Any number of offenses submitted by a blamed individual in the course for the same exchange could be tried at one trial, and every single such offence could be made the topic of charges to be remembered for a similar charge sheet.
The standards identifying with the joinder of the charge contained in the CrPC 1973 are similarly pertinent to trial by court-military, to the extent that they are not disgusting to the arrangements of the Army Act. Any number of blamed people might be charged mutually and attempted together for an offence that is asserted to have been submitted by them by and large. This article shall examine the offences which can be tried together before the court of law.
The basic or fundamental rule of the trial is that there shall be a separate trial for separate offences with which the accused person is charged by the Magistrate. It means that if a person has committed an act which amounts to more than one offence, each offence shall be tried separately before the court.
Moreover, another fundamental rule is that separate accused should be tried separately even if the offence was committed by them together. However, the Code entails provisions when there can be the same trial for multiple offences and multiple offenders.
The fundamental thought behind the confining of charges before a trial is started is that the blamed ought to be educated in a reasonable, brief and exact way the claims which have been raised against him by the unfortunate casualty before the court. It is basic for the denounced to realize what the court means to accuse him of, which the indictment requires to demonstrate.
Offenses Triable Together
In general day to day lives, if we have been to court or have heard it at home or on any media reports, a person is always tried for all the offence together and also all the accomplices are charged and tried together with him.
Now, the question is how does it happen? How does the basic rule apply in practice? So, the answer to these questions is simple; that basic rules have so many and practical exceptions that there is hardly any situation when these fundamental rules apply. The following are the exceptions to the basic rule of charge and trial:
Application by the Accused:
The proviso to Section 218 (1) specifically allows the accused person(s) to move an application in writing to the Magistrate requesting him to try him for all the offence together at one trial. This is usually done to save time and money. When all the charges are separately tried, it takes immense time when each evidence is analyzed and every witness is examined and cross-examined.
The process is repeated for every offence and new evidence and brought every time a new trial commences. This makes it a very tiring and never-ending process. Even when the accused is innocent he has to undergo years going through the trial. Moreover, this also has an adverse impact on the pockets of the accused since he has to engage a lawyer to defend him and the longer the trial goes, the higher amount will be spent on legal services.
In criminal case, the accused is also not entitled to any kind of cost reimbursement for wrong or misunderstood trial. However, the application under Section 218 (1) cannot be processed on the request of the applicant alone.
The Magistrate must look into the effect of joinder of charges and ensure that it will not prejudice the accused and affect the integrity of the fair trial.
Three Offences of the Same Kind within a Year:
According to Section 219 CrPC, if a person is accused of commission of two or more offences which are similar in nature within a period of one year, i.e. 12 months, then he may be charged with all such offences together and tried for them together as well. This is an exception to the basic rule of separate charges for separate offences.
Under this provision, the essential requirements are:
- that the person must have been charged and prosecuted for more than one offence. It does not include investigation being carried on for another offence. It means that if the person charged and tried for theft and another offence of criminal misappropriation is being investigated. These offences cannot be joined unless the trial initiates for both offences,
- all the offences which are desired to be charged together must have been committed within a span of twelve months. It means that not more than twelve months should have passed after the commencement of trial for the first offence and before the commencement of trial for the last such offence,
- all the offences which are to be jointly charged and tried must be similar in nature.
Now, a similar offence does not mean all must be related to each or all must be sexual offence, etc. Section 219 (2) defines offence of similar nature as those for which the prescribed punishment, i.e. tenure of imprisonment and/or fine is same, offences which fall under same section or same chapter of the Indian Penal Code and offences and attempt to commit such offences are similar offences for the purpose of this section.
Offences Committed in the Same Transaction:
This is the most important and basic exception to the fundamental rule of separate charges. This exception emerges from Section 220 which provides that when a series of acts have been performed by a person and during the course of such act, several offences have been committed, the person may be charged and tried for all such offences in one single trial.
For instance, in the aforementioned example where A, B and C robbed a bank, injured a hostage and killed another, though the basic rule requires them to be charged and tried separately for distinct offence, this provision creates an exception for such circumstances.
Therefore, if the acts of the accused are such that it has been committed in the course of one single event, s/he can be charged for all the offences at once. At the point when an individual accused of at least one offence of criminal breach of trust or exploitative misappropriation of property as mentioned in sub-section (2) of section 212 or in sub-section (1) of section 219, is blamed for perpetrating, to encourage or covering the commission of that offense or those offenses, at least one offenses of misrepresentation of records, he might be accused of and attempted at one trial for, each such offense.
On the off chance that the demonstrations asserted establish an offense falling inside at least two separate meanings of any law in power until further notice by which offenses are characterized or rebuffed, the individual blamed for them might be accused of and attempted at one preliminary for, every one of such offenses.
In the event that few demonstrations, of which at least one than one would without anyone else or themselves establish an offense, comprise when consolidated an alternate offense, the individual blamed for them might be accused of, and attempted at one preliminary for the offense established by such acts when joined, and for any offense established by any, at least one, of such acts.
Where it is Doubtful What Offence has been Committed:
There can be circumstances where it becomes ambiguous as to what offence has been committed by the accused because of the similar nature of the acts. For instance, when the act may seem to be criminal breach of trust or criminal misappropriation of property or theft, the exception states that the person alleged to have committed either or any of these offences, may be charged with any one or all of the offences and tried for them together at the discretion of the Magistrate.
This has been contemplated by Section 221 of the Code which empowers the Magistrate to charge in alternative or for all the offence that appears to be committed by the person. Moreover, the second clause also provides a remedy in case the actual offence committed by the person is completely distinct than the ones with which he was charged. It empowers the Magistrate to try and convict the person for the offence which has been brought out by evidence even though he is not charged for the same.
Where Two or More Persons can be Charged Jointly:
As already asserted above, it is another basic rule of charge and trial that every person should be charged separately and tried severally. Section 223 makes an exception to this rule under which provision two or more person can be charged and tried together for the same or distinct offences as the case may be. According to the section, the person can be charged and tried jointly in the following circumstances or situations:
- Where two or more persons commit the same crime while in the same process or same course of action such as A and B together killed C by strangling him to death.
- Where two or more persons have together committed an offence such that one is the main culprit while others have attempted or abetted the commission of the offence such as A and B plan to rob a bank. A went inside and B waited outside in a car to drive them back.
- Where two or more offences which are of similar nature as expounded under Section 219 are committed by two or more person before the expiry of a period of twelve months.
- Where two or more persons plan to commit a certain crime and take part in the commission of the offence but the distinct offence is committed by them. For instance, A and B plan to kill C but B backs out of the plan last moment and A executes it alone but B commits the offence of giving false evidence to the police.
- Where the offence charged includes offences against property, the person(s) who steal the articles or property and those who receive the stolen goods knowing it to be stolen can be charged and tried together.
- Where two or more persons are accused of any offence or offences which fall under offences related to stamps and counterfeit coins, they can be charged and tried together.
Effect on Jurisdiction in Joint Trial
The spot of trial for offenses which are triable together comprises of two conditions.
- At the point when an individual submits offenses, to such an extent that he might be accused of, attempted at one trial for, each such offense as per the arrangements of section 219, section 220 or section 221.
- At the point when the offence or offences have been submitted by a few people, in a way that the Court may charge and attempt them together, as per the arrangements of section 223.
In both of the conditions, the Court which is equipped to ask and attempt shall do likewise.
- Ratanlal & Dhirajlal, Commentary on the Code of Criminal Procedure (18th ed. 2006).
- V. Kelkar, Lectures on Criminal Law (8th ed. 2016).
- D. Basu, Criminal Procedure (6th ed. 2014).