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Defence Of Accused Cannot Be Put Forth At The Stage Of Framing Of Charges: Jharkhand High Court

Shrutika Pandey
27 Jan 2022 9:00 AM GMT
Defence Of Accused Cannot Be Put Forth At The Stage Of Framing Of Charges: Jharkhand High Court
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The Jharkhand High Court recently refused to quash criminal proceedings against a public servant, where the trial has already begun noting that at the stage of framing of charge, the defence of the accused cannot be put forth.Justice Anil Kumar Choudhary observed,"That at the stage of framing of charge the defence of the accused cannot be put forth." Further, referring to the case of...

The Jharkhand High Court recently refused to quash criminal proceedings against a public servant, where the trial has already begun noting that at the stage of framing of charge, the defence of the accused cannot be put forth.

Justice Anil Kumar Choudhary observed,

"That at the stage of framing of charge the defence of the accused cannot be put forth.

Further, referring to the case of Supdt. And Remembrancer of Legal Affairs, W.B. v. Anil Kumar Bhunja, it was held,

"At the stage of framing the charge, the truth, veracity and effect of the evidence which the prosecutor proposes to adduce are not to be meticulously judged. At this stage, even a very strong suspicion founded upon materials before the Special Judge, which leads him to form a presumptive opinion as to the existence of the factual ingredients constituting the offence alleged, may justify the framing of charge against the accused in respect of the commission of that offence."

A criminal miscellaneous petition was filed to quash criminal proceedings initiated against the petitioner under Sections 409, 420, 467, 468, 471, 477A with Section 120B of the Indian Penal Code read with Sections 13(1) (c) (d) and under Section 13(2) of the Prevention of Corruption Act, 1988.

An FIR was registered in the matter relating to the illegal allotment of tender by misuse of power by the petitioner and other co-accused. The FIR raises several doubts over not having sought approval of the cost by the Board amongst others.

After that, a charge sheet was submitted, following which the petitioner filed a discharge petition. However, the petition was rejected by the trial court. The said rejection was earlier challenged before the High Court, also dismissed. The petitioner also sought a special leave petition before the Supreme Court, which resulted in dismissal.

Advocate Prashant Bhushan representing the petitioner argued that the earlier petitions for discharge, which went up till the Supreme Court, could not placed the report by the Public Accounts Committee. The said report has observed that the delay was caused everywhere in the country, and the same could not be attributed to any officer of the State Electricity Board.

Special Public Prosecutor Priya Shreshta submitted that since the charge has already been framed and the trial of the case has begun, the petitioner can use these documents in their defence during the trial.

The State also submitted that the documents could best explain the delay part of the allegations, but that is not the only allegation against the accused. Therefore, the import and purport of the portion of the report of the Public Accounts Committee can be better appreciated in a full dress trial which has already begun, and it will not be proper at this sta ge for this court to appreciate one of the defences of the petitioner in a piecemeal manner.

The Court referred to State of Orissa v. Debendra Nath Padhi  where it was held that,

"The expression "hearing the submissions of the accused" cannot mean opportunity to file material to be granted to the accused and thereby changing the settled law. At the stage of framing of charge hearing the submissions of the accused has to be confined to the material produced by the police."

On a thorough consideration of the allegation, the Court noted that these allegations had nothing to do with the delay that occurred the allotment and the consequential escalation in price of the tender. It noted,

"that even assuming for the sake of argument that the documents filed by the petitioner are true and genuine still they not sufficient enough in themselves to absolve the petitioner from all the charges framed against him in this case."

It refused to quash the proceedings and framing of charge at this belated stage when the trial had begun.

Case Title: Pushpendra Kumar Sinha v. The State of Jharkhand

Citation: 2022 LiveLaw (Jha) 9

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