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Defense Story has no relevance at the stage of Charge
M E Shivalingamurthy Vs Central Bureau of Investigation
CRIMINAL APPEAL NO. 957 OF 2017
About/from the judgment:
The Supreme Court has in one of its latest judgements held that Court cannot look into the defence of the accused at the stage when he/she seeks to be discharged under Sec-227 of the Code of Criminal Procedure.
The petitioner herein who was the Director of Mines and Geology in the State of Karnataka at the relevant time had been alleged to conspire with other accused to steal away Government property. The High Court in the case had set aside the order passed by the Magistrate allowing the discharge application filed by the petitioner.
Aggrieved by the judgement, the petitioner filed an appeal before the Supreme Court and presented it with the legal challenge whether he could rely upon the material which he chooses to produce at the stage of discharge of application.
After taking all facts and submissions in notice, a bench comprising of Justice Sanjay Kishan Kaul and Justice KM Joseph noted that the principle is to take the materials produced by the prosecution, both in the form of oral statements and also documentary material, and act upon it without it been subjected to questioning through cross-examination and everything assumed in favour of the prosecution, if a scenario emerges where no offence, as alleged, is made out against the accused (petitioner herein), it, undoubtedly, would enure to the benefit of the accused.
"It is not open to the accused to rely on material by way of defence and persuade the court to discharge him. However, what is the meaning of the expression "materials on the basis of which grave suspicion is aroused in the mind of the court's", which is not explained away? Can the accused explain away the material only with reference to the materials produced by the prosecution? Can the accused rely upon the material which he chooses to produce at the stage? In view of the decisions of this Court that the accused can only rely on the materials which are produced by the prosecution, it must be understood that the grave suspicion, if it is established on the materials, should be explained away only in terms of the materials made available by the prosecution. No doubt, the accused may appeal to the broad probabilities to the case to persuade the court to discharge him"
The Top Court thus upheld the High Court's order.
In the judgement so delivered, the Court also referred to following principles laid down in P. Vijayan v. State of Kerala (2010) 2 SCC 398
- If two views are possible and one of them gives rise to suspicion only as distinguished from grave suspicion, the Trial Judge would be empowered to discharge the accused
- The Trial Judge is not a mere Post Office to frame the charge at the instance of the prosecution.
- The Judge has merely to sift the evidence in order to find out whether or not there is sufficient ground for proceeding. Evidence would consist of the statements recorded by the Police or the documents produced before the Court.
- If the evidence, which the Prosecutor proposes to adduce to prove the guilt of the accused, even if fully accepted before it is challenged in cross-examination or rebutted by the defence evidence, if any, "cannot show that the accused committed offence, then, there will be no sufficient ground for proceeding with the trial".
- It is open to the accused to explain away the materials giving rise to the grave suspicion. vi. The court has to consider the broad probabilities, the total effect of the evidence and the documents produced before the court, any basic infirmities appearing in the case and so on. This, however, would not entitle the court to make a roving inquiry into the pros and cons.
- At the time of framing of the charges, the probative value of the material on record cannot be gone into, and the material brought on record by the prosecution, has to be accepted as true.
- There must exist some materials for entertaining the strong suspicion which can form the basis for drawing up a charge and refusing to discharge the accused.
Read the Judgment
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