Importance of Charge-sheet in a Criminal Trial

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A charge sheet is a final report prepared by the investigation or law enforcement agencies for proving the accusation of a crime in a criminal court of law. The report is submitted by the police officer to prove that the accused is connected with any offense or has committed any offense punishable under any penal statute affecting India. The report entails and embodies all the stringent records right from the commencement of the investigation procedure of lodging an FIR till the completion of the investigation and preparation of the final report.

An investigation report as contemplated under section 173, CrPC which is indispensable in its terms. By exercising power under chapter XII, CrPC materials regarding the investigation are to be collected, to form the premise of the report investigation is to be collected, to form the premise of the report and this is a continuous process which starts with the assemblage of evidence procured in pursuance to the exercise of power under section 156 and concludes with the submission of the report under section 173. This report which is commonly termed as charge sheet or challan is the final report submitted by the investigating officer to a competent magistrate, after completion of his investigation. It refers to a formal police record showing the names of each person brought into custody, the nature of the accusations, and the identity of the accusers. It is also known as four-part charging instrument containing:
• Information about the accused and the witnesses
• The charges and specification;
• The preferring of charges and their referral to a summary
• For the trial record

A charge sheet is distinct from the first information report (FIR), which is the core document that describes a crime that has been committed. F.I.R means any information recorded by an on-duty officer given by an aggrieved person or any other person either in writing or made orally about the commission of a cognizable offense. Based on information so provided the investigation started. F.I.R can also be registered by the judicial magistrate by giving the direction to the concerned jurisdictional area of the police station. Charge sheet usually refers to one or more FIRs and charges an individual or organization for (some or all of) the crimes specified in those FIRs. Once the charge sheet has been submitted to the court of law, prosecution against the accused begins in the judicial system. According to section 173 of CrPC which talks about the Report of a police officer on completion of investigation every investigation under this chapter shall be completed without unnecessary delay.

The following has to be stated in such a police report-
1. Name of the parties
2. Nature of information
3. Names of the person who seem to be familiar with the situation of the case
4. Whether any crime seems to have been committed and, if so, by whom
5. Whether the accused has been arrested
6. Whether he has been sent to the custody in compliance with section 170.

Section 173 mandates that a report ought to be prepared in case of a non-cognizable offense even if the magistrate has not directed the preparation of such a report after the magistrate commands the police to investigate a non-cognizable offense under section 156. The case cannot be disposed of without obtaining the order of the magistrate. However, the police receive information of a cognizable offense that cannot be disentitled from investigating any non-cognizable offense which may emanate out of the facts. He can include these latter findings in the final report under section 173.

According to section 173 investigation must be completed without bogging down the process unnecessarily and that as soon as the report is prepared, the investigation officer must forward it to the magistrate. Further, if the officer discovers any of the facts to be false, he is not obligated to file a charge sheet. Far instance if the officer upon conducting investigation finds out that the injuries were administered in pursuance of the right of private defense, it is not an imperative duty of the officer to file a charge sheet. Also, an incomplete charge sheet cannot be considered to be a police report at all as dwelled on under section 173 (2), to authorize the magistrate to take cognizance of the offense.

The code of criminal procedure instructs that, the authority to ascertain as to whether a case is made out against or not rests with the police officer conducting the investigation. The magistrate cannot compel the police officer to change their view to comply with his opinion. Additionally, after to change the magistrate has once conceded to the final report he cannot take cognizance of an offense on a complaint on the same facts constituting the offense since that will produce two inconsonant judicial orders. After the completion of the investigation when the report of the commission of offense has been made to the magistrate, he is not entitled either under section 159 or section 202 to make an additional enquiring concerning the same matter or ask the police to make such inquiries.

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Is there any time bar for filing a charge-sheet?
The time limit to the file charge sheet is related to the arrest of the accused in the case. The charge sheet is to be filed within 60 days from the date of arrest of the accused in cases trial by lower courts and 90 days in cases trial by court odd session. For instance: FIR is filed against a person A. but that person could not be traced and arrested for many or even years for the offense of murder. The investigation is closed after best efforts fail to trace the accused within a couple of months, his name is kept on the wanted accused register. Say, he is traced and arrested after two years after filing the FIR against him. Then the limit comes into play. The charge sheet has to be filed as stated above as the case may be.

PROCEDURE TO FILE CHARGE SHEET
1. Filling of first information report
Section 154 (i) mandates an officer in charge of a police station to record any information he receives in written form if it is apparent or is revealed that the crime committed qualifies as a cognizable offense. However, in case of a cognizable offense, the information is recorded in a book dedicated to that purpose and the police officer until such orders are received. After such orders are received the police officer may exercise his power to investigate except for the fact that he cannot exercise his power to arrest without warrant.

2. Initiation of Investigation: cognizable offense
In case of a cognizable offense, an officer-in-charge may begin the investigation without the magistrate’s order. If prima facie the commission of a cognizable offense is revealed then the police officer must prepare a police report or commonly by him or his competent subordinated. The magistrate is then entitled to take cognizance of the case.

3. Initiation of Investigation: non-cognizable offense
In case of a non-cognizable offense, the officer under section 155 (1) must refer the informant to the magistrate with proper jurisdiction and further initiate investigation according to the order of the magistrate. Further, a report by a police officer after an investigation opposed to section 155 (2) could be deemed to be a complaint under section 2 (d) and section 190(1) (a) of the code subject to the condition that at the inception of the investigation the concerned police officer is led to surmise that the case involved commission of a cognizable offense or if there is any suspicion regarding the same and on the investigation, it is discovered that the case involves the commission of a non-cognizable offense. However, the report cannot be treated as a complaint under section 2(h) or section 190 (1) (a) of the code, if the police at the commencement of investigation had known that the case involved the commission of a non-cognizable offense.

In the case of kunhumuhammed vs. the state of Kerela 1981 Cri LJ 356 laid down the following rule:
Whenever a report of a police officer relating to a non-cognizable offense is brought to the notice of a magistrate he has to look into the matter and apply his judicial mind and find out whether (a) it is a case where reinvestigation has to be ordered under section 202 of the code or (b) whether it could be treated as a complaint under section 2(h) and section 190(1) (a) of the code and if so cognizance could be taken, (c) or whether it is a case where the report cannot be treated as a complaint under section 2(a) and section 190(1)(a) of the code or (d) it is a fit case for taking cognizance taking into consideration all the attendant circumstances

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