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Report No. 244

(iii) Cases on framing of charges

a. Provisions Dealing with Discharge

There are three sets of provisions dealing with the framing of charge and discharge of an accused, depending on the type of case and the court in question- Sections 227 and 228 for trials before the Court of Session; Sections 239 and 240 in warrants cases tried by Magistrates where a police report has been filed but evidence has not been led; Sections 245 and 246 in warrants cases tried by Magistrates where no police report is filed but after the recording of evidence.

This note deals primarily with the first category since most offences that are relevant for the purpose of disqualification are matters that fall within the remit of Sections 227 and 228. For a distinction between the procedures for framing of charges and discharge of an accused under each of these categories, see R.S. Nayak v. A.R. Antulay, (1986) 1 SCC 716.

Section 227 deals with discharge of an accused at the stage when hearing is fixed to frame charges. It reads:

"227. Discharg.- If, upon consideration of the record of the case and the documents submitted therewith, and after hearing the submissions of the accused and the prosecution in this behalf, the Judge considers that there is not sufficient ground for proceeding against the accused, he shall discharge the accused and record his reasons for so doing."

This section is part of Chapter XVII of the Code of Criminal Procedure, 1973 (CrPC.). This part deals with "charges" and requires precise framing of charges as evidenced by several provisions under this chapter. Framing of charges "is equivalent to a statement that every legal condition required by law to constitute the offence charged was fulfilled in the particular case."58

Further, the words describing a charge should be interpreted "in the sense attached to them respectively by the law under which such offence is punishable."59 Further, the charges should also contain all particular details with respect to the manner, time, place, persons against whom it was committed etc.60 Therefore, the sections construed together prove that the "framing of charges" is a an important judicial step.

58. Section 211 (5), Code of Criminal Procedure, 1973.

59. Section 214, Code of Criminal Procedure, 1973.

60. Section 211, 212, 213, Code of Criminal Procedure, 1973.

The requirement of precision in framing of charges is further strengthened by the Supreme Court judgements on the purposes and the role of charging stage in criminal process. The "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". V.C. Shukla v. State Through CBI, 1980 Cri LJ 690. Additionally, the Supreme Court has also recognized that since framing of the charges gravely impacts a person's liberty, the material on record should be properly considered by the court. State of Maharashtra v. Som Nath Thapa, (1996) 4 SCC 659.

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