Thursday 5 April 2012

object of framing charge in criminal case

What is the purpose or object in framing a charge ? When the accused is brought before a court, he is supplied with copies of documents referred to in s. 207. Now, these documents may contain a number of matters and the accused may be at large as to what is the specific accusation, he is supposed to meet. Charge serves the purpose of notice or intimation to the accused, drawn up according to specific language of law, giving clear and unambiguous or precise notice of the nature of accusation that the accused is called upon to meet in the course of a trial. Sec. 217 clearly prescribes what the charge should contain and a bare reading of it would show that the accused must be told in clear and unambiguous terms allegations of facts constituting the offence, the law which creates offence with a specific name if given to it. The section which is alleged to be violated with the name of the law in which it is contained. The fact that the charge is made is equivalent to a statement that every legal condition required by law to constitute the offence charged was fulfilled in the particular case. It is thus an intimation or notice to the accused of what precise offence or what allegations of facts he is called upon to meet. The object of a charge is to warn an accused person of the case he is to answer. It cannot be treated as if it was a part of a ceremonial. (See B. N. Srikantiah & Ors. v. The State of Mysore. If this be the purpose of the charge, reference to the provisions contained in Chapter XVII as to the various forms and modes of framing a charge or joinder of charges and joinder of persons to be tried at one trial are beside the point. The importance of framing the charge need not be overemphasised and that this should be shunned becomes appa- 464
rent from the observations of Bose J. in William Elaney v. The State of Madhya Pradesh which reads as under:- "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."
V. C. Shukla vs State Through C.B.I on 7 December, 1979
Equivalent citations: 1980 AIR 962, 1980 SCR (2) 380
Bench: Fazalali, S Murtaza
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