Question: For every distinct offence of which any person is accused, there shall be a separate charge, and every such charge shall be tried separately. State the exceptions to this rule, if any. [UPCJ 2015] Find the answer only on Legal Bites. [For every distinct offence of which any person is accused, there shall be a separate charge,… Read More »

Question: For every distinct offence of which any person is accused, there shall be a separate charge, and every such charge shall be tried separately. State the exceptions to this rule, if any. [UPCJ 2015] Find the answer only on Legal Bites. [For every distinct offence of which any person is accused, there shall be a separate charge, and every such charge shall be tried separately. State the exceptions to this rule, if any.] Answer Section 218 of the Code of Criminal Procedure envisages...

Question: For every distinct offence of which any person is accused, there shall be a separate charge, and every such charge shall be tried separately. State the exceptions to this rule, if any. [UPCJ 2015]

Find the answer only on Legal Bites. [For every distinct offence of which any person is accused, there shall be a separate charge, and every such charge shall be tried separately. State the exceptions to this rule, if any.]

Answer

Section 218 of the Code of Criminal Procedure envisages the legal position of separate charges for distinct offences. It runs as under:

(1) For every distinct offence of which any person is accused there shall be a separate charge, and every such charge shall be tried separately:

Provided that where the accused person, by an application in writing, so desires and the Magistrate is of opinion that such person is not likely to be prejudiced thereby, the Magistrate may try together all or any number of the charges framed against such person.

(2) Nothing in sub-section (1) shall affect the operation of the provisions of Sections 219, 220, 221 and 223.

The basic rule regarding charge is that for every distinct offence there shall be a separate charge & for every such charge there shall be a separate trial. The only exceptions recognized are contained in Sections 219, 220, 221 & 223 of CrPC. Therefore separate trial is the rule and a joint trial is an exception.

For example, A is accused of theft on one occasion, and of causing grievous hurt on another occasion. A must be separately charged and separately tried for the theft and causing grievous hurt.

The sections containing the exceptions are only enabling provisions. A court has got the discretion to order a separate trial even though the case is covered by one of the exceptions enabling a joint trial. A joint trial of a very large number of charges is very much to be deprecated even though it is not prohibited by law. A separate trial is always desirable whenever there is the risk of prejudice against the accused in a joint trial.

The Supreme Court in the case of Ranchhod Lal v. the State of MP, AIR 1965 SC 1248 has taken the view that it is the option of the court whether to resort to Section 219,220 & 223 of the Code or whether to act as laid down in Section 218 and that the accused has no right to claim joinder of charges or of offenders.

Exceptions to the Basic Rule

In general day to day life, 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 offences 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; basic rules have so many practical exceptions that there is hardly any situation when these fundamental rules do not apply. The following are the exceptions to the basic rule of charge and trial:

1. Application by the Accused

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 offences 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 piece of evidence to be analyzed and every witness to be 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 a 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 at the request of the applicant alone. The Magistrate must look into the effect of the joinder of charges and ensure that it will not prejudice the accused and affect the integrity of the fair trial.

2. 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:

(i) that the person must have been charged and prosecuted for more than one offence. It does not include an 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, (ii) 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, (iii)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 offences, etc. Section 219 (2) defines offences of similar nature as those for which the prescribed punishment, i.e. tenure of imprisonment and/or fine is the same, offences which fall under the 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.

3. 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 offence or those offences, at least one offences of misrepresentation of records, he might be accused of and attempted at one trial for, each such offence.

On the off chance that the demonstrations asserted establish an offence falling inside at least two separate meanings of any law in power until further notice by which offences are characterized or rebuffed, the individual blamed for them might be accused of and attempted at one preliminary for, every one of such offences.

In the event that few demonstrations, of which at least one than one would without anyone else or themselves establish an offence, comprise when consolidated an alternate offence, the individual blamed for them might be accused of, and attempted at one preliminary for the offence established by such acts when joined, and for any offence established by any, at least one, of such acts.

4. 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 a 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 from 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.

5. 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 persons can be charged and tried together for the same or distinct offences as the case may be.


Important Mains/Long Questions for Judiciary, APO & University Exams

  1. CRPC Mains Questions Series Part I: Important Questions
  2. CRPC Mains Questions Series Part II: Important Questions
  3. CRPC Mains Questions Series Part III: Important Questions
  4. CRPC Mains Questions Series Part IV: Important Questions
  5. CRPC Mains Questions Series Part V: Important Questions
  6. CRPC Mains Questions Series Part VI: Important Questions
  7. CRPC Mains Questions Series Part VII: Important Questions
  8. CRPC Mains Questions Series Part VIII: Important Questions
  9. CRPC Mains Questions Series Part IX: Important Questions
  10. CRPC Mains Questions Series Part X: Important Questions
  11. CRPC Mains Questions Series Part XI: Important Questions
Updated On 2022-05-30T05:59:51+05:30
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