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  1 | Page   Introduction: Meaning:   “The Charge”  shall give the accused full notice of the offence charged against him. The purpose of a charge is to tell an accused person as precisely and concisely as possible of the matter with which he is charged and must convey to him with sufficient clearness and certainty 1  what the prosecution intends to  prove against him and of which he will have to clear himself. The primary object of framing a charge is to give notice of the essential facts which the prosecution proposes to establish to bring home charge to the accused so that he will be able to defend and may not be prejudiced. It has been repeatedly held that the framing of a proper charge is vital to a criminal trial and that is a matter on which the judge should bestow the most careful attention. 2   The Purpose of Framing Charge: In the ruling of a four- Judge Bench of The Hon‟ble Supreme Court in V.C. Shukla v. State  3 . Justice Desai delivering a concurring opinion opined that „ the purpose of framing a charge is to give intimation to the accused of clear, unambiguous and precise notice of the nature of accusation that the accused is called upon to meet in the course of a trial‟.   Difference between Charge and Trial: CHARGE TRIAL 1.   The prosecutor files the „charge - sheet‟ containing „charge/s‟ in the court. 1.   After receiving the charge-sheet, the Magistrate takes the cognizance of the case and starts proceedings. 2.   The charge-sheet contains FIR, police report, investigation, names and description of the accused and witnesses, etc. 2.   Cognizance of the case be receiving the charge-sheet is the first step of the trial, and the trial includes all the proceeds of the court, and ends with announcement of judgment. 3.   Preparing and filing of the charge-sheet are done  by police and prosecutor, which is purely executive nature. 3.   Trial is conducted by the court. Trial is judicial nature. 4.   A private person cannot file charge-sheet. He can file complaint in non-cognizable offences. Generally the majority of the cases filed by the  police belong to cognizance offences. 4.   Whether a complaint or charge-sheet, the court conducts the proceedings judicially. 5.   Upto filing the charge- sheet, it is in the „Pre -Trial Process.‟ 5.   As soon as the court receives/takes the cognizance of a charge-sheet, the trial starts which is the „Trial Process‟. Contents: Sections 211-214 of the code enumerate requirements and particulars which a valid charge should contain. Looking to those provisions, it is clear that to be a valid charge; the following requirements must be satisfied: 4  (i)   It must state the offence with which the accused is charged; (ii)   If the law which creates the offence gives it any specific name, the offence should be described in the charge by that name only; 1  Jaswantrai v. Stae of Bombay, AIR 1956 SC 575 (585): 1956 SCR 483(504-05): 1956 CrLJ 1116; Willie Slaney v. State of M.P., AIR 1956 SC 116; (1955) 2 SCR 1140: 1956 CrLJ 291. 2  Balakrishnan v. State, AIR 1958 Ker 283; Basavaraja v. State of Karnataka, (2008) 9SCC 329: (2008) 3 SCC (Cri) 767. 3  C.B.I.,1980 Supplementary SCC 92 at page 150 and paragraph 110 4  Sec. 211  2 | Page   (iii)   If the law which creates the offence does not give any specific name, so much of the definition of the offence must be stated as to give the accused notice of the matter with which he is charged; (iv)   The law and section of the law against which the offence is said to have been committed must be mentioned in the charge; (v)   It must be in writing; (vi)   It must be in the language of the court; (vii)   If the accused has been previously convicted of any offence, and by reason of such previous conviction, is liable to enhanced punishment or to punishment of a different kind for a subsequent offence, the fact, date and place of the previous conviction must be stated in the charge; (viii)   It must give particulars as to the time and place of the alleged offence and the person against whom or the thing in respect of which the offence was committed; However, when the accused is charged with criminal breach of trust or dishonest misappropriation of money or other movable property, it shall be sufficient to specify the gross sum or describe the movable property in respect of which and the dates between which the offence is alleged to have been committed without specifying particular items or exact items or exact dates, provided that the time included between the first and last of such dates shall not exceed one year. 5  (ix)   When the nature of the case is such that the above particulars do not give the accused sufficient notice of the matter with which he is charged, the charge shall also contain such particulars of the matter in which the alleged offence was committed as will be sufficient for that purpose; 6  (x)   In every charge words used in describing an offence shall be deemed to have been used in the sense attached to them by the law under which such offence is punishable. 7  A charge must be precise in its scope and particular in its details. Such particulars should be stated in the charge as are reasonably sufficient to give the accused notice of the matter with which he is charged. Whether or not sufficient particulars have been mentioned in the charge must be decided with reference to facts and circumstances of each case. 8   Form of Charge:  the forms in which the charges are to be framed are set out in Form No. 32 of the Second Schedule. They provide framing of a charge with one head, with two or more heads, etc. Form No. 32 Charges I.   CHARGE WITH ONE HEAD (a)   I, (name and office of Magistrate, etc. ), hereby charge you ( name of accused person)  as follows:- (b)   That you, being a public servant in the..................... Department, directly accepted from (  state the name ) gratification other than legal remuneration, as a motive for forbearing to do an official act, and thereby committed an offence punishable under Section 161 of the Indian Penal Code, and within the cognizance of this Court. (c)   And I hereby direct that you tried by this Court on the said charge. 5  Sec. 212 6  Sec. 213 7  Sec. 214 8  Chittaranjan Das v. State of W.B; Kantilal v. State of Gujarath, AIR 1974 SC 222: (1974) 3 SCC 587: 1974 SCC 310; Main Pal v. State of Haryana, AIR 2010 SC 3292: 2010 CrLJ 4450: (2010)10 SCC 130.  3 | Page   ( Signature and Seal of the Magistrate )   II.   CHARGE WITH TWO OR MORE HEADS: (a)   I, ( name and office of the sessions Judge, etc. ) hereby charge you ( name of accused person)  as follows:- (b)   First-That you, on or about the.............. day of.............. at............... committed murder by causing the death of.............., and thereby committed an offence punishable under Section 302 of the Indian  penal Code, and within the cognizance of the Court of Session. Secondly-That you, on or about the.............. day of............... at................ by causing the death of.............. committed culpable homicide not amounting to murder, and thereby committed an offence punishable under Section 304 of the Indian Penal Code, and within the cognizance of the Court of Session. (c)   And I hereby direct that you be tried by the said Court on the said charge. ( Signature and seal of the Court  ) Scope of Inquiry: at the stage of framing a charge, the court has to be satisfied only prima facie about the existence of sufficient grounds for proceeding against the accused. The court is not required to appreciate evidence to conclude whether the materials produced are sufficient for bringing home guilt of the accused. The only question is whether the material on record supports a triable case. Each case depends upon its  peculiar facts and circumstances. Errors and Omissions: sections 215, 464 and 465 of the Code should be read together since they deal with the same question. Section 215 enacts that no error or omission in the charge will be regarded as material unless it has occasioned a failure of justice.  Effect of errors:  No error in stating either the offence or the particulars required to be stated in the charge, and no omission to state the offence or those particulars, shall be regarded at any stage of the case as material, unless the accused was in fact misled by such error or omission, and it has occasioned a failure of  justice. 464.  Effect of omission to frame, or absence of, or error in, charge:  (1) No finding sentence or order by a Court of competent jurisdiction shall be deemed invalid merely on the ground that no charge was framed or on the ground of any error, omission or irregularity in the charge including any misjoinder of charges, unless, in the opinion of the Court of appeal, confirmation or revision, a failure of justice has in fact been occasioned thereby. (2) If the Court of appeal, confirmation or revision is of opinion that a failure of justice has in fact been occasioned, it may- (a) in the case of an omission to frame a charge, order that a charge be framed and that the trial be recommenced from the point immediately after the framing of the charge; (b) in the case of an error, omission or irregularity in the charge, direct a new trial to be had upon a charge framed in whatever manner it thinks fit:  4 | Page   Provided that if the Court is of opinion that the facts of the case are such that no valid charge could be  preferred against the accused in respect of the facts proved, it shall quash the conviction. While examining the aforesaid provisions, we may keep in mind the principles laid down by Justice Vivian Bose in Willie (William) Slaney v. State of Madhya Pradesh  9  of the report, the learned judge observed:- We see no reason for straining at the meaning of these plain and emphatic provisions unless ritual and form are to be regarded as of the essence in criminal trials. We are unable to find any magic or charm in the ritual of a charge. It is the substance of these provisions that count and not their outward form. To hold otherwise is only to provide avenues of escape for the guilty and afford no protection to the innocent. The aforesaid observation of Justice Vivian Bose in William Slaney (supra) has been expressly approved subsequently by this Court in V.C. Shukla (supra). Reference in this connection may be made to the decision of this Court in the case of Tulsi Ram and others v. State of Uttar Pradesh  10 . In that case in paragraph 12 this Court was considering these aspects of the matter and made it clear that a complaint about the charge was never raised at any earlier stage and the learned Judges came to the conclusion that the charge was fully understood by the appellants in that case and they never complained at the appropriate stage that they were confused or bewildered by the charge. The sad thing is true here. Therefore, the Court refused to accept any grievance relating to error in the framing of the charge. Alteration in Charge: Section-216 the object is to secure fair trial to the accused and it is the duty of the court to ensure that alteration or addition of charge has not caused prejudice to him. Though the power is wide and extensive, it must be exercised judiciously. The court cannot alter the charge to the prejudice of the accused. Similarly, such power cannot be exercised after the accused is discharged of all the charges inasmuch as no charge exists against him and the provisions of Section 216 do not apply. Joinder of charges: sections 218 to 222 of the Code provide for joinder of charges in one trial against the same accused. Section 223 deals with joint trial against two or more accused persons. The basic rule  –   section 218 lays down the basic rule relating to trial of offences and enacts that for every distinct offence there must be a separate charge and a separate trial for each such charge. Exceptions: if the case falls in any of the exceptions, joinder of charges is permissible. (1)    Desire of accused: where the accused the rule relating to separate trial is for the benefit of the accused and when the accused himself wants joint trial and the magistrate is satisfied that such joint trial will not prejudice the accused, joint trial is permissible. 11   (2)   Three offences of same kind within one year:  when a person is accused of more offences than one of the same kind committed within one year, whether in respect of the same person or not, he may be charged with and tried at one trial for any number of them not exceeding three. 12   (3)   Offences in course of same transaction:  if, in one series of acts so connected together as to form the same transaction, more offences than one are committed by the same person, he may be charged with and tried at one trial for every such offence. 13   9  (1955) 2 SCR 1140 10  AIR 1963 SC 666 11  State of Punjab v. Rajesh, AIR 2002 SC 3687: (2002) 8 SCC 158. 12  Manoharan v. Director General of Police, 2002 CrLJ NOC 51: (2001) 3 KerLT 509: (2001) 2 KerLJ 721; Chandra v. State, (1951) 53 Bom LR 928 (FB).
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