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Framing of Charge: Provision,Procedure and Alteration of Charges

One of the major aspect of a fair trial in criminal jurisprudence is to give detailed information to the accused as to the charge against him. The tenacity of mounting a charge is to give suggestion to the accused of clear, definite and precise notice of the nature of accusation that the accused is called upon to meet in the course of a trial. Charge contains the purpose of sending warning notice to the accused and the accused is called upon to meet in the course of trial in a clear, definite or precise manner.

Section 211 & Section 212 describes about Contents of Charge and mentioning of particulars as to time and place of the alleged offence in the charge.• Section 213 talks about; when way of committing offence must be stated • Section 214 refers a rule for interpreting the words used in the charge: It says that in every charge words used in describing an offence shall be seemed to used in the manner attached to them respectively by the law under which such offence is punishable.

Procedure of Trail

Main requirement of a fair trial in criminal cases is a accurate statement of the accusation. By laying down Sections 211 to 214 of CrPC we can seek what a charge should contain; In Section 218 of CrPC says that for every different offence there should be a separate charge; and finaly, by laying down in the same section that each charge should be strained distinctly, so that what is required to be achieved by the first two rules is not nullified because of numerous & unconnected charges. The Framing of charge means sketch up in writing by the Judge or Magistrate in distinct prescribed form of charge sheet regarding definite accusation , appeared prima facie , in the things collected during investigation , against the accused , stating there in the detail information of the crime for which he is charged . Substance of the specific complaint as to the date , time , venue, the person against whom or the things , in respect of which the crime is supposedly committed , the situations of the crime , the law and sections allegedly violated , are written in the charge sheet as well as read over and explained to the accused in order to make him aware regarding the full particulars of the allegation against him so that he can take his defence properly . The Judge or Magistrate is not sure to frame the charge blindly on basis of the charge sheet filed by the police .

Amendment/Alteration of charge

Before judgment is pronounced the Court can alter or add to any charge at any time. Every such alteration or addition shall be read and explained to the accused. If the modification or accumulation to a charge is such that proceeding immediately with the trial is not, likely to the opinion of the Court, to prejudice the accused in the defence or the prosecutor during the bearing of the case, the Court may, in its discretion, after alteration or addition has been made, proceed with the trial as if improved or added charge had been the original charge If the offence specified in the changed or added charge is one for the prosecution of which earlier sanction is necessary, the case may not be proceeded with until such permission is obtained, unless approval has already been obtained for a prosecution on the same evidences as those on which the altered or added charge is established.

According to Section 217 of the Code, when a charge is altered or added to by the Court after the commencement of a trial, the prosecutor as well as the accused shall be allowed:

(a) To re-summon, and examine with reference to such alteration or addition, any witness who may have been examined, unless the Court, for reasons to be recorded in writing, considers that the prosecutor or the accused, as the case may be, desires to recall or re-examine such witness for the purpose of vexation or delay or for defeating the ends of justice.

(b) Also to call any additional witness whom the Court may consider to be material.

When a charge is altered, the accused has the right and the Court is bound to recall any witness whom the prosecution or the accused desires to recall. After an alteration or addition of the charge the interest of prosecution and accused has to be safeguarded by permitting them to further examine or cross-examine the witnesses already examined, as the case may be, and by giving them an opportunity to call other witnesses. And the Court is given the discretion to disallow the request of the prosecutor or the accused to recall witnesses or three grounds, namely,

  • vexation,
  • delay, or
  • defeating the ends of justice.

Section 224 of CrPC describes that when a charge containing more heads than one is framed against the same person, and when a conviction has made on one or more of them, the complainant, or the officer leading the prosecution, may, with the consent, of the Court, remove the lasting charge or charges, or the Court of its own accord could stay the review into, or trial of, such charge as well as charges and such removal shall have the effect of an discharge on such charge and charges, unless the conviction be set aside, in which case the said Court may continue with the review into, or trial of, the charge as well as charges so withdrawn. The section is appropriate where the accused in convicted of one of several distinct charges before the other charges are tried. It is essential that the several charges made must be in respect of distinct offences and the section will not apply where the several charges are made under Sections 220(3), 220(4) and Section 221.

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