Relevance of a Charge Sheet in a Criminal Trial: Lawyers Advice
A charge sheet is final report document prepared by the police officer, collecting all relevant materials from all directions. This is done to substantiate accusation of a criminal offence in a court of law. It is filed after the registration of the First Information Report under Section 173(2) of the Code of Criminal Procedure.
Difference between a Charge Sheet and First Information Report and some relevant details with respect to the Charge Sheet: –
On one hand where the First Information Report contains the offence that was executed, while on the other hand the charge sheet comprises the comprises the name of parties, information’s’ nature, a witness who is well acquainted with all information and circumstances of the case, the person who committed the offence, information in relation to the arrest of the accused, information regarding his bail on his bond and if there is a security attached to the same, and lastly whether the accused has been taken into custody under section 170 of the Code of Criminal Procedure. It can be therefore said that the charge sheet marks the initiation of the criminal proceedings.
Explanation to the procedure of submitting the charge sheet for both simple and critical case: –
Submission of the charge sheet to the magistrate by the investigating officer or the SHO in order to take cognizance is subject to sufficient evidence against the accused. It may be noted that the charges must not only be brief in nature but also clear at the same time. All the aforementioned information should be invariably be mentioned. Now, there are two cases related to preparation of the charge sheets. In simple case, the same shall be drafted by the Sub-Inspector in negotiation with the Inspector in case the same is a necessity. While, in critical cases involving complex legal points, the charge sheet shall be drafted in discussion with the Director of Prosecution an in case of necessity, the public prosecutor should also be discussed. In order to conduct the investigation in accordance with the law it is necessary to consult the Director of Prosecution.
The different stages of a Criminal Trial
To be precise, there are total nine stages in a criminal trial. These nine stages are as follows:
- Registration of the First Information Report under Section 154 of the Code of Criminal Procedure. It may be noted that a First Information Report is a document registered by the police
- The registration of the First Information Report is followed by the criminal investigation which is executed to strong evidence to support the case and the arrest. This information along with other relevant details as mentioned in the earlier paragraph (under section 173(2) of the Code of Criminal Procedure) are recorded in the charge sheet.
- After gathering the evidence creating a link between the particular crime and a suspected person, the police arrest such suspect.
- In the case after careful consideration of the charge sheet and other relevant documents and reports, the accused is not discharged then in such a scenario charges are framed by the court.
- Under Section 241 of the Code of Criminal Procedure, post framing the charges, the accused is conferred with the opportunity to plead guilty. Now it is judge’s responsibility to ensure that such plea is voluntary in nature. Further pleading, the court may convict the accused.
- Framing of charges is followed by the procedure called examination of chief. Here, the prosecution is conferred with the responsibility to backup their evidence with statement from witness/witnesses. It may be noted that the magistrate is conferred with the authority to summon any person any person (witness) to produce his testimony.
- Now under section 313 of the Code of Criminal Procedure, the accused has an opportunity to be heard and further to elaborate on the circumstances of the matter. It may be noted that the statements are not recorded under any oath and thus can may be used against him in the trial.
- Other than presenting his statement before the court, the accused is conferred with an opportunity to present both oral and written evidence. However, in India the burden of proof lies generally upon the prosecution, thus the accused may not be required to provide defensive evidence.
- The final stage of a criminal trial is the pronouncement of judgement by the court of law after observing the reasons provided in support of the release or conviction of the accused.
Importance of the charge sheet in a criminal proceeding & the details regarding the time-limits prescribed for registering the charge sheet: –
Now, in case of a criminal proceeding, the charge sheet plays a vital role as the court based upon the same determines whether or not there is some prima facie evidence available against the accused. This consequently helps in putting the accused upon trial. Any charge framed against the accused is based upon the charge sheet and different records. This helps him to determine whether or not it is valid to plead guilty. Furthermore, the culpability of the culprit is determined based upon the pre-inquiry of the charge sheet. Suppose in case where the accused denies the charged levelled against him by the Police Authority, then without any delays the case is brought at the trial stage. It may be noted that there is a set time limit for filing the charge sheet against the accused. This time limit is 60 days from the arrest date of the accused, in case of a lower court. While, it is 90 days in case of Session court. Now in Union of India v. Nirala Yadav, the Hon’ble Supreme Court referring to the decision made in Uday Mohanlal Acharya v State of Maharashtra held that after the expiry of the prescribed period of 90 days or 60 days, depending upon the case, the accused is conferred with an indefeasible right to be released on bail on the ground of default on the part of the investigation department and furthermore the accused is fully entitled to be released on bail in case the same is ready to furnish the bail as instructed by the magistrate.
In R.P Kapur v. State of Punjab (1960 AIR 862), the Hon’ble Supreme Court of India held that as soon as the investigation is done, the magistrate should have the charge sheet registered before him. No unnecessary delays should be there and, in a case, where the investigation officer discovers that there is lack of evidence or there is falsity in the accusations made, then the charge sheet is not to be filed.
After filing the charge sheet, the accused may be released by the magistrate on bond under Section 173(4) of the Code of Criminal Procedure. It may be noted that such release is not complete discharge. However, in case where the matter fells under the Section 170 of the Code of Criminal Procedure, then the prosecution must deliver every relevant information in the form of documents along with the testimony presented by the witness to the magistrate.
It is not possible to charge a person with criminal case without the registration of the Charge Sheet: –
It may be noted that when a person is accused of any criminal offence, it is generally said that such person has been charged with an offence. However, until it reaches the stage of Section 211 of the Code of Criminal Procedure, such charges cannot be given a legal form. Now, after undergoing the requirements of Chapter XVI (commencement of the proceedings before the magistrate), Magistrate takes the cognizance of the criminal offence after forming an opinion as to whether or not there is any base for proceeding. It is only then that magistrate may issue summons or in cases warrant for appearing before the court of law. Now, executing the said procedure is after the registration of the Police report after completing the investigation. This Police report is known as the charge sheet. Thus, it only after the submission of the charge sheet that the Magistrate is able to frame charges against the person. And in the case at the stage of framing the accusations against the accused it appears to the court that there is no sufficient base to proceed further, the accused shall be discharged under section 227 of the Code of Criminal Procedure. Interestingly, the Police is conferred with the right to register additional charge sheet under Section 173(8) of the Code of Criminal Procedure to investigate more upon the matter.
In the above paragraphs, we discussed the relevance of a charge sheet in a criminal proceeding. A Charge sheet is a report formulated by the Police officer or Director of Prosecution in critical cases containing relevant details as prescribed under Section 173(2) of the Code of Criminal Procedure. So, the basis requirement of this report is to substantiate accusations in a criminal offence. This is procedure is carried out by the Magistrate who after taking the cognizance of the matter decides whether or not there is any base to proceed frame charges against the person.
Authored By: Adv. Anant Sharma & Aniket Pandey