Framing of Charges; 12 Important Supreme Court Decisions

# Framing of Charges

# 1. Supdt. And Remembrance of Legal Affairs, West Bengal v. Anil Kumar Bhunja, AIR 1980 SC 52

The law regarding discharging the accused u/s.227 of Cr. P. C. is now well settled as decided by the Full Bench of the Apex Court in that the standard test, proof and judgment which is to be applied finally before finding the accused guilty or otherwise is not exactly to be applied at the stage of S.277 or S.228 At this stage, even a very strong suspicion founded upon materials before the Magistrate, which leads him to form a presumptive opinion as to the existence of the factual ingredients constituting the offence alleged, may justify the framing of charges against the accused in respect of the commission of that offence.

# 2. Niranjan Singh Karam Singh Punjabi, Advocate v. Jitender Bhimraj Bijja, AIR 1990 SC 1962 : (1990) 4 SCC 76

Wherein, the Full Bench of the Apex Court has held that consideration of the record and document at that stage is for the limited purpose of ascertaining whether or not there exists sufficient grounds for proceeding with the trial against the accused and with furtherance sufficient ground to proceed, charge shall be framed and that at that such stage, the trial Court has not to marshal the documents produced before it as it would do on the conclusion of evidence for deciding the charge.

The Apex Court considered the scope of S.227 and opined that Court is not expected to make a rowing inquiry into the pros and cons of the issue and weigh the evidence as if a trial is conducted. Accused can be discharged only when there is no prima facie ground to sustain the charge. What is required is the sufficiency of ground to sustain the charge. What is required is the sufficiency of ground for proceeding against the accused and not whether materials on record are sufficient for conviction.

After considering the provisions of Ss. 227 and 228 of Cr. P. C, Court posed a question whether at the stage of framing the charge, trial Court should marshal the materials on the record of the case as he would do on the conclusion of the trial? The Court held that at the stage of framing the charge inquiry must necessarily be limited to deciding if the facts emerging from such materials constitute the offence with which the accused could be charged.

The Court may peruse the records for that limited purpose, but it is not required to marshal with a view to decide the reliability thereof.

It is well settled that at the stage of framing charge the Court is not expected to go deep into the probative value of the material on record. If on the basis of materials on record the Court could come to the conclusion that the accused would have committed the offence, the Court is obliged to frame the charge and proceed to the trial.

# 3. Om Wati vs. State, AIR 2001 SC 1507

In it is observed that accused cannot be discharged on hypothesis, imagination and far-fetched reasons.

# 4. State of Maharashtra vs. Priya Sharan Maharaj, AIR 1997 SC 2041

It is held that at the stage of framing the charge, the Court has to consider the material with a view to find out if there is ground for presuming that accused has committed an offence or that there is no sufficient ground for proceeding against him and not for the charges by arriving at the conclusion that it is not likely to lead to a conviction.

# 5. State of MP vs. SB Johari, AIR 2000 SC 665 : (2000) 2 SCC 57

It was held that, the Court at the stage of S.227 and S.228 is not required to appreciate the evidence and arrive at the conclusion that the materials produced are sufficient or not for convicting the accused. Only prima facie case is to be looked into. The charge can be quashed if the evidence which the prosecutor proposes to prove the guilt of the accused, even if fully accepted, it cannot show that accused committed that particular offence. Thus it is settled law that at the stage of framing the charge, the Court has to prima facie consider whether there is sufficient ground for proceeding against the accused. The Court is not required to appreciate the evidence and arrive at the conclusion that the materials produced are sufficient or not for convicting the accused. If the Court is satisfied that a prima facie case is made out for proceeding further then a charge has to be framed. The charge can be quashed if the evidence which the prosecutor proposes to adduce to prove the guilt of the accused, even if fully accepted before it is challenged by cross-examination or rebutted by defence evidence, if any, cannot show that accused committed the particular offence. In such case there would be no sufficient ground for proceeding with the trial.

# 6. State of Orissa vs. Debendra Nath Padhi, 2005 SC 359

The Apex Court has held that, it is seen from S.227 of the Code that in a case triable before the Court of Session, if the Court on consideration of the record of the case and the documents submitted therewith and after hearing the submission of the prosecution and the accused if the Judge considers that there is no sufficient ground for proceeding against the accused, he shall discharge the accused after recording reasons for doing so. This Section nowhere contemplates an opportunity being given to the accused person to produce evidence in defence at that stage. The section is quite clear that whatever consideration that has to be made by the Court, will have to be based on the record of the case and documents submitted therewith, and after hearing the submissions of the accused and the prosecution. If after doing so, the Court comes to the conclusion that there is a ground for presuming that the accused has committed an offence, then the Court shall frame charge u/s.228 of the Code, otherwise it shall discharge the accused under S.227 of the Code. It is further held that: It is clear that all that the Court has to do at the time of framing a charge is to consider the question of sufficiency of ground for proceeding against the accused on a general consideration of the materials placed before it by the investigating agency. There is no requirement in law that the Court at that stage should either given an opportunity to the accused to produce evidence in defence or consider such evidence the defence may produce at that stage.

# 7. State of Maharashtra v. Priya Sharan Maharaj, (1997) 4 SCC 393 : 1997 AIR SCW 1833

At the stage of Sections 227 and 228, the Court is required to evaluate the material and documents on record with a view to find out if the facts emerging there from taken at their face value disclose the existence of all the ingredients constituting the alleged offence. The Court may, for this limited purpose, sift the evidence as it cannot be expected even at that initial stage to accept all that the prosecution states as gospel truth and even if it is opposed to common sense or the broad probabilities of the case. Therefore, at the stage of framing of the charge, the Court has to consider the material with a view to find out that whether there is any ground for presuming that the accused has committed the offence or that there is not sufficient ground for proceeding against him and not for the purpose of arriving at the conclusion that it is not likely to lead to a conviction.

# 8. State of MP v. Mohan Lal Soni, AIR 2000 SC 2583

The Court while referring to several previous decisions, held that the crystallized judicial view is that at the stage of framing charge, the Court has to prima facie consider whether there is sufficient ground for proceeding against the accused. The Court is not required to appreciate evidence to conclude whether the materials produced are sufficient or not for convicting the accused. It is further held that, each case depends upon its particular facts and circumstances and sometime even a remote link between the activities of an accused and the facts of the case may justify a reasonable inference warranting a judicial finding that there is ground for presuming that an accused has committed the offence or at least to presume that the question of his being directly or indirectly involved in the commission of such offence is not to be ruled out.

# 9. State of Maharashtra v. Som Nath Thapa, (1996) 4 SCC 695 : 1996 AIR SCW 1977

A three-Judge Bench of Hon’ble Supreme Court has held that, if on the basis of materials on record a Court could come to the conclusion that commission of the offence is a probable consequence, a case for framing of charge exists. To put it differently, if the Court were to think that the accused might have committed the offence, it can frame the charge, though for conviction the conclusion is required to be that the accused has committed the offence. It is apparent that at the stage of framing of charge, probative value of the materials on record cannot be gone into; the materials brought on record by the prosecution has to be accepted as true at that stage.

# 10. State of U.P. v. Udai Narayan, AIR 1999 SC 3845 : 1999 AIR SCW 3921

The Apex Court has specifically determined in its decision reported in while dealing with the issue regarding discharge of accused from the charges under the Prevention of Corruption Act, 1988 that scanning and scrutinizing the evidence and materials produced by the prosecution is not permitted at the time of deciding the prayer for discharge and that positive conclusion on material record should be avoided as it may affect the trial.

# 11. State of Himachal Pradesh v. Krishan Lal Pardhan, AIR 1987 SC 773

The Apex Court has held that for scrutiny within the limits of S. 239, Cr. P. C.,all that is required at the stage of framing of charges is to see whether a prima facie case regarding the commission of certain offences is made out. The question whether the charges will eventually stand proved or not can be determined only after evidence is recorded in the case, which cannot be decided on merits without giving the prosecution an opportunity to adduce evidence against the accused.

# 12. Soma Chakravarty v. State, AIR 2007 SC 2149 : 2007 AIR SCW 3683

It is held as under: It may be mentioned that the settled legal position, as mentioned in the above decisions, is that if on the basis of material on record the Court could form an opinion that the accused might have committed offence it can frame the charge, though for conviction the conclusion is required to be proved beyond reasonable doubt that the accused has committed the offence. At the time of framing of the charges the probative value of the material on record cannot be gone into, and the material brought on record by the prosecution has to be accepted as true at that stage. Before framing a charge the court must apply its judicial mind on the material placed on record and must be satisfied that the commitment of offence by the accused was possible. Whether, in fact, the accused committed the offence, can only be decided in the trial.

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