Criminal proceeding against persons making baseless FIRs

The Indian Penal Code, 1860 (IPC) also provides for criminal prosecution against persons making baseless complaints leading to the registration of a First Information Report (FIR) by the police. Section 182 of the IPC provides for punitive measures against a person who makes baseless complaints by making false representations to a public servant. Section 182 of the IPC serves as a basis for punishing a person by imprisonment up to six months and/or a fine for giving a public servant any information which he knows or believes to be false or knowing it to be likely that he will thereby cause such public servant (i) to do or omit to do anything which such public servant ought not to do, or (ii) to use the lawful power of such public servant to the injury or annoyance of any person

The Calcutta high court in Pasupati Banerji vs. King [AIR 1950 Cal 97] has observed that in order to attract the provisions of section 182 of the IPC, it must be established that the person gave information to a public servant which he knew or believed to be false and that he intended thereby to cause the public servant to use his lawful power to the injury or annoyance of any person.

It was further observed by the Punjab and Haryana high court in Sukhdeo Singh vs. State [63 Punj L. R. 566] that to constitute an offence under section 182 of the IPC, it is necessary that the information given should be such information which the accused knows or believes to be false. It is not sufficient that the person had reasons to believe it was false or that he did not believe it to be true; what is necessary that the person must have positive knowledge or belief that it was false.

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A reference may also be made to section 211 of the IPC, which is analogous to section 182 of the IPC. Section 211 of the IPC serves as basis to punish a person who with the intent to cause injury (i) institutes or causes to be instituted any criminal proceeding against that person or (ii) falsely charges any person with having committed an offence, knowing that there is no just or lawful ground for such proceeding or charge. Section 211 of the IPC provides for imprisonment for up to two years and/or a fine for the commission of an offence under the section. Further, section 211 of the IPC provides imprisonment for up to seven years and a fine for initiating criminal proceedings on a false charge for an offence punishable with death, imprisonment for life or imprisonment for up to seven years or more.

In Maiz vs. Rosen [(1966) 1 W.L.R 1008], it was observed that if a person goes to the police with an account which he knows to be untrue, not only has he no reasonable or possible ground for the prosecution but also that fact in itself would be strong evidence of the ingredient of malice necessary for a successful action for malicious prosecution.

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