A very important part of the Principle Of Natural Justice , a Charge is a precise formulation of the accusation against the accused. It is actually the beginning of a trial. This stage of charge framing requires that the accused shall be informed of the exact offences for which he is to be tried, reason being that the accused can prepare himself for his defence. Also, in order to ensure that the Principles of Natural Justice are being followed the accused must be informed of the charges framed against him. Notably , this formal charge framing stage is not there in Summons.
Section 211-214 of CrPC talks about what ‘ Charge’ should contain. Firstly, the offence with which the accused is charged with should be mentioned i.e the name of the offences like hurt , grievious hurt , rape. If there is no specific name of the offence then the offence should be defined and described in the charge itself. All prima facie evidences should also be mentioned depending upon the offence. For example – in case of a Murder, a knife , a blood-stained cloth found. Moreover, the charge shall be written in the language of the Court which is as per the schedule II , form number 32 of CrPC. Section 272 of the code empowers the state to determine what shall be the language of the court. Next is the date and Place of previous conviction ; this statement is allowed by the court to be added at anytime before the sentence or the punishment is given.
ERROR IN FRAMING THE CHARGE:
If by mistake, there is an error in framing charges then ?
Section 215 and section 464 mention the effects of errors in stating that the offence or other particulars in the charge, and of omission to frame , or error in the charge. The object of these sections is to prevent failure of justice where there has been only technical breach of rules not going to the roots of case as such. Section 215 reads,
” No error in stating either the offence or the partculars required to be stated in the charge, and no omission to state the offence or those particulars , shall be regarded at any stage of the case as material , unless the accused was infact misled by such error or omission , and it has occasioned a failure of justice ”
illustration- A is charged with cheating B, and the manner in which he cheated B is not set out in the charge , or is set out incorrectly. A defends himself, calls witnesses and gives his own account of the transaction . The court may infer from this that the omission to set out the manner of the cheating is not material.
This section also makes it clear that insignificant irregularities in stating the particulars of the offence in the charge will not affect the trial or its outcome. In case the charge is imperfect or erroneous, the court may amend or add the existing charge under section 216.
Section 464 of the code reads ” No finding, sentence or order by a court of competent jurisdiction shall be deemed invalid merely on the ground that no charge was framed or on the ground of any error, omission or irregularity in the charge including any misjoinder of charges , unless in the opinion of the Court of Appeal , confirmation or revision , a failure of justice has infact been occasioned thereby”
In a CASE Anand Prakash v State of Haryana , the court observed that while adding or altering a charge , the trial court has to keep in view the test of Prejudice of the accused.