July 15, 2018:
The Author, Sakshi Rewaria is a 3rd Year, BA.LLB (H) student of Amity Law School, Delhi. She is currently interning with LatestLaws.com
Q1. What do you mean by “Charge”?
Ans. A “Charge” simply means an allegation. It is an allegation in a written form against the person who has committed an offence. Charge is been served to the accused to give intimation of clear and Unambiguous notice of accusation upon which the person is been called to meet in the course of trial.
There is a need of a prima facie case for a charge to be framed.
Q2. When is formal charge been issued
Ans. When there is trial of a warrant case, a formal charge sheet in writing is to be issued whether the case is before the Session Court or a Magistrate. Whereas there is no need of formal charge and rather a substance of accusation to the accused is sufficient when the matter is a summon case or a summary trial.
Q3. What are the contents of a charge?
Ans. The charge states the offence with which the accused is been charged. The offence can be described in the charge by its name only eg. Murder, and if the law does not states any specific name for the offence then the offence must be defined. It contains ingredients like the date, time and place of commission of offence, the person against whom it was committed and also the manner in which it was done.
Q4. Can a charge be altered?
The court has very wide power to alter or add any charge at any time before the judgment of the case is been pronounced. It has to be exercised by the court in appropriate cases in the interest of justice and also keeping in mind that the order would not cause any prejudice to the accused.
If the charge has been altered, it is to be communicated to the accused as to enable him to prepare to meet the challenges as the sole objective of the charge is to warn the accused of the case he has to answer.
Q5. What is the procedure of alteration in charge?
Ans. A specific procedure is to be followed after the alteration of the charge is been done ie. :
- The alteration or addition shall be read and explained to the accused.
- If the change in charge is such that with the trial is not likely to prejudice any party in the case, the court may, after such change has been made, proceed with the trial.
- If the alteration is likely to prejudice any party relating to the case, the court can direct a new trial or can even adjourn the trial for the time seemed necessary.
- The court may not proceed further on the same facts in the trial, if the alteration requires the prosecution a previous sanction.
- If the charge is altered after trial has commenced, the parties shall be allowed to recall or examine the witness in charge of which the charge is been altered.
Q6. When does a new trial commence after alteration?
Ans. When the court passes a specific order and directs a new trial, it can then only be considered that a new trial has commenced and not only on the basis that any alteration has been made or an addition in the charge over the accused has been made.
Q7. What is the basic rule for charge and its trial?
Ans. The basic rule upon which charge and its trial function is that for every distinct offence for which a person is charged there shall be separate charge, and every such charge shall be tried separately.
Q8. Is there any exception to the basic rule of charge?
Ans. Yes. Though a separate charge is required for every distinct offence but still there are certain exceptions to this rule i.e.:
- Where the accused states his desire in written and the Magistrate sees that such act would not amount to any prejudice, then the accused may be tried together all or any number of charges against the person.
- When the accused has been charged for more than one offence of same kind i.e. Offences are punishable with same amount of punishment, within a period of 12 months from the first and the last offence, he may be charged in one trial.
- When in a series of acts are so connected to each other in same transaction and more than more offences has been committed by the person then he may be charged in a single trial.
- When the offence is falling under two or more separate laws defining the act to be punishable, then the person may be tried in a single trial for the acts.
- When there many two or more persons accused for the same offence in the act or the persons are accused for abetment or attempt to commit the offence or the offence is related to theft, extortion, cheating etc. They can be charged in a trial.
Q9. Can a person be convicted for minor offence when a major offence is been charged?
Ans. Yes, when a person is been charged for offences consisting several offences, of which few are minor offence, he can be convicted for the minor offence. But a person cannot be convicted for a major offence if he is charged with minor offences.
Q10. Can the accused be discharged?
Ans. If after consideration of the record of the case and the documents submitted 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 be discharged and the reason for such act be recorded.