Framing of Charge

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Framing of Charge

Charge

The term charge is defined is defined in S. 4 C and includes any head of charge when the charge contains more than one head. A charge is precise formulation of the specific accusation made against a person who is entitled to know its nature at the early stage.

Object

The purpose of the charge is to tell an accused as precisely and concisely as possible of the matter in which he is charged and must convey to him with sufficient clearness and certainty what the prosecution intends to prove against him and of which he will have to clear himself. Charge sheet in criminal administration of justice is gist of whole case of prosecution which requires to show that which of the accused has been implicated by which of the evidence collected against him.

Object of framing of charge sheet at the commencement of trial is primarily to enable accused to know the exact nature of offence, which he had already committed at particular date and time, so as to ensure that the accused has sufficient notice of the nature of accusation with which he is charged and secondly to make the court concerned conscious regarding real points in issue so that evidence could be confined to such points.

What particulars need to be stated

The essential particulars of charge are as under

Charge to state offence

The requirement of law u/s 221 Cr.P.C is that a charge should state the offence committed by the accused and mention the specific name of the offence if any specific name given to it by law.

Description of offence by name 

If the offence is named specifically by the law which creates the offence. The offence may be described in the charge by that name only.

Definition of the section 

If the law which creates the offence does not give it 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. In giving the definition of the offence charged it is always a sound rule for the court to adhere to the language of the statute as far as possible.

Section of law 

Sub-section (4) of S. 221 requires that the law and the section of the law against which the offence is said to have committed shall be mentioned in the charged. Thus in case of charge for murder mentioning of S. 302 PPC is necessary

Language of the court

The charge shall be written in English or in the language of the court.

Previous conviction

If a person is intended to be tried and punished with enhanced punishment or with punishment of a different kind as being a previous offender, the particulars of the previous conviction should be stated in the charge.

Particulars as to time, place and person

S. 222 contains a mandatory provision of law that charge shall contain all material particulars as to time, place as well as specific name of the alleged offence, the manner in which the offence is committed and the particulars of the charge. There is an exception to this rule as detailed in sub-section (2) where it is not possible for the prosecution to mention particulars precisely having regard to the nature of the information available to the prosecution. Failure to mention such particulars may not invalidate the charge.

Manner of committing offence

While framing charge it is essential that manner of committing offence must be stated. When the nature of the offence is such that the particulars mentioned in Ss. 221 and 222 do not give the accused sufficient notice of the manner with which he is charged, the charged shall also contain such particulars of the manner in which the alleged offence was committed as will be sufficient for that purpose. For instance, in a case of cheating the charge u/s 420 PPC is not indicative of the manner of deception practiced by the accused person the charge is defective (PLD 1957 S.C 257).

Error in framing charges

The whole object of framing a charge is to enable  the defence to concentrate its attention on the case that he has to met, if the charge is framed in such a vague manner that he necessary ingredients of the offences with which the accused is convicted is not brought out in the charge, then the charge is defective. The charge must allege all facts which are essential factors of the offence in question. But no yardstick can be fixed qua the particulars which should be mentioned in the charge as it depends upon the circumstances of each case. (2005 SCMR 364)

Effect of errors

S. 225 Cr.P.C intends to prevent any failure of justice for non-compliance with the matter required to be stated in the charge. The crux of the section is that omission or error committed while framing charge would not vitiate the trial unless the accused is in fact is misled by such error or omission and it has occasioned a failure of justice.

Every conceivable type of error and irregularity referable to a charge that could possibly arrive, can be cured. Error or irregularity would range from the case in which there is a conviction with no charge at all from start of finish down to cases in which there was a charge, but with error, irregularity and omissions therein. Criminal procedure code 1898 is emphatic that whatever irregularity can be. It is not to be regarded as fatal unless the case of either party is fatal.

Effect of material errors

S. 232 provides that if the appellate court or High Court is of opinion that any person convicted of an offence is misled in his defence by the absence of charge or by an error in the charge. It will direct a new trial. If no valid charge could be preferred against the accused in respect of the fact proved conviction is to be quashed. Where there is error or omission to frame charge. It is not to be regarded as material unless two condition are fulfilled:

  1. The accused has been in fact misled by it, and
  2. The error has occasioned a failure of justice.

Effect of omission to prepare charge

S. 535 provides that no finding or sentence pronounced or passed shall be deemed to be invalid merely on the ground that no charge was framed unless failure of justice has in fact been occasioned thereby. This section is not limited to a case of entire absence of charge but is also applicable where no charge is framed of the offence of which the accused is convicted, if he is not prejudiced. In judging the question of prejudice, courts must act with a broad vision and look to the substance and not to the technicalities. They should mainly see whether the accused had a fair trial, whether he knew what he was being tried for, whether the main facts sought to be established against him were explained to him. Fairly and clearly and whether he was given a full and fair charge to defend himself (PLD 1979S.c 53)

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