Anant Sinha vs. State of Haryana
In The Supreme Court of India
Criminal Appellate Jurisdiction
Criminal Appeal No. 131 Of 2016
(@S.L. P(Criminal) No. 837 Of 2016)
Dipak Misra, J.
The appellant is married to his wife for over a decade. The appellant and his mother physically assaulted the wife as she resisted upon getting a mutual divorce. All the allegations had a foundation in demand of dowry and non- meeting of the same by the family members of the wife. Therefore, she filed a complaint about the offences under section 498A/323/34 of IPC against the appellant. After due investigation, the prosecution agency placed the charge-sheet alone against the husband under 498A & 323 IPC. While the matter was still pending before the Magistrate, the wife added another additional charge under sec. 406 IPC against the husband & mother-in-law. This additional charge was with regards to the misappropriation of the entire stridhan and other articles, wherein the accused persons had committed the breach of trust, but no charge-sheet was filed in respect of the said offence. The magistrate came to hold in view of the said offence during an investigation and allowed the application under sec. 216 CrPC against the accused. The order passed by the Magistrate now came forward in the Criminal Revision where it was contended that the mother-in-law was not charge-sheeted by the police but the Trial Court had directed to frame the charges against her. Also, there was no material in the first place to make out under sec. 406 IPC. Therefore, the revision court held the framing of charge against mother-in-law was unsustainable but the framing of additional charge against the husband could not be faulted. Now, the order was called in question by the husband by preferring a petition at the High Court under sec. 482 CrPC. The High Court opined that the court can exercise alteration or modification of charge on the basis of the material before the court hence, the order passed by the Trial Court did not justify any interference.
- Can another charge be added and altered without evidence being adduced?
- Is an application filed for an additional charge by the informant in this case considered to be competent?
The Appellant’s side:
The Counsel for the appellant stated that the High Court would have been well within the domain of its jurisdiction in the exercise of power in setting aside the orders passed by the court, as the Magistrate has no power to alter or to modify the charge on the basis of an application filed by the informant. However, the Trial Court could have altered the charge if some evidence had come on record but not on the basis of the material that was already on the record. The charges couldn’t have been added on the basis of an application filed by the informant as such an application requires to be filed only by the Public Prosecutor.
The respondent’s side:
The Counsel for the state marked that there is no prohibition on alteration or adding of charges prior to the recording of the evidence if the court is moved for the said purpose and it is satisfied that charge framed by it deserves to be added or altered. However, he further mentioned on that a Magistrate has the jurisdiction to rectify the mistake by adding or altering the charge and also can set the motion if the application is either filed by the prosecutor or by the informant. It is just to bring the facts to his notice and in any way, that wouldn’t invalidate the order.
Approach of the Supreme Court:
As the controversy was raised on two problems, firstly of alteration or adding charges, the Supreme Court made reference to a judgment. stating that there is a scope of alteration of the charge during the trial on the basis of materials brought on record. Hence, whenever such alterations or additions are made, the same is to be read out and informed to the accused. Therefore, it was marked that the court can alter or change the charge if there is a defect in something that is left out. However, it must be available on record. It can be on the basis of a complaint, FIR, documents or material brought on record during trial. And it can be done at any time before pronouncement of the judgment. Therefore, it has the authority to alter and jurisdiction to add a charge. Everything needs to be done on the basis of evidence, and cannot be understood unless the evidence has been let in. With regards to the filing of application, the Court stated that the case doesn’t pertain to the trial by which a private lawyer takes proceedings hence, the application was filed by the informant in order to bring notice about the criminal breach of trust, hence, the court found no fault in filing the application by the informant.
The Court did not found any error in revised order by which has been set aside the charge framed against the mother-in-law. The order passed by the High Court in expressing the disinclination to interfere with the revised orders passes have been affirmed by the Supreme Court. Therefore, the Court has directed the Magistrate to proceed with the trial and decide the matter according to the evidence brought on record. Therefore, the appeal stands dismissed as it is devoid of merit.