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KEY TAKE AWAYS

  • ‘Charge’ refers to any head of charge when the charge contains more than one head.
  • The court or the appeals court may either alter or increase the charge provided the sole condition is either that the accused has not faced charges for a replacement offence or the accused must be given the chance of meeting and defending the charge against him.
  • In some circumstances the court allows joint trial and therefore the courts may consider an equivalent within the interest of the administration of justice after thoroughly studying the facts and circumstances of every case.

INTRODUCTION

Section 2 (b) of the Criminal Procedure Code, 19 (CrPC) states that ‘Charge’ refers to any head of charge when the charge contains more than one head.

Charge basically means informing the accused person the charges which was used as grounds to accuse him. A charge is defined under Section 2(b) of the Criminal Procedure Code, 1973 which states, the charge includes any head of the charge when the charge contains quite one head.

The case of V.C Shuklav. State,1980 AIR 962, 1980 SCR (2) 380 explains the aim of framing charge is to offer intimation to the accused, which is involved consistent with the precise language of the law, and giving clear and precise notice that is unambiguous of the character of the accusation that the accused is named upon to satisfy within the course of an attempt.

CONTENTS OF CHARGE

Section 211 of CrPC constitutes essentials elements of the contents of the charge:

  1. The charge form shall state the offence that the accused is charged.
  2. The charge form shall specify the precise offence name that the accused is charged.
  3. In case there's no specific name given under any law for the offence which the accused is charged with, then the definition of the offence must be clearly stated within the charged form and informed to the accused.
  4. The law and provisions of the law to be mentioned within the charge form.
  5. The charge shall be written within the language of the court.
  6. The accused shall be told about his previous allegations which might expose him to enhanced punishments if found guilty for the offence charged.

In the case of Court on Its Own Motion vs Sh. Shankroo on 1 September, 1982Citations: 1983 CriLJ 63the court held that mere suggestion of the Section under which the accused is charged, without suggesting the substance of the charge amounts to a significant breach of procedure.

In Dal Chand v State 27 August, 1966 CriLJ 236, the court held that defect responsible vitiates the conviction.

Section 212 of CrPC asserts the contents of a charge form:

  1. The offence that the accused is charged and therefore the particulars just like the time, place and therefore the person against whom the offence is committed and giving to the accused the precise and clear notice of matter that he's charged.
  2. The exact time needn't be mentioned within the charge form when the accused is charged with criminal breach of trust or dishonest misappropriation of cash or the other movable property, it's sufficient if the gross sum is specified and therefore the dates on which such alleged offence are committed.

In Ranchhodlal vs State of Madhya Pradesh on 27 November, 1964 Citations: 1965 AIR 1248, 1965 SCR (2) 283, it had been held that failure to say the particulars precisely thanks to the character of the knowledge might not invalidate the proceedings.

Section 213 of CrPC asserts When the character of the case is such the particulars mentioned in Section 211 and 212 don't give the accused sufficient notice of the matter with which he's charged, the charge shall contain such particulars of how the alleged offence is committed as are going to be sufficient for that purpose.

ALTERATION OF CHARGE

Section 216 of CrPC explains that courts shall have the facility to change or increase charge at any time before the judgment is pronounced.

The court or the appeals court may either alter or increase the charge provided the sole condition is:

  • Accused has not faced charges for a replacement offence.
  • Accused must are given the chance of meeting and defending the charge against him.

After such alteration or any addition made to the charge, the charge shall be explained to the accused on enable him to organize to satisfy the fresh challenges.

If the court concludes that the alteration or addition of the charge is probably going to be prejudiced to the accused or the prosecutor then the court may proceed with the first trial or adjourn it. The case shall not proceed unless the sanction is received in respect of the facts containing the contents the offence.

JOINDER OF CHARGES

In the case of K. Satwant Singh vs The State of Punjab28 October, 1959 Citations: 1960 AIR 266, 1960 SCR (2) 89, sections of joinder of charges aren't compelling. They only permit the joint trial of charges under certain circumstances, and therefore the courts may consider an equivalent within the interest of the administration of justice after thoroughly studying the facts and circumstances of every case.

THE BASIC RULE REGARDING CHARGE AND IT’S TRIAL

The initial requirement of a good trial in criminal cases may be a precise statement of the accusation.

Exceptions to the essential rule

Exception 1

Section 219 of CrPC asserts when an individual is accused of an offence of quite one, but not exceeding three of an equivalent kind, and therefore the offence is committed within twelve months then the accused could also be charged and tried at one trial for all the offences committed. Offences are said to be of an equivalent kind once they are punishable with an equivalent amount of punishment under an equivalent Section of Indian legal code or any special law or local laws.

The proviso to Section 219 of CrPC states when the accused is punishable under Section 379 of IPC, and it's said to be the offence of an equivalent kind as an offence punishable under Section 380 of IPC.

In Madan Mohan Sahoo And Anr. vs State Of Orissa on 27 September, 1995 Citations: 1996 CriLJ 1169, the cheques for the same was issued within 12 months. The court held that it had been not necessary to file two separate complaints against their dishonour and it's enough if one complaint is filed.

Exception 2

Section 220(1) of CrPC When the accused commits several offences within the same transactions, then he could also be tried jointly and it's immaterial whether the offence is of an equivalent kind or not, or whether the amount exceeds three or not, and whether the offence is committed within one year or not.

Mohinder Singh vs State Of Punjab on 31 July, 1963 Citations: AIR 1965 SC 79, 1965 CriLJ 112: during this case, it had been held that the court may or might not try all the offences together in one trial.

Exception 3

Section 220(2) of CrPC When the accused is charged with one or more offences of criminal breach of trust or dishonest misappropriation of property the accused could also be charged with and it was all tried at once in one trial for each such offence.

Exception 4

Section 220(3) of CrPC When the accused is charged with an offence which is falling under two or more separate definitions of law, then the accused could also be charged with and tried at one trial for every of such offences.

Ramayan Bhagat And Anr. vs The State on 30 August, 1968: during this case, it had been said that a person could also be prosecuted under Section 7 of the Essential Commodities Act, 1955 for having rice above the prescribed limit and also for dacoity in respect of an equivalent bags of rice.

Exception 5

Section 220(4) of CrPC When the accused commits several acts and one among which constitutes an offence and when it's combined constitutes a special offence, the accused person could also be tried at one trial for the offence constituted by such acts when combined and for any offence constituted by anybody or more of such acts.

Example: A commits robbery on B, and in doing so voluntarily causes hurt to him. A could also be separately charged with and convicted of an offence under Section 323, 392 and 394 of IPC.

Exception 6

Section 221 of CrPC lays down a couple of conditions:

  1. When one act or series of acts is of such a nature that it's doubtful what offence the accused has committed then the accused could also be charged with having committed all or any of such offences and therefore the charges against could also be tried directly or the accused could also be charged within the alternative with having committed someone of said offences.
  2. When the accused is charged with one offence but it appears that within the evidence there's altogether a special offence that he was charged then the accused is convicted for the offence only which he committed even though he has not charged with it.

This section is applicable only in cognate offences like theft and criminal breach of trust and it doesn't include offences like murder and theft.

Achhut Rai And Anr. vs Emperor on 9 August, 1926 Citations: AIR 1927 All 75: during this case, where the accused is charged with murder under Section 302 of IPC, the accused can't be convicted under Section 194 of the Indian legal code.

Exception 7

Section 223 of CrPC provides certain persons are often tried jointly:

  • Accused who committed an equivalent offence within the same course of the transaction.
  • Accused of an offence and person accused of abetment of or plan to commit such offence.
  • Accused of quite one offence of an equivalent kind and committed by them jointly within twelve months.
  • Accused of various offences committed within the course of an equivalent transaction
  • Accused of an offence which incorporates theft, extortion, cheating, criminal misappropriation, concealment of property.
  • Accused of offences under Section 411 and 414 of the Indian legal code.
  • Accused of offences under Chapter XII of the Indian legal code.

The proviso to Section 223 of CrPC provides that the magistrate on an application of the accused person may direct their joint trial albeit they are doing not fall into the categories specified if the magistrate believes that trial of such persons wouldn't be prejudicially affected.

Dinesh Kumar vs State on 25 January, 2021: during this case, the court held that where several persons are imagined to have committed several separate offences, which aren't wholly unconnected then there could also be a joint trial unless such joint trial is probably going to cause either embarrassment or difficulty to the accused in defending themselves.

CONVICTION OF AN OFFRNCE NOT CHARGED WHEN SUCH OFFENCE IS INCLUDED IN AN OFFENCE CHARGED

Section 222 of CrPC provided when the accused is charged with several offences and a few of which when combined and proved form an entire minor offence, then the accused could also be convicted of a minor offence though he wasn't charged with such minor offence. Where the accused is charged with an offence, he could also be convicted of an effort to commit such offence although the attempt isn't separately charged.

Unless the conditions are fulfilled for the conviction of the accused of the minor offence, the conviction cannot happen. Eg: where the sanction is lacking.

This section applies only the main and minor offences are cognate.

WITHDRAWAL OF REMAINING CHARGE ON CONVICTION ON ONE OF SEVERAL CHARGES

Section 224 of CrPC states when the accused is charged with quite one head, and after the conviction of the accused thereunder head then either the complainant or the officer conducting the prosecution may withdraw the remaining charge with the consent of the court.

Vibhuti Narayan Chaubey Alias vs State of U.P. on 7 August, 2002 Citations: 2003 CriLJ 196, during this case, a charge is often withdrawn under this section only after the judgment and it can't be deleted.

EFFECT OF ERRORS

Section 215 and 464 of CrPC deals with effect or errors.

The idea behind these sections is to stop failure of justice where there has been an only technical breach of rules and while not getting to the roots of the case intrinsically. Section 215 of CrPC states there shall be no error or omission either in stating the offence or the particulars which are required to be stated within the charge, and that they shall be considered material at any stage of the trial unless the accused was misled by such error or occasioned as a consequence and as a consequence it's failed justice.

Bhagabat Das And Ors. vs State of Orissa on 12 December, 1988 Citations: 1989 CriLJ 640: during this case, the court held that the insignificant irregularities in stating the particulars of the offence within the charge won't affect the trial or its outcome.

Section 464 of CrPC states that no sentence or order given by the competent jurisdiction shall be invalid merely on the bottom that no charge was framed or charged framed was supported some error, omission, irregularity, including any misjoinder of charge unless, within the opinion of the court of appeal, confirmation or revision, a failure of justice has been occasioned.

If the court concludes there has been omission or irregularity or error to border a charge then the court may order a charge to be framed which the trial could also be recommenced from that time immediately after framing of the charge or direct the new trial to be held upon the new charge framed.

Provided, if the court is within the opinion that facts of the case are such no valid charge might be preferred against the accused then the conviction shall be quashed.

CONCLUSION

In a criminal trial, the charge is that the foundation of the accusation and each care must be taken to ascertain that it's not only properly framed but the evidence is merely tendered concerning the matters put during a charge and not the opposite matters.


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