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The Supreme Court on Tuesday reiterated that detailed reasons are not required to be recorded by the judge at the stage of framing of charges in a criminal trial under Section 228 of the Code of Criminal Procedure (CrPC).
The Bench of Justices R Banumathi, AS Bopanna, and Hrishikesh Roy further held that only a prima facie case is needed to be considered at this point, and that the law does not require for an elaborate inquiry under Section 228 CrPC. The judgment states,
“For framing the charges under Section 228 Crl.P.C., the judge is not required to record detailed reasons. As pointed out earlier, at the stage of framing the charge, the court is not required to hold an elaborate enquiry; only prima facie case is to be seen.”
This judgment was delivered in an appeal against a decision of the Madhya Pradesh High Court, which had quashed the charges against accused persons on the ground that the trial court failed to apply its judicial mind while framing of charges. The High Court had held that the trial court ought to apply its mind while framing charges and must give concise reasons for the charges framed. This order was challenged by the complainant-appellant before the Supreme Court.
The Supreme Court, while dealing with the issue at hand, delved into the scope of Sections 226, 227, and 228 of the CrPC. While Section 226 of the Code provides for opening of the criminal case by the public prosecutor, Section 227 provides for discharging of the accused persons if there are insufficient grounds to proceed against them.
The judge may proceed with framing the charges against an accused under Section 228 if, after perusal of the records and documents, there is prima facie reason to presume that a triable offence may have been committed by the accused. The judge is not required to record his reasons for framing of charges, the Supreme Court observed, placing reliance on the precedents laid down in this regard. The Court said,
“On perusal of record and hearing of parties, if the judge is of the opinion that there is sufficient ground for presuming that the accused has committed the offence triable by the Court of Session, he shall frame the charge against the accused for such offence.”
The Bench, therefore, found the High Court’s decision liable to be set aside and reinstated the charges framed against the accused persons in the instant case.
[Read the judgment]