One basic requirement of fair trial in criminal cases is to give precise information to accused about accusation against him. Reason is that such information is considered important for accused for preparation of his defense against accusation. Such precise information is given in form of charge.
2. Relevant Provisions
Section 221, 222, 223, 227, 228, 229, 230, 237, 238 of Criminal Procedure Code.
3. Meaning of Charge
Charge is an accusation; a charge to a jury is the address of the presiding judge with regard to the duties of the jury.
4. Framing of Charge
The court shall frame the charge in form whether he committed such offence as alleged in the F.I.R. On framing the charge, if accused denies, the court records his denial in writing and proceeds for trail.
5. Particulars / Contents / Essentials of a Charge
A charge must contain the following particulars
i. Offence to be stated: Sec 221(1)
In a charge sheet the offence must be stated, so that the accused may defend him.
ii. Description of Offence by Name: Sec 222 (2)
The Charge should give a description of offence by name which is given by that the creates an offence.
iii. Definition of offence: Sec 222 (3)
Where the criminal law does not give any specific name to offence than a definition of the offence must be stated.
iv. Law or Section of Law
A charge must be containing the law or the section of the law against which the offence is alleged to have been committed.
v. Compliance with substantive Requirements of offence
The charge must fulfill the requirements of offence i.e, that it must not come within the exceptions, or if it comes, then it must be mention in it.
vi. Language of the Charge
The charge shall be framed in English or in the Court’s language or in the language understandable by an accused.
vii. Previous conviction of the accused
Where the accused is liable to enhanced punishment on account of his previous conviction and such previous conviction has to be proved, such charge shall state the fact, date and place of the previous conviction.
viii. Particulars as to time Place and Person
In is necessary that charge should contain Time of offence, Place of offence, Person against whom offence was committed and Thing against whom offence was committed.
ix. Particulars of the Manner of the alleged offence
Where the particulars above are not sufficient to give notice of the offence with which the accused is charged, the charge shall also contain the particulars of the manner in which the alleged offence was committed.
x. Thing is Respect of which offence was committed
A charge should state the property in respect of which not is said to have been taken place, e.g., where an offence is committed under Arms Ordinance, details of the arms recovered from the house of the accused must be stated in the charge.
6. Purpose of Framing of Charge
Followings points are important for explanation of purpose of Framing of charge
i. Precise and Concise Statement about offence
Object of charge is to give accused precise and concise statement about the offence which is charged against him.
ii. Proof against Accused
Charge is to convey to accuse with possible and sufficient clearness and certainty what prosecution is to prove against him.
iii. Prosecution of case
Purpose of charge is to inform accused about the case, which he is going to be prosecuted.
iv. Defense against case
Charge is to enable accused to concentrate on his defense against that case, which is bring tried against him in court.
v. No Prejudice against Accused
Object of charge is that there should be no prejudice against accused during trial before court.
vi. Certain and Accurate Information
Charge is to deliver accused certain and accurate information about that offence against which accused is being tried.
vii. Knowledge about Substantive Charge
Purpose of charge is to make accused known to substantive charge and is to make him prepared for such charge before production of evidence.
viii. Knowledge about case
Charge is to give knowledge to accused about that case, which is being brought against him and which is being tried in court.
7. When can Charge be changed & altered / Amendment?
At any time before pronouncement of judgment, charge can be altered or added. However, it is essential that charge can only be altered on justification on basis of material on record, and that every such alteration or addition should be read and explained to accused.
To conclude, it can be stated that court can convict accused for that offence with which he is not charged, but he should have committed such offence. However, if charged is framed is such a vague manner that essentials of offence with which accused is convicted is not brought out in charge, charge is then considered defective.