Charge under Cr.P.C.


Section 2(b) of the Criminal Procedure Code defines charge as any head of a charge when the charge contains more heads than one. 

The legal definition mentioned in the code is not inclusive enough for a layman to decipher. However, the definition could simply be interpreted to mean as an “accusation”. It is the concrete accusation as recognised by the Magistrate or the Court, based on the prima facie evidence adduced against the accused.

Purpose of Charge

Under the Code of Criminal Procedure, an accused should be informed of the offence of which he is charged. The basic purpose of the charge is to let the accused know of the offence that he is charged with so that he can prepare his defence. The accused should be informed of the charge against him at the very beginning. Every accused has the right to know what the prosecution has against him.

The underlying principle of the criminal law on informing the accused of the charge against him is to provide an equal opportunity to each and every individual to prepare his defence and avail justice. It must be noted that in case of serious offences, the statute requires the charge to be reduced to writing precisely and clearly and must be read to the accused and explained with precision and clarity.

Types of Cases where Charge can be framed:

In the following types of cases the charges are framed under the Criminal Procedure Code:

  • Sessions cases under Section 228 of the Code;
  • Warrant cases instituted on police reports under Section 240 of the Code;
  • Warrant cases instituted otherwise on police report under Section 246(1) of the Code.

Contents of Charge:

According to Section 211 of the Criminal Procedure Code, every charge under the code shall include the following:

  • The offence with which the accused is charged;
  • If any law gives the offence any specific name, then the description of that charge by that name only;
  • The definition of the offence, under the law that does not give any specific name to the offence, so as to give notice of the matter to the accused of which he is charged;
  • The law and the section of the law against which the offence is said to have been committed.

According to Section 212 of the Code, in order to give sufficient notice of the matter to the accused of which he is charged, then the charge shall contain the following components:

  • Time and place of the alleged offence;
  • The person (if any) against whom the offence was committed;
  • The thing (if any) in respect of which the offence was committed by the accused.

When Court Can Alter or Amend a Charge

Section 216 states the conditions under which the Court can alter or amend or add to any charge:

  • Before the judgement is pronounced, the Court can alter or amend any charge;
  • Such alteration or addition has to be read and explained to the accused;
  • If in the opinion of the Court, the addition or alteration to the charge does not prejudice the accused in his defence or the prosecutor in the conduct of his case, then the Court may alter or amend the charge and proceed with the trial according to its discretion;
  • But if the Court is of the opinion that the alteration or addition to the charge is likely to prejudice the accused or the prosecutor as aforesaid, then following the alteration or amendment, the Court may, at its discretion either direct a new trial or adjourn the trial for such period as it may consider necessary;
  • If the previous sanction is necessary to be obtained for the prosecution of the offence stated in the altered or added charge, then the Court shall not proceed with the case until such sanction is obtained.

by Rajat malhotra@lexcliq







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