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Concept of Framing of Charge Under Cr.P.C

FRAMING OF CHARGES

To proceed with the trial of a case, the framing of charges must be done accurately to avoid delay and misuse of power. Framing of charges is the second stage of criminal trial, after the appearance of the accused and before the recording of evidence. A charge means an allegation or accusation upon which an accused gets arrested. It is mostly in a written format against the person who has committed a crime. When there is trial of a warrant case, an official charge sheet in writing is to be made and declared whether the case is before the Session Court or a Magistrate.

In a summon case or a summary trial, a substance of accusation is enough hence, there is rarely a need to issue a formal charge against the accused. The chief element of charge contains the name of the offence of which an accused was charged. It also contains the date, time and place of commission of an offence and the person against whom the crime was committed. Further, it describes the details of the conduct of a crime. Section 211 & Section 212 of the CrPC specifies about contents of charge and the mentioning of particulars as to the time and place of the alleged offence in the charge.

In criminal jurisprudence, a fair trial is an important step to achieve natural and impartial justice. To achieve a fair trial, every person who is accused has a right to know the accusations with which he is charged. To know clearly about the charges is extremely important to be ready with the defence against the same accusations. In all trials under the Criminal Procedure Code, the accused is informed of the accusation at the beginning itself. In the case of serious offences, the Code requires that the accusations are to be formulated and reduced to writing with great precision & clarity. This “charge” is then to be read and explained to the accused person (This procedure is followed in trials of warrant cases & trials before courts of the session).

Charge is basically an indication of intimation to the accused, which states clear and explicit accusations upon the alleged culprit and on the basis of which the accused is called upon to meet in the court proceedings or trials.

ALTERATION OF CHARGES

The charges can be altered anytime by the court of law before pronouncing the judgment in the said matter. The court has wide power with this respect; they can alter, remove or add any appropriate charges against the accused. It has to be in consonance with the principle of unprejudiced justice and hence, to serve a similar purpose, the court can make changes in the charges. With the alterations in the charges, it must be communicated to the accused to make him prepare for the defence against the new accusations with which he has been charged.

PROCEDURE OF ALTERATION OF CHARGES

According to section 216(1) of the Criminal Procedure Code, an alteration can be done in charges by the court before delivering the judgment. After the alterations of the charges are done, a particular procedure needs to be followed:

  1. The accused must be informed about the new charges with which he has been charged;
  2. The confirmation has to be observed with respect to any impartial or unprejudiced charge against the accused, if the result is positive then the court proceed with the trial.
  3. If the new accusations or charges are found to be biased and unfair, then the court directs a new trial or adjourn the proceedings for some specific period of time to make the appropriate changes.
  4. The court may not proceed further on the same facts in the trial if the alteration requires the prosecution a previous sanction.
  5.  If the charge is altered after trial has commenced, the parties shall be allowed to recall or examine the witness in charge of which the charge is been altered.

The new trial commences only after when the court specifically delivers an order to start with a new trial; just because an alteration is done in the charges, it cannot be assumed that a new trial will begin. It has to be definite and direct.

The basic element for this charge and proceedings to work is to make a separate charge for every separate offence and every such charge shall be tried individually as well (Section 218 CrPC). But there are some exceptions to this; in several cases an accused can be charged all together in a single trial. The exceptions in which the court can frame all charges together and not separately against the accused:

  1. Where the accused explicitly request and submit it in a written form to the magistrate and if the same is found to be genuine and unbiased.
  2. Where the offences are of similar nature and can be covered under the same umbrella.
  3. Where the series of acts or offences are so connected that the same can be tried in a single trial.
  4. Where the same offence is falling under two different acts or laws.
  5. Where two or more persons are charged under the same offence or the offences are concerned with abetment, theft, extortion, cheating etc.

DISCHARGE OF ACCUSED

The Judge has the right to discharge the accused and this power to him is given under section 227 of the CrPC. To exercise the said power, the Judge has to give sufficient and reasonable grounds for discharging the accused. If found any constructive evidence of irregularity and prejudice related to the charges framed against the accused, the Judge can discharge the accused after notifying his reasons for doing so. This makes it evident that the Judge cannot convict or discharge anyone on the basis of mere assumptions.

In Kailash Gir v. V.K. Khare, Food Inspector, it was observed that Under Section 215 & 464 of CrPC, the objective is to prevent failure of justice where there has been an only technical breach of rules not going to the root of the case as such. The two sections read together to lay down that whatever the irregularity in the framing of a charge, it is not fatal unless there is prejudiced caused to the accused. Therefore, any small defects or error in framing the charges is no ground to set aside the whole conviction.

This article is authored by Vartika Srivastava, 2nd-Year, B.A. LL.B. student at Symbiosis Law School, NOIDA.

Also Read – Difference Between Hearing And Trial

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