Updated: May 20, 2020
Section 2 (b) of the Code of Criminal Procedure, 1973 defines ‘charge’- According to this provision, the charge includes any head of the charge when there are more heads than one.
The term ‘charge’ in criminal law means- the offense or allegations that have been put upon the person or we can also say- a person formally accused of something, an offence under the law.
Purpose of Charge
The purpose of charge was drawn up from the case V.C. Shukla v. State it was observed that the purpose of charge was to give the exact and precise knowledge of the offence to the accused that he has been charged with this matter and has to prepare for this in his defence.
Contents of Charge
Section-211 of the Code of Criminal Procedure, 1973 defines the contents of charge:-
(1) Every charge under this Code shall state the offence with which the accused is charged.
(2) If the law which creates the offence gives it any specific name, the offence could also be described within the charge by that name only.
(3) If the law which creates the offence doesn’t provide it any specific name most of the definition of the offence must be stated to give the accused notice of the matter with which he’s charged.
(4) The law and section of the law against which the offence is claimed to has been committed shall be mentioned within the charge.
(5) the actual fact that the charge is formed is similar to an announcement that each legal condition required by law to constitute the offence charged was fulfilled within the particular case.
(6) The charge shall be written within the language of the Court.
(7) If the accused, having been previously convicted of any offence, is liable, by reason of such previous conviction, to enhanced punishment, or to the punishment of a unique kind, for a subsequent offence, and it’s intended to prove such previous conviction for the aim of affecting the punishment which the Court might imagine fit award for the next offence, the actual fact date, and place of the previous, the conviction shall be stated within the charge; and if such statement has been omitted, the Court may add it at any time before sentence is passed.
The charge should contain the following things:-
- Description of offence
- Title of offence
- If no title of offence, then matter to be stated for what he is charged off.
- The related law and section of the offence mentioned in the charge.
- Every essential condition was fulfilled to make the offence charged.
- The language of charge in court language.
Particular as to time, place and person
The charge should mention the time, place and person (if any) of the alleged offence, against whom it was committed, as are reasonably sufficient to give the accused notice of the matter with which he is charged.
Manner of committing offence be stated
When the nature of the case is such the particulars mentioned in sections 211 and 212 don’t give the accused sufficient notice of the matter with which he is charged, the charge shall also contain such particulars of the way in which the alleged offence was committed as are going to be sufficient for that purpose.
Words in charge taken in sense of law under which offense is punishable
(Section-214) In every charge word used is describing an offence shall be deemed to have been used in the sense attached to them respectively by the law under which such offence is punishable.
Errors and effect of errors in a Charge
(Section-215) No error in stating either the offence or the particulars 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 actually misled by such error or omission, and it’s occasioned a failure of justice.
If anything that is required to be mentioned in the charge and it is not mentioned due to some default, this causes an error in the charge. Any error in the charge shall not vitiate the trial or affect the proceeding in any manner.