Monday, May 11, 2015

The Charge : Sections 211-224 and 464 of CrPC

What is Charge?

Charge is a first notice to accused of his offence, it should convey to him in sufficient clearness and certainty what the prosecution intends to prove and which case the accused is to meet. The charge sheet corresponds to indictment under English Law.

Section 2(b) of the Code of Criminal Procedure (in short crpc) defines a charge as including any head of charge, when the charge contains more than one. However the Code of Criminal Procedure does not define what a charge is. In law a charge may be define as a precise formulation of a specific accusation made against a person of an offence alleged to have been committed by him.

Purpose and Object

The purpose of a charge is to tell the accused, as precisely and concisely as possible, about the matter with which he is charged and the object of a charge is to warn the accused of the case which he has to answer. The forms in which the charges may be framed are set forth in Second Schedule of the Code of Criminal Procedure.

The Legal Provisions

The provisions regarding charge are contained in Sections 211 to 224 and 464 of the crpc. Sections 211 to 214 of crpc deals with what a charge should contain. Section 211 of the crpc lays down that every charge shall contain the following particulars:-

(1) The offence with which the accused is charged.

(2) If the law which creats the offence gives it, any specific name, the offence may be described in the charge by that name.

(3) If the law which creats the offence does not give it any specific name, so much of the definition of the offence must be stated as to give the acused notice of the matter with which he is charged.

(4) The law and the section of the law against which the offence is said to have been committed shall be mentioned in the charge.

(5) The fact that charge is made is equivalent to statement that every legal condition required by law to constitute the offence charged was fulfilled in the particular case.

(6) The charge shall be written in the language of the court.

(7) If the accused having been previously convicted of any offence is liable, by reason of such previous conviction to enhanced punishment or to punishment of a different kind, for a subsequent offence and it is intended to prove such previous conviction for the purpose of affecting the punishment, which the court may think fit to award for the subsequent offence the fact, date and place of the previous conviction shall be stated in the charge; and if such statement has been omitted, the court may add it at any time before sentence is passed.

Section 212, crpc then provides that the charge must contain such particulars as to the time and place of the alleged offence, and the person, if any against whom, or the thing if any, in respect of which, the offence was committed as are reasonably sufficient to give to the accused notice of the matter with which he is charged.
According to Section 212(2), crpc when the charge is of criminal breach of trust or criminal misappropriation of money, it shall be sufficient to specify
(a) the gross sum in respect of which the offence is committed;
(b) the dates between which it is committed provided the time between the first and the last date shall not exceed one year.

Section 213, crpc lays down that if the nature of the case is such that the particulars mentioned in Sections 211 and 212 of crpc do not give to the accused sufficient notice of the matter with which he is charged, the charge must also mention such particulars of the manner in which the alleged offence was committed as would be sufficient for that purpose. e.g. A is accused of cheating B at a given time and place. The charge must set out the manner in which A cheated B.

Effect of a defective charge

The matter have been provided in Sections 215 and 464 of the Code of Criminal Procedure. The two sections read together lay down that whatever the irregularity in framing of a charge, it is not fatal unless there is prejudice caused to the accused. The mere omission to frame a charge or a mere defect in the charge is no ground for setting aside a conviction. Procedural laws are designed to subserve the ends of justice and not to frustrate them by mere technicalities. The object of the charge is to give an accused notice of the matter he is charged with. If the necessary information is conveyed to him and no prejudice is caused to him because of the charges, the accused cannot succeed by merely showing that the charges framed were defective. Nor could a conviction recorded on charges under wrong provisions be reversed if the accused was informed of the details of the offence committed and thus no prejudice was caused to him.

The court may alter or add to any charge at any time before the judgment is pronounced (sections 216 and 217, crpc). But if a person has been charged the court cannot drop it. He has either to be convicted or acquitted.

Disclaimer: All the contents are for general use and information. Consult your lawyer before acting upon these informations.