Applying for a “discharge application” under the Code of Criminal Procedure, 1973, (“CrPC”) is a remedy which can be availed by a person who has been maliciously charge-sheeted. The CrPC provides for filing of a discharge application if the allegations made against the person are false and frivolous. If the evidence before the Court is not sufficient to satisfy the ingredients of an offence and in the absence of any prima facie case against the person, he/she is entitled to be discharged from the case.
The police after completing its investigation files a charge sheet under Section 173 of the CrPC. Once the charge sheet is filed, the Accused is called upon to plead guilty or not guilty of the charge proposed to be framed. If the Accused pleads not guilty, the trial against the Accused begins in the concerned Court. Section 239 and 227 of the CrPC provide that before the charges are framed against the Accused person, he/she can be discharged on certain grounds.
Section 239 of the Code of Criminal Procedure, 1973 states when an Accused can be discharged in a trial before a Magistrate’s Court:
If the Magistrate, after due consideration of the police report and all the documents sent under Section 173 of the CrPC and after hearing the prosecution as well as the Accused, considers the charges to be groundless against the Accused, the Magistrate shall discharge the Accused and record the reasons for doing so.
What are the Essential elements for discharge?
The Courts must consider the charge sheet and documents appended by the Police under Section 173 of the CrPC:
Ways of determining if there is sufficient ground for discharge:
As per Section 227 of the CrPC, the Magistrate should ensure that there is no sufficient ground for proceedings, it means that no prudent person can conclude that there are grounds or even a single ground to sustain the charge against the accused. If the Sessions Judge is certain that the trial would only be a futile exercise or complete waste of time, he has the authority to discharge the Accused.
For the purpose of deciding whether the grounds are sufficient for proceeding against an Accused, the Court determines the question whether the material on record, if it is un-rebutted, is sufficient to make the conviction possible. It postulates the exercise of the judicial mind to the facts of the case to decide whether a case has been made out by the prosecution for trial.
In the case of Union of India versus Prafulla Kumar Samal, the Hon’ble Supreme Court formulated the following seven guiding principles on discharge and framing of charges:
Any laws relating to procedure and evidence requires some sort of interpretation, the interpretation is made usually in favour of the accused which is, upholding the presumption of innocence. The main purpose of the discharge application is that an innocent person should not be made to stand the rigours of a trial for a crime that he did not commit.
By - Vedanta Kishanchandani