At the stage of charge, can the court rely on the documents other than those produced by prosecution?

proCharge is framed upon a person who is accused of committing an offence by the trial court before the commencement of trial. Charge explains to the accused as to what offence has been committed by him, under which provision of law and whether he pleads guilty or not.

Whether charge is to be framed upon the accused or not is to be seen by the court from the material on record.

Before a case reaches the stage of charge, firstly FIR is lodged by the police who thereafter conducts the investigation and files the chargesheet along with supporting documents. The trial court after considering the chargesheet and the documents, takes cognizance of the offence and after completing the due procedure of law, proceeds to frame charge against the accused.

In magistrate triable case, charge is framed u/s 240 CRPC if the charges is made out. When the charges are not made out then the accused is discharged u/s 239 CRPC. Both the sections are reproduced herewith,

Section 239 of Cr.P.C..When accused shall be discharged.-

If, upon considering the police report and the documents sent with it under section 173 and making such examination, if any, of the accused as the Magistrate thinks necessary and after giving the prosecution and the accused an opportunity of being heard, the Magistrate considers the charge against the accused to be groundless, he shall discharge the accused, and record his reasons for so doing.

Section 240. Framing of charge.

(1) If, upon such consideration examination, if any, and hearing, the Magistrate is of opinion that there is ground for presuming that the accused has committed an offence triable under this Chapter, which such Magistrate is competent to try and which, in opinion could be adequately punished by him, he shall frame in writing a charge against the accused.

(2) The charge shall then be read and explained to the accused, and he shall be asked whether he pleads guilty of the offence charged or claims to be tried.

According to the language of section 239 crpc, whether charge is made out or not, court has to consider the police report (chargesheet) and the documents filed along with the report only and accused is only given a right to be heard and no opportunity is granted to the accused to file any document.

While dealing with this issue, Hon’ble Supreme court of India in judgment titled as State of Orrisa vs Debendra Nath Padhi 2005 [1] JCC 109 held

As a result of aforesaid discussion, in our view, clearly the law is that at the time of framing charge or taking cognizance the accused has no right to produce any material. Satish Mehra’s case holding that the trial court has power to consider even materials which accused may produce at the stage of Section 227 of the Code has not been correctly decided.

There have been some incidents when court has held that in “very rare cases” accused can be allowed to file the documents at the stage of charge where document prima facie shows that the prosecution story is false. See Rukmani Narvekar vs Vijaya vs Satardekar & ors 2008 [4] JCC 2879. In this case also there is a difference of opinion between the two judges of the Hon’ble Supreme court.

 However the term “very rare cases” has not been defined. Therefore such vague term is not of any help. If the same is made the law then every individual will come forward with the argument stating that his case falls in the very rear category. The issue was further dealt by the Hon’ble High court of Delhi while considering both the above said judgments in case titled as Sarita Arora vs State CRL. M.C No 3906/2011 dated 31.05.2013 wherein Hon’ble Delhi High court held that the judgment of State of Orrisa vs Debendra Nath Padhi (supra) is judgment of larger bench therefore the same is to be followed.