What is Charge? Explain Charge in Detail?

Relevant law about charge is present in
Sections No. 4(c) & 221 to 239 of Cr.P.C.

(i) Introduction:-

One basic requirement of fair trial in criminal cases is to give precise information to accused about accusation against him. Reason is that such information is considered important.for accused for preparation of his/her defence against accusation. Such precise information is given in form of charge.

(ii) Meaning:-

Charge includes any head of charge when charge contains more heads than one. In fact, charge is precise formation of specific accusation to afford accused an opportunity to prepare his/her defence against accusation.

(iii) Explanation:-

Under Criminal Procedure Code, following points are important for explanation of charge:

  1. Essentials of charge
  2. Alteration or addition of charge
  3. Trial immediately alter alteration
  4. New trial or suspension of trial
  5. Stay of proceedings
  6. Recalling of witnesses
  7. Effect of material error
  8. Quashment of conviction
  9. Separate charges for distinct offences

1. Essentials of charge:-

Followings are essentials of charge:

(i) Offence

(ii) Name of offence

(iii) Law & section of law

(iv) Written charge

(v) In case of previous conviction

(vi) Particulars about time & place of offence

(vii) Particulars about person or thing

(viii) Criminal breach of trust or dishonest misappropriation of money

(ix) Sections No. 221 & 222 of Criminal Procedure Code

(i) Offence:-

Charge should state that offence with which accused is charged.

(ii) Name of Offence:-

If law, which creates some offence, gives such offence any specific name, such offence can be described in charge by that name only.

(iii) Law & Section Of Law:-

Law and section of law against which offence is committed should be mentioned in charge.

(iv) Written Charge:-

Charge should be written either in English or in language of court.

(v) In Case Of Previous Conviction:-

In case of previous conviction of accused for affecting sentence, fact, date, and place of previous conviction should be stated in charge.

(vi) Particulars About Time & Place Of Offence:-

In charge, particulars about time and place of offence should be stated.

(vii) Particulars About Person Or Thing :-

In charge, particulars should be stated about that person against whom offence is committed or particulars should be stated about that thing in respect of which offence is committed.

(viii) Criminal Breach Of Trust Or Dishonest Misappropriation Of Money:-

When accused is charged with criminal breach of trust or dishonest misappropriation of money, it is not Only sufficient to specify that gross sum in respect of which offence is committed, but it is also sufficient to specify those dates between which offence is committed. However, time between first and last date should not exceed one year.

(ix) Sections No. 221 & 222 Of Criminal Procedure Code :-

When particulars, which have been mentioned in Sections No. 221 and 222 of Criminal Procedure Code, are insufficient to notify accused with that matter with which he/she is charged, charge should also contain particulars of that manner in which offence is committed.

2. Alteration Or Addition Of Charge :-

Court possesses power not only to alter any charge, but also to add to any charge at any time before pronouncement of judgment. However, it is necessary that such alteration or addition should be read and explained to accused.

3. Trial Immediately After Alteration :-

If court opines that alteration or addition of charge is not likely to prejudice accused in his/her defence or such alteration or addition is not likely to prejudice prosecution in conduct of case, court should treat new or altered charges as original charge.

4. New Trial Or Suspension of Trial :-

If court opines that alteration or addition of charge is likely to prejudice accused or prosecution, court can direct a new trial or adjourn trail for that period, which is necessary.

5. Stay Of Proceedings :-

If previous sanction is necessary for prosecution of new, altered or added charge, court should not proceed until such sanction is obtained.

6. Recalling Of Witnesses :-

If court alters charge or adds to charge after commencement of trail, prosecution and accused should be allowed to recall or re-examine witnesses with reference to such alteration or addition. Even they can call any further material witnesses with reference to such alteration or addition.

7. Effect of Material Error :-

If any appellate court or High Court or Session Court opines in exercise of its powers of revision or in exercise of powers about submission of sentences for confirmation that any person, who is convicted of an offence, was misled in his/her defence by absence of a charge or any error in charge by court should direct for holding of a new trail upon that charge, which is framed in that manner, which court thinks fit.

8. Quashment of Conviction :-

If facts, which are proved against accused, are such that no valid charge could be preferred, court should quash conviction.

9. Separate charges for distinct offences :-

There should be a separate charge for every distinct offence of which any person is accused, and every such charge should be tried separately. However, this principle of separate charges should not be applicable in those cases, which have been mentioned in Sections No. 234, 235, 236 and 239 of Criminal Procedure Code.

(iv) Conclusion :-

To conclude, it can be stated that court can convict accused for that offence with which he/she is not charged. However, it is essential that accused should have committed such offence.