[This paper was presented at a One day National Seminar on Access to Criminal & Correctional Justice for Marginalized in Contemporary Indian Context organized by Tata institute of Social Sciences, Mumbai along with Maharashtra Human Rights Commission and International Justice Mission on 28th January, 2018]
Charge literally can be defined as a formal accusation made against someone who has committed an offence. Chapter XVII to XIX of The Code of Criminal Procedure, 1973 discusses about charges. Charge is the main elements of any trial because trial is started when prosecutor open the cases by describing the charge to the accused person and asked if he pleads guilty or not. If the Judge considers that there are no sufficient grounds for proceedings then he discharges the accused person with reason recorded. If the Judge is of the opinion that there is ground for presuming the accused committed an offense then the charge is framed. After the arguments when proper evidence is submitted before the court for either to prove or disprove the charge Judge either convict or acquit the accused from the charge. If any delay occur for framing of charges it will not only hampers the right to access justice of under trial prisoners but also for the administration of Justice. Botched up investigation and time consuming enquiry ensures delay in framing of charges and due to it important evidence either get destroyed or misplaced; make it more difficult for the court to come into any conclusion. So trial goes lengthy for years. This research is an effort to make visible how framing of charges by law enforcement authority has impact on administration of justice and speedy trial.
Charge is accusation framed after an investigation by enforcement authority and then trial is held by Court of Law. Now the question is how and why in this article I put the title “Framing of Charges: Role of Law Enforcement Authority for Speedy Trial and Access to Justice.” Framing of charge does really have any connection with speedy trial and access to justice? Framing of charge and preparation of charge sheet is the foundation of every criminal trial. Charge is a written format to tell the accused the accusation for which is to be tried in Court of law.
We know that how botched up investigation leads to framing a false charge and throw the under trials or some innocent to the darkness of uncertainty. It is a bitter truth that sometimes influential people by their monetary power and strong influence for fulfilling personal gain used to lodge false complaint and cases; law enforcement authority either in temptation of gaining any advantage or forced to entertain them by framing such charge and by such time where it become impossible for the accused person to collect evidence for its defence. For personal grudge or for political arithmetic equation it is a dangerous trend by instituting any criminal proceeding or falsely charges any person. Sometimes unreasonable delay in lodging F.I.R and framing charges hamper the very purpose of Justice. Section 167 of Code of Criminal Procedure said accused may get bail if charge sheet is not filed within 90 days for the offence punishable with death, imprisonment for life or imprisonment for a term of not less than ten years or within 60 days for any other offence. Though there is no provision in CrPC of any obligation for filing the charge sheet in certain time period. The accused if unfairly victimised or if victim against whom the offence is committed both will suffer a lot if unnecessary delay in framing of charges occur. Not only in serious case but also proving or disproving anyone’s guilt the necessity of collecting proper evidence cannot be possible if delay occurs. That’s why “Prompt lodging of information of commission of cognizable offence at the first available opportunity is supposed to be true version without any addition, embellishment and concoction. The chances of missing links outside influence after thought and additions are removed, where the memory is fresh and information is given without any loss of time.” The purpose my research is to find how framing of charges is important and has great impact on administration and access of Justice.