and even there was no There was no specific allegation in the FIR that said employees were responsible for the administration and management of the business, making them vicariously liable. Thus, the FIRs filed against the accused were quashed under Section 482 of the Code of Criminal Procedure, 19738.


Thus, where a criminal prosecution is maliciously brought with an ulterior motive to exact revenge against a person while a civil remedy is in accordance with the law, the FIR can be canceled under article 482 of the Code of Criminal Proceedings 1973 by the Honorable High Courts in the exercise of their inherent powers to prevent the abuse of the process of law to secure the ends of justice.

Karanveer Singh, Partner at SS Rana & Co. assisted in researching this article.


1.154 of CrPC. Information in knowable cases.

2.482 of CrPC. Safeguarding the inherent power of the High Court.

3.AIR 2003 SC 2545

4. (2009) 3 SCC 78

5. (2015) 8 SCC 293

6.AIR 2020 SC 765

7.420 of the IPC. Cheating and dishonest inducement to deliver goods.

8. 482. Safeguard of the inherent powers of the High Court.

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The content of this article is intended to provide a general guide on the subject. Specialist advice should be sought regarding your particular situation.

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