14 Feb 2010

Discharge under Cr PC: The law revisited

Dealing with the principles relating to the discharge of an accused even before the commencement of the trail, the Supreme Court in a recent decision enunciated the relevant ingredients for the application of the provision. The Supreme Court examined the earlier cases on the issue to declare the law as; 
If two views are possible and one of them gives rise to suspicion only, as distinguished from grave suspicion, the Trial Judge will be empowered to discharge the accused and at this stage he is not to see whether the trial will end in conviction or acquittal. Further, the words “not sufficient ground for proceeding against the accused” clearly show that the Judge is not a mere Post Office to frame the charge at the behest of the prosecution, but has to exercise his judicial mind to the facts of the case in order to determine whether a case for trial has been made out by the prosecution. In assessing this fact, it is not necessary for the Court to enter into the pros and cons of the matter or into a weighing and balancing of evidence and probabilities which is really the function of the Court, after the trial starts. At the stage of Section 227, the Judge has merely to sift the evidence in order to find out whether or not there is sufficient ground for proceeding against the accused. In other words, the sufficiency of ground would take within its fold the nature of the evidence recorded by the police or the documents produced before the Court which ex facie disclose that there are suspicious circumstances against the accused so as to frame a charge against him.
Section 227 provides as under;
227. Discharge.—If, upon consideration of the record of the case and the documents submitted therewith, and after hearing the submissions of the accused and the prosecution in this behalf, the Judge considers that there is not sufficient ground for proceeding against the accused, he shall discharge the accused and record his reasons for so doing.
On this issue, the Supreme Court also observed;
21) As discussed earlier, Section 227 in the new Code confers special power on the Judge to discharge an accused at the threshold if upon consideration of the records and documents, he find that “there is not sufficient ground” for proceeding against the accused. In other words, his consideration of the record and document at that stage is for the limited purpose of ascertaining whether or not there is sufficient ground for proceeding against the accused. If the Judge comes to a conclusion that there is sufficient ground to proceed, he will frame a charge under Section 228, if not, he will discharge the accused. This provision was introduced in the Code to avoid wastage of public time which did not disclose a prima facie case and to save the accused from avoidable harassment and expenditure. 
22) In the case on hand, though, the learned Trial Judge has not assigned detailed reasons for dismissing the discharge petition filed under Section 227, it is clear from his order that after consideration of the relevant materials charge had been framed for offence under Section 302 read with Section 34 IPC and because of the same, he dismissed the discharge petition. After evaluating the materials produced by the prosecution and after considering the probability of the case, the Judge being satisfied by the existence of sufficient grounds against the appellant and another accused framed a charge. Whether the materials at the hands of the prosecution are sufficient or not are matters for trial. At this stage, it cannot be claimed that there is no sufficient ground for proceeding against the appellant and discharge is the only remedy. Further, whether the trial will end in conviction or acquittal is also immaterial.
Have a look at the decision.

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