Sec 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.
P.Vijayan vs State Of Kerala & Anr1.
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.
SCOPE OF Section 227, Cr.P.C., 1973.
⇒ State of Bihar vs. Ramesh Singh2 (Single Bench)
Strong suspicion against the accused, if the matter remains in the region of suspicion, cannot take the place of proof of his guilt at the conclusion of the trial. But at the initial stage if there is a strong suspicion which leads the Court to think that there is ground for presuming that the accused has committed an offence then it is not open to the Court to say that there is no sufficient ground for proceeding against the accused. The presumption of the guilt of the accused which is to be drawn at the initial stage is not in the sense of the law governing the trial of criminal cases in France where the accused is presumed to be guilty unless the contrary is proved. But it is only for the purpose of deciding prima facie whether the Court should proceed with the trial or not. If the evidence which the Prosecutor proposes to adduce to prove the guilt of the accused even if fully accepted before it is challenged in cross-examination or rebutted by the defence evidence, if any, cannot show that the accused committed the offence, then there will be no sufficient ground for proceeding with the trial.
HELD: strong suspicion may not take the place of the proof at the trial stage, yet it may be sufficient for the satisfaction of the Trial Judge in order to frame a charge against the accused.
⇒ Union of India vs. Prafulla Kumar Samal3 (Doubel Bench).
The Apex court enunciated the following 4 principles:
That the Judge while considering the question of framing the charges under Section 227 of the Code has the undoubted power to sift and weigh the evidence for the limited purpose of finding out whether or not a prima facie case against the accused has been made out.
Where the materials placed before the Court disclose grave suspicion against the accused which has not been properly explained the Court will be fully justified in framing a charge and proceeding with the trial.
The test to determine a prima facie case would naturally depend upon the facts of each case and it is difficult to lay down a rule of universal application. By and large however if two views are equally possible and the Judge is satisfied that the evidence produced before him while giving rise to some suspicion but not grave suspicion against the accused, he will be fully within his right to discharge the accused.
That in exercising his jurisdiction under Section 227 of the Code the Judge which under the present Code is a senior and experienced court cannot act merely as a Post Office or a mouthpiece of the prosecution, but has to consider the broad probabilities of the case, the total effect of the evidence and the documents produced before the Court, any basic infirmities appearing in the case and so on. However, this does not mean that the Judge should make a roving enquiry into the pros and cons of the matter and weigh the evidence as if he was conducting a trial.
⇒ Soma Chakravarty vs. State through CBI4 (Single Bench)
The Supreme Court of India held that if on the basis of material on record the Court could form an opinion that the accused might have committed offence it can frame the charge, though for conviction the conclusion is required to be proved beyond reasonable doubt that the accused has committed the offence.
At the time of framing of the charges the probative value of the material on record cannot be gone into, and the material brought on record by the prosecution has to be accepted as true. Before framing a charge the court must apply its judicial mind on the material placed on record and must be satisfied that the commission of offence by the accused was possible (possibility of commission of the offence). Whether, in fact, the accused committed the offence, can only be decided in the trial. Charge may although be directed to be framed when there exists a strong suspicion but it is also trite that the Court must come to a prima facie finding that there exist some materials therefor. Suspicion alone, without anything more, cannot form the basis therefor or held to be sufficient for framing charge.
- AIR 2010 SC 663.
- (1977) 4 SCC 39.
- (1979) 3 SCC 4.
- (2007) 5 SCC 403.
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