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Report No. 244

b. Nature of Enquiry under Section 227: Interpretation of "not sufficient ground for proceeding against the accused"

In A.R. Antulay R.S. Nayak v. A.R. Antulay, (1986) 1 SCC 716. the Supreme Court distinguished discharge under Section 239 and Section 227. In order to discharge the accused under Section 239, it has to be proved that the charge is "groundless". However, under Section 227, mere presence of a "ground" is not enough; the "sufficiency" of the ground also has to be proved. Thus, if the charge does not contain any "sufficient ground", the accused can be discharged under Section 227. Since Section 227 requires higher level of judicial scrutiny, it provides greater protection to the accused. R.S. Nayak v. A.R. Antulay, (1986) 1 SCC 716.

The words "not sufficient ground for proceeding against the accused" show that the Judge is not a mere "post office", Union of India v. Prafulla Kumar Samal, (1979) 3 SCC 4 or "recording machine", Almohan Das v. State of West Bengal, (1969) 2 SCR 520 to frame the charge at the behest of the prosecution, but has to apply his judicial mind to the facts of the case in order to determine whether a case for trial has been made out by the prosecution. K.P. Raghavan v. M.H. Abbas, AIR 1967 SC 740; Union of India v. Prafulla Kumar Samal, (1979) 3 SCC 4; Almohan Das v. State of West Bengal, (1969) 2 SCR 520.

The level of judicial scrutiny at charging stage need not be the same as expected at the trial level adjudication. However, the judge cannot simply accept the prosecution's story while framing the charges:

"The Judge has to sift the evidence in order to find out whether or not there is sufficient ground for proceeding against the accused. The sufficiency of ground would take within its fold the nature of the evidence recorded by the police or the documents produced before the court which ex facie disclose that there are suspicious circumstances against the accused so as to frame a charge against him." Union of India v. Prafulla Kumar Samal, (1979) 3 SCC 4, 8 para 8.



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