The Supreme Court observed that defence on merits is not to be considered at the stage of framing of the charge and/or at the stage of discharge application.
At the stage of framing of the charge and/or considering the discharge application, the mini trial is not permissible, the bench comprising Justices DY Chandrachud and MR Shah said.
In this case, the Special Court, considering the material on record which included the transcript of conversation recorded between the complainant and the accused and considering the other material on record found that there is a prima facie case made out. The court added that the defence of the accused is not to be considered at this stage, and framed the charge against the accused for the offence under Section 7 of the Prevention of Corruption Act.
The Rajasthan High Court, allowing a revision petition, discharged the accused of the alleged offence under Section 7 of the Prevention of Corruption Act. In appeal before the Supreme Court, the state contended that the High Court has committed a grave error in evaluating the transcript/evidence on merits which at the stage of considering the application for discharge is not permissible.
The bench noted that while discharging the accused, the High Court has gone into the merits of the case and has considered whether on the basis of the material on record, the accused is likely to be convicted or not. The High Court has considered in detail the transcript of the conversation between the complainant and the accused which exercise at this stage to consider the discharge application and/or framing of the charge is not permissible at all, the bench added.
"The High Court was required to consider whether a prima facie case has been made out or not and whether the accused is required to be further tried or not. At the stage of framing of the charge and/or considering the discharge application, the mini trial is not permissible. At this stage, it is to be noted that even as per Section 7 of the PC Act, even an attempt constitutes an offence. Therefore, the High Court has erred and/or exceeded in virtually holding a mini trial at the stage of discharge application.. We are not further entering into the merits of the case and/or merits of the transcript as the same is required to be considered at the time of trial. Defence on merits is not to be considered at the stage of framing of the charge and/or at the stage of discharge application." the court observed while upholding the Special Court order framing charges against the accused.
Case: State of Rajasthan vs. Ashok Kumar Kashyap [CrA 407 OF 2021]
Coram: Justices DY Chandrachud and MR Shah
Counsel: Adv Vishal Meghwal
Citation: LL 2021 SC 210