GHULAM HASSAN BEIGH Versus MOHAMMAD MAQBOOL MAGREY & ORS.

GHULAM HASSAN BEIGH Versus MOHAMMAD MAQBOOL MAGREY & ORS. 


Landmark Cases of India / सुप्रीम कोर्ट के ऐतिहासिक फैसले


REPORTABLE
IN THE SUPREME COURT OF INDIA
CRIMINAL APPELLATE JURISDICTION
CRIMINAL APPEAL NO.                      OF 2022 
(ARISING OUT OF S.L.P. (CRIMINAL) NO. 4599 OF 2021)
GHULAM HASSAN BEIGH      …APPELLANT(S)
Versus
MOHAMMAD MAQBOOL MAGREY & ORS.     …RESPONDENT(S)
J U D G M E N T
J.B. PARDIWALA, J. :
1. Leave granted.
2. This   appeal   is   at   the   instance  of   the   original   complainant
(husband of the deceased) and is directed against the order passed
by   the   High   Court   of   Jammu   and   Kashmir   at   Srinagar   dated
26.11.2020 in the CM (M) No. 99 of 2020 by which the High Court
rejected   the   revision   application   filed   by   the   appellant   herein
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thereby   affirming   the   order   passed   by   the   Additional   Sessions
Judge, Sopore (trial court) discharging the original accused persons
(respondents   Nos.   1   to   7   herein)   from   the   offence   of   murder
punishable under Section 302 of the Indian Penal Code (for short,
‘IPC’). Upon affirmation the trial court proceeded to frame charge
against the accused persons for the offence of culpable homicide
punishable under Section 304 of the IPC.
FACTUAL MATRIX
3. It   appears   from   the   First   Information   Report   (FIR)   bearing
No. 26/20 dated 22.03.2020 lodged by the appellant with the police
station situated at Dangiwacha that on the fateful day, the accused
persons formed an unlawful assembly and laid an assault on the
appellant   and   his   family   members   after   trespassing   into   the
residential property of the appellant herein. It is the case of the
prosecution   that   all   the   accused   persons   trespassed   into   the
residential property of the appellant and started damaging the tin
fence.   When   the   appellant   herein   tried   to   restrain   the   accused
persons   from   causing   any   further   damage,   they   all   started
assaulting the appellant by giving fisticuffs. One of the accused
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persons is said to have hit the appellant with a wooden log. The wife
of   the   appellant   herein   and   his   daughter­in­law   viz.   Rubeena
Ramzan came to the rescue of the appellant. The accused persons
are   alleged   to   have   caught   hold   of   the   deceased   (wife   of   the
appellant herein) and the daughter­in­law and both were beaten up
causing injuries. It is further alleged that the two female members
of the family were dragged by the accused persons as a result the
clothes of the deceased got torned thereby outraging her modesty.
4. In connection with the aforesaid incident, the appellant went
to the police station at Dangiwacha and lodged the FIR.  The FIR
was initially registered for the offences punishable under Sections
147, 354, 323 and 451 respectively of the IPC.  The deceased (wife
of the appellant) had to be shifted to a hospital as she suffered
injuries on her body. No sooner the deceased was brought to the
hospital than she was declared dead by the doctor on duty.  In such
circumstances, Section 302 of the IPC came to be added in the FIR.
The post mortem of the body of the deceased was performed. The
statements   of   the   various   eye   witnesses   to   the   incident   were
recorded.   Various  panchnamas  were   drawn.   At   the   end   of   the
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investigation,   the   police   filed   charge   sheet   against   the   accused
persons for  the offence  of murder along with  other offences as
enumerated above. 
5. The cause of death of the deceased as assigned in the post
mortem is “cardio respiratory failure”.  No poison was detected in
the viscera.  
6. It appears that the trial court heard the prosecution as well as
the defence on the question of charge. Ultimately, the trial court
thought   fit   to   discharge   the   accused   persons   of   the   offence   of
murder punishable under Section 302 of the IPC and proceeded to
frame   charge   against   the   accused   persons   for   the   offence   of
culpable homicide punishable under Section 304 of the IPC.
7. The appellant herein, being aggrieved by such decision of the
trial   court   to   discharge   the   accused   persons   of   the   offence   of
murder, challenged the legality and validity of the order by filing a
revision application before the High Court. The High Court thought
fit to affirm the order passed by the trial court discharging the
accused persons of the offence of murder. 
8. In such circumstances referred to above, the appellant has
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come up with the present appeal before this Court.
ANALYSIS
9. Having heard the learned counsel appearing for the parties
and having gone through the materials on record, the only question
that falls for our consideration is : Whether the High Court was
justified in affirming the order passed by the trial court discharging
the accused persons of the offence of murder?
10. At this stage, we may look into the reasons assigned by the
trial   court   as   well   as   by   the   High   Court   for   the   purpose   of
discharging the accused persons of the offence of murder.
11. The   trial   court   in   its   order   dated   23.10.2020   observed   in
paragraphs 29 and 30 respectively as under :­
“29. Scanning the evidence of prosecution, statements of
the prosecution witnesses and statement of the deceased
before her death who in their statements have stated that
the   accused   persons   entered   the   compound   of   the
complainant  and   gave  a   blow  with   some   object   to   the
complainant, with the result complainant got injured and
the accused persons outraged the modesty of the wife and
daughter­in­law of the complainant. While going through
the statement under section 161 Cr.P.C. of the deceased,
which   was   recorded   instantly   after   the   alleged
commission   of   offence,   deceased   has   stated   that   the
accused persons entered the compound and attacked his
husband who was given a blow by some object with the
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result he got injured while as she and her daughter­in­law
tried to intervene upon which the accused persons caught
hold of them by hair and started beating with hands with
the result she got injured and her modesty was outraged.
Medical opinion on file reflect that there was no injury on
any other part of the body of the deceased except over
upper  and   lower  lips  with  abrasions   on   face.  Whether
such act has caused the death of the deceased has not
been   mentioned   anywhere   in   the   record.     Injury   as
reflected in the injury memo also does not reflect any such
consequence   which   could   lead   to   the   death   of   the
deceased. Report received from FSL also does not reflect
anything which could in any way lead to the conclusion of
death   by   the   commission   of   the   offence.   In   these
circumstances it could not be said that the ingredients of
sec 302 IPC are made out and the instant case does not
fall within the paraments laid down under sec 302 IPC.
30.   Penal   code   recognizes   two   kinds   of   homicides   –   i)
culpable homicide,  that deals between sections 299 and
304 IPC and ii) non­culpable homicides, which deals with
section   304­A   IPC.   There   are   two   kinds   of   culpable
homicides; a) culpable homicide amounting to murder Sec
300 and 302 IPC and b) culpable homicide not amounting
to   murder   Sec   304­II   RPC.   This   section   provides
punishment   for   culpable   homicide   not   amounting   to
murder.   The   accused   person   on   virtual   mode   who   are
lodged in Sub Jail Baramulla, who pleaded not guilty and
claimed to be tried. Copy of charge sheet was sent to
Superintendent   Sub   Jail   Baramulla   for   obtaining
signatures   of   the   accused   persons   who   shall   after
obtaining   the   same   attest   the   same   and   forward   the
charge   sheet   to   this   court.   Prosecution   shall   produce
evidence on next date of hearing. Put up on 04.11.20.”  
(emphasis supplied)
12. The High Court, while affirming the aforesaid order passed by
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the trial court, held as under:­
“9. The perusal of the order passed by trial court reveals
that the trial court after considering the statement of the
eye   witnesses  including  the  injured   witnesses  and   the
statement of the deceased has come to the conclusion that
the   ingredients   of   offence   under section   302 I.P.C   are
lacking. The injury report of the deceased reflects that she
was examined at 3.15 p.m. on 22.03.2020 and except
slight bleeding over upper and lower lips, there was no
injury on  any part  of the  body of the  deceased  Aisha
Begum   and   at   that   time   she   had   not   suffered   cardiac
arrest. In the post mortem report, the concerned Medical
Officer has given opinion regarding death of Aisha Begum
that the deceased died due to cardiac arrest with alleged
history   of   scuffle   with   neighbours.   Even   the   deceased
Aisha   Begum   in   her   statement   has   stated   that   the
respondent Nos. 1 to 7 entered their compound and gave
blow upon her husband (petitioner) as result of which he
got injured and when she and her daughter­in­law tried to
intervene, they also got hold of them and started beating
her as a result of which she got injured and outraged her
modesty. The cause of death in the post mortem report is
    cardiac arrest and not that the deceased died as a result
of injury suffered by her. It would be relevant to note that
the deceased was examined on 22.03.2020 at 3.15 P.M
by Medical Officer. She was declared brought dead on
23.03.2020 in the Hospital at 1.37 A.M as per the death
certificate   placed   on   record   by   the   petitioner.   The   trial
court has rightly come to the conclusion that no offence
under section 302 IPC is made out against the respondent
Nos.   1   to7.   There   is   no   force   in   the   contention   of   the
petitioner that the trial court has critically evaluated the
evidence   but   the   trial   court   has   simply   examined   the
material facts so as to find out as to whether there is
sufficient material to charge the private respondents for
commission of offence under section 302 IPC or not and
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the   conclusion   of   the   trial   court   is   rather   the   only
conclusion that can be drawn from the material brought on
record by the prosecution.” (emphasis supplied)
13. We shall now take notice of the individual orders passed by
the trial court framing charge against the accused persons. One
such order framing the charge reads thus:­
“Charge is hereby framed against you Midasir Ahmad
Magrey that on 22.03.20 you in collusion with the other
accused   persons   trespassed   into   the   courtyard   of   the
house of the complainant and you all started uprooting
the tin fence.  When the complainant asked you and other
accused   persons   not   to   cause   any   damage,   you   all
started assaulting the complainant with a weapon as a
result the complainant suffered injuries and fell down on
the ground. You also caused injuries to the wife of the
complainant and outraged her modesty. The wife of the
complainant   died   in   the   midnight   hours   on
22/23.03.2020.   Therefore,   you   are   to   be   tried   for   the
offence punishable under Sections 451, 323, 324 and 304
of the IPC.”
14.  We shall now look into the police statement of one of the eye
witnesses   recorded   under   Section   161   of   the   Code   of   Criminal
Procedure,   1973   (for   short,   ‘CrPC’)   dated   23.03.2020.   The
statements of all other eye witnesses are on the same footing. The
statement thus reads:­
“Statement of Wali Mohammad Sheikh R/o: Ghulam Mohiud­din Sheikh R/o Yarbugh, age – 59 Years, Occupation –
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Farmer under Section 161 Cr.PC dated 23­03­2020
I   am   a   resident   of   Yarbugh   and   am   a   Farmer   by
profession.   On 22­03­2020, I went to offer Prayers and
was returning from the Mosque towards my Home. On the
way   I   saw   that   the   accused   persons   namely     1.
Mohammad   Maqbool   Magray     S/o   Mohammad   Shaban
Magray;   2.   Zahoor   Ahmad   Magray   S/o   Mohammad
Shaban Magray; 3. Tariq Ahmad Magray S/o Mohammad
Shaban   Magray;   4.   Mudasir   Ahmad   Magray   S/o
Mohammad Shaban Magray; 5. Abdul Rashid Beigh S/o
Mohammad   Beigh;   6.   Suhail   Ahmad   Beigh   S/o   Abdul
Rashid   Beigh;   and   7.   Nasir   Ahmad   Beigh   S/o   Abdul
Rashid   Beigh   Residents   of   :   Yarbugh   Rafiabad,   in   an
unlawful assembly with a preplanned concert, entered the
residential compound of complainant and started breaking
his Tin Fence. The complainant objected to such act and
told them that the said Tin Wall was constructed mutually.
On   listening   to   this,   the   accused   persons   forming   an
assembly,   caught   hold   of   the   complainant   and   started
beating him up with kicks and blows.  Further, they hit the
complainant with a wooden log as a result he got injured.
The wife of complainant namely Mst. Ashiya Begum and
Daughter­in­law   of   the   complainant   namely   Rubeena
Ramzan came to the rescue the complainant. The accused
persons also caught hold of them and beat them up with
kicks and blows thereby causing injuries to both.   The
said two ladies were dragged by the accused persons due
to which their modesty was outraged and the Feran worn
by the wife of the complainant was also tore off by the
accused persons.   The complainant then filed a written
complaint   with   the   Police   Station   Dangiwacha   in   the
incident. At 10:00 PM, the wife of the complainant namely
Mst. Ashiya Begum who was beaten and injured by the
accused persons complained of severe complications and
was rushed to hospital for medical treatment and on way
she succumbed to death. In fact, the deceased died due to
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the assault and beating of accused persons and injuries
by   them.   Today,   Police   Dangiwacha   recorded   my
statement and I attested my signature upon it.  Hence, my
statement.” 
POSITION OF LAW
15.  Section 226 of the CrPC corresponds to sub­section (1) of the
old Section 286 with  verbal changes owing to the abolition of the
jury.  Section 286 of the 1898 Code reads as under:­ 
“286.(1) In a case triable by jury, when the jurors have
been in chosen or, in any other case, when the Judge
is ready to hear the case, the prosecutor shall open his
case by reading from the Indian Penal or other law the
description of the offence charged, and stating shortly
by what evidence he expects to prove the guilt of the
accused.
(2) The prosecutor shall then examine his witnesses.”
Section 226 of the 1973 Code reads thus: 
“226. Opening case for prosecution.─  When   the   accused appears or is brought before the Court in pursuance of a commitment of the case under section 209,
the prosecutor shall open his case by describing the
charge   brought   against   the   accused   and   stating   by
what evidence he proposes to prove the guilt of the accused.”
10
   Section 226 of the CrPC permits the prosecution to make the first
impression regards a case, one which might be difficult to dispel. In
not insisting upon its right under Section 226 of the CrPC, the
prosecution would be doing itself a disfavour. If the accused is to
contend that the case against him has not been explained owing to
the   non­compliance   with   Section   226   of   the   CrPC,   the   answer
would be that the Section 173(2) of the CrPC report in the case
would give a fair idea thereof, and that the stage of framing of
charges under Section 228 of the CrPC is reached after crossing the
stage of Section 227 of the CrPC, which affords both the prosecution and accused a fair opportunity to put forward their rival contentions.
16. Section 227 of the CrPC reads thus: 
“227. Discharge.─
If,   upon   consideration   of   the   record   of   the 
case 
and     the documents   submitted therewith,  and after
hearing    the  submissions   of    the   accused   and  the 
prosecution   in    this    behalf,   the    Judge    considers
that   there   is   not sufficient ground for proceeding
against the accused, he shall discharge the accused
and record his reasons for so doing.”
   
17. Section 228 of the CrPC reads thus: 
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“228. Framing of charge.­  (1)   If, after such consideration and hearing as aforesaid,the Judge is of   opinion
that   there   is   ground   for     presuming that the accused has committed an offence which­ (a) is not exclusively triable by the Court of   Session, he
may frame a charge against the   accused   and,   by order,
transfer the case for trial to the Chief Judicial   Magistrate, or any other Judicial Magistrate of the first class
and direct the accused to appear before the Chief  Judicial Magistrate, or as the case may be, the Judicial Magistrate of the first class, on such date as he deems fit,
and thereupon such Magistrate shall   try   the  offence   in
accordance with the procedure   for the trial of warrant
cases instituted on a police report;
(b) is exclusively triable   by the Court,   he
shall frame in
writing a charge against the accused.
(2) Where the Judge frames any charge under clause (b)
of sub­section (1), the charge shall  be read and    explained to the accused and the accused   shall   be   asked
whether he pleads guilty of the offence charged or claimsto be tried.” 
18.  The   purpose of framing a charge is to intimate to the accused
the clear, unambiguous and precise nature of accusation that the
accused is called upon to meet in the course of a trial.  [See: decision of a Four   Judge   Bench   of   this   Court   in
V.C. Shukla v. State through   C.B.I.  reported in1980 Supp SCC
92: 1980 SCC (Cri) 695).   
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19. The case may be a sessions case, a warrant case, or a summons case, the point is that a prima facie case must be made out
before a charge can be framed. Basically, there are three pairs of
sections in the CrPC.  Those are Sections 227 and 228 relating to
the sessions trial; Section 239 and 240 relatable to trial of warrant
cases, and Sections 245(1) and (2) with respect to trial of summons
case. 
20.  Section 226 of the CrPC, over a period of time has gone, in
oblivion. Our understanding of the provision of Section 226 of the
CrPC is that before the Court proceeds to frame the charge against
the accused, the Public Prosecutor owes a duty to give a fair idea to
the Court as regards the case of the prosecution. 
21.  This Court in the case of Union of India v. Prafulla Kumar
Samal and another, (1979) 3 SCC 4, considered the scope of enquiry a judge is required to make while considering the question of
framing of charges. After an exhaustive survey of the case law on
the point, this Court, in paragraph 10 of the judgment, laid down
the following principles :­
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“(1) That the Judge while considering the question of
framing the charges under section 227 of the Code has
the undoubted power to sift and weigh the evidence for
the limited purpose of finding out whether or not a prima
facie case against the accused has been made out.
(2) Where the materials placed before the Court disclose
grave suspicion against the accused which has not been
properly explained the Court will be, fully justified in
framing a charge and proceeding with the trial. 
(3)   The   test   to   determine   a   prima   facie   case   would
naturally depend upon the facts of each case and it is
difficult to lay down a rule of universal application. By
and large however if two views are equally possible and
the Judge is satisfied that the evidence produced before
him while giving rise to some suspicion but not grave
suspicion against the accused, he will be fully within his
right to discharge the accused. 
(4) That in exercising his jurisdiction under section 227
of the Code the Judge which under the present Code is a
senior and experienced Judge cannot act merely as a
Post office or a mouth­piece of the prosecution, but has
to consider the broad probabilities of the case, 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 does not mean that the
Judge should make a roving enquiry into the pros and
cons of the matter and weigh the evidence as if he was
conducting a trial.” 
22.   There are several other judgments of this Court delineating
the scope of Court’s powers in respect of the framing of charges in a
criminal case, one of those being Dipakbhai Jagdishchndra Patel
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v. State of Gujarat, (2019) 16 SCC 547, wherein the law relating to
the framing of charge and discharge is discussed elaborately in
paragraphs  15  and  23  resply  and the  same  are  reproduced  as
under: 
“15.   We   may   profitably,   in   this   regard,   refer   to   the
judgment of this Court in State of Bihar v. Ramesh Singh
wherein this Court has laid down the principles relating
to framing of charge and discharge as follows:  
“4…..Reading   Sections   227   and   228   together   in
juxtaposition, as they have got to be, it would be
clear that at the beginning and initial stage of the
trial the truth, veracity and effect of the evidence
which the prosecutor proposes to adduce are not to
be meticulously judged. Nor is any weight to be
attached to the probable defence of the accused. It
is not obligatory for the Judge at that stage of the
trial   to   consider   in   any   detail   and   weigh   in   a
sensitive   balance   whether   the   facts,   if   proved,
would be incompatible with the innocence of the
accused or not. The standard of test and judgment
which is to be finally applied before recording a
finding   regarding   the   guilt   or   otherwise   of   the
accused is not exactly to be applied at the stage of
deciding the matter under Section 227 or Section
228 of the Code. At that stage the Court is not to
see whether there is sufficient ground for conviction
of the accused or whether the trial is sure to end in
his   conviction.   Strong   suspicion   against   the
accused,   if   the   matter   remains   in   the   region   of
suspicion, cannot take the place of proof of his guilt
at the conclusion of the trial. But at the initial stage
if there is a strong suspicion which leads the Court
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to think that there is ground for presuming that the
accused has committed an offence then it is not
open to the Court to say that there is no sufficient
ground   for   proceeding   against   the   accused.   The
presumption of the guilt of the accused which is to
be drawn at the initial stage is not in the sense of
the   law   governing   the   trial   of   criminal   cases   in
France where the accused is presumed to be guilty
unless the contrary is proved. But it is only for the
purpose of deciding prima facie whether the court
should proceed with the trial or not. 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 the offence, then there will be
no sufficient ground for proceeding with the trial….
If the scales of pan as to the guilt or innocence of
the   accused   are   something   like   even   at   the
conclusion of the trial, then, on the theory of benefit
of doubt the case is to end in his acquittal. But if, on
the other hand, it is so at the initial stage of making
an order under Section 227 or Section 228, then in
such a situation ordinarily and generally the order
which   will   have   to   be   made   will   be   one   under
Section 228 and not under Section 227.”
“23. At the stage of framing the charge in accordance
with the principles which have been laid down by this
Court, what the Court is expected to do is, it does not act
as a mere post office. The Court must indeed sift the
material before it. The material to be sifted would be the
material   which   is   produced   and   relied   upon   by   the
prosecution. The sifting is not to be meticulous in the
sense that the Court dons the mantle of the Trial Judge
hearing arguments after the entire evidence has been
adduced after a full­fledged trial and the question is not
16
whether the prosecution has made out the case for the
conviction of the accused. All that is required is, the
Court   must   be   satisfied   that   with   the   materials
available, a case is made out for the accused to stand
trial.   A   strong   suspicion   suffices.   However,   a   strong
suspicion   must   be   founded   on   some   material.   The
material   must   be   such   as   can   be   translated   into
evidence   at   the   stage   of   trial.   The   strong   suspicion
cannot be the pure subjective satisfaction based on the
moral notions of the Judge that here is a case where it is
possible that accused has committed the offence. Strong
suspicion must be the suspicion which is premised on
some material which commends itself to the court as
sufficient   to   entertain   the   prima   facie   view   that   the
accused has committed the offence.”
23.  In Sajjan   Kumar v. CBI [(2010) 9 SCC 368 : (2010) 3 SCC
(Cri) 1371] , this Court had an occasion to consider the scope of
Sections 227 and 228 CrPC. The principles which emerged therefrom have been taken note of in para 21 as under: (SCC pp. 376­77)
“21. On consideration of the authorities about the scope
of Sections 227 and 228 of the Code, the following principles emerge:
(i)   The   Judge   while   considering   the   question   of
framing the charges under Section 227 CrPC has
the undoubted power to sift and weigh the evidence
for the limited purpose of finding out whether or not
a prima facie case against the accused has been
made out. The test to determine prima facie case
would depend upon the facts of each case.
17
(ii) Where the materials placed before the court disclose grave suspicion against the accused which
has not been properly explained, the court will be
fully justified in framing a charge and proceeding
with the trial.
(iii) The court cannot act merely as a post office or a
mouthpiece of the prosecution but has to consider
the broad probabilities of the case, the total effect of
the evidence and the documents produced before
the court, any basic infirmities, etc. However, at this
stage, there cannot be a roving enquiry into the pros
and cons of the matter and weigh the evidence as if
he was conducting a trial.
(iv) If on the basis of the material on record, the
court could form an opinion that the accused might
have committed offence, it can frame the charge,
though for conviction the conclusion is required to
be   proved  beyond   reasonable   doubt  that  the  accused has committed the offence.
(v) At the time of framing of the charges, the probative value of the material on record cannot be gone
into but before framing a charge the court must apply   its   judicial   mind   on   the   material   placed   on
record and must be satisfied that the commission of
offence by the accused was possible.
(vi) At the stage of Sections 227 and 228, the court
is required to evaluate the material and documents
on record with a view to find out if the facts emerging therefrom taken at their face value disclose the
existence of all the ingredients constituting the alleged offence. For this limited purpose, sift the evidence as it cannot be expected even at that initial
18
stage to accept all that the prosecution states as
gospel truth even if it is opposed to common sense
or the broad probabilities of the case.
(vii) If two views are possible and one of them gives
rise to suspicion only, as distinguished from grave
suspicion, the trial Judge will be empowered to discharge the accused and at this stage, he is not to
see whether the trial will end in conviction or acquittal.”
24. The exposition of law on the subject has been further
considered by this Court in State v. S. Selvi, (2018) 13 SCC
455   :   (2018)   3   SCC   (Cri)   710,   followed   in Vikram   Johar v. State   of   Uttar   Pradesh, (2019) 14 SCC 207 : 2019
SCC OnLine SC 609 : (2019) 6 Scale 794.
25. In   the   case   of  Asim   Shariff   v.   National   Investigation
Agency, (2019) 7 SCC 148, this Court, to which one of us (A.M.
Khanwilkar, J.) was a party, in so many words has expressed that
the trial court is not expected or supposed to hold a mini trial for
the purpose of marshalling the evidence on record. We quote the
relevant observations as under:­
“18. Taking note of the exposition of law on the subject
laid down by this Court, it is settled that the Judge
while   considering   the   question   of   framing   charge
19
under Section 227 CrPC in sessions cases(which is akin
to Section  239 CrPC  pertaining to  warrant  cases) has
the undoubted power to sift and weigh the evidence for
the limited purpose of finding out whether or not a prima
facie   case   against   the   accused   has   been   made   out;
where  the  material placed  before  the  Court  discloses
grave suspicion against the accused which has not been
properly explained, the Court will be fully justified in
framing   the   charge;   by   and   large   if   two   views   are
possible and one of them giving rise to suspicion only,
as   distinguished   from   grave   suspicion   against   the
accused, 3 2018(13) SCC 455 4 2019(6) SCALE 794 the
trial Judge will be justified in discharging him.  It   is
thus   clear   that   while   examining   the   discharge
application   filed   under Section   227 CrPC,   it   is
expected   from   the   trial   Judge   to   exercise   its
judicial  mind  to  determine  as  to  whether  a  case
for trial has been made out or not. It is true that
in such proceedings, the Court is not supposed to
hold  a mini  trial  by  marshalling  the  evidence  on
record.”
(emphasis supplied)
26. In   the   case   of  State   of   Karnataka   v.   M.R.   Hiremath,
reported in (2019) 7 SCC 515, this Court held as under:­
“25. The High Court ought to have been cognizant of the
fact that the trial court was dealing with an application
for discharge under the provisions of Section 239 CrPC.
The   parameters   which   govern   the   exercise   of   this
jurisdiction have found expression in several decisions
of this Court. It is a settled principle of law that at the
stage   of   considering   an   application   for   discharge   the
court must proceed on the assumption that the material
which has been brought on the record by the prosecution
20
is true and evaluate the material in order to determine
whether the facts emerging from the material, taken on
its face value, disclose the existence of the ingredients
necessary to constitute the offence. In State of T.N. v. N.
Suresh   Rajan,  (2014)   11   SCC   709,   adverting   to   the
earlier decisions on the subject, this Court held: (SCC pp.
721­22, para 29) 
“29. … At this stage, probative value of the materials
has to be gone into and the court is not expected to
go deep into the matter and hold that the materials
would not warrant a conviction. In our opinion, what
needs to be considered is whether there is a ground
for presuming that the offence has been committed
and not whether a ground for convicting the accused
has been made out. To put it differently, if the court
thinks that the accused might have committed the
offence on the basis of the materials on record on its
probative value, it can frame the charge; though for
conviction, the court has to come to the conclusion
that the accused has committed the offence. The law
does not permit a mini trial at this stage.”
27.  Thus from the aforesaid, it is evident that the trial court is
enjoined with the duty to apply its mind at the time of framing of
charge and should not act as a mere post office. The endorsement
on the charge sheet presented by the police as it is without applying
its   mind   and   without   recording   brief   reasons   in   support   of   its
opinion is not countenanced by law. However, the material which is
required to be evaluated by the Court at the time of framing charge
21
should be the material which is produced and relied upon by the
prosecution. The sifting of such material is not to be so meticulous
as would render the exercise a mini trial to find out the guilt or
otherwise of the accused. All that is required at this stage is that
the   Court   must   be   satisfied   that   the   evidence   collected   by   the
prosecution   is   sufficient   to   presume   that   the   accused   has
committed   an   offence.   Even   a   strong   suspicion   would   suffice.
Undoubtedly,   apart   from   the  material   that   is   placed   before   the
Court by the prosecution in the shape of final report in terms of
Section   173   of   CrPC,   the   Court   may   also   rely   upon   any   other
evidence or material which is of sterling quality and has direct
bearing   on   the  charge   laid   before   it   by   the   prosecution.  (See   :
Bhawna Bai v. Ghanshyam, (2020) 2 SCC 217).
28.  In Amit Kapoor v. Ramesh Chander, (2012) 9 SCC 460, this
Court observed in paragraph 30 that the Legislature in its wisdom
has used the expression “there is ground for presuming that the
accused has committed an offence”. There is an inbuilt element of
presumption. It referred to its judgement rendered in the case of
State of Maharashtra v. Som Nath Thapa and others, (1996) 4
22
SCC   659,   and   to   the   meaning   of   the   word   “presume”,   placing
reliance upon Blacks’ Law Dictionary, where it was defined to mean
  “to believe or accept upon probable evidence”; “to take as true until
evidence to the contrary is forthcoming”. In other words, the truth of
the matter has to come out when the prosecution evidence is led, the
witnesses are cross­examined by the defence, incriminating material
and evidences put to the accused in terms of Section 313 of the Code,
and then the accused is provided an opportunity to lead defence, if
any. It is only upon completion of such steps that the trial concludes
with   the   Court   forming   its   final   opinion   and   delivering   its
judgement.....”                                                     (emphasis
supplied)
29. What did the trial court do in the case on hand? We have no
doubt   in   our   mind   that   the   trial   court   could   be   said   to   have
conducted a mini trial while marshalling the evidence on record.
The trial court thought fit to discharge the accused persons from
the offence of murder and proceeded to frame charge for the offence
of culpable homicide under Section 304 of the IPC by only taking
into consideration the medical evidence on record. The trial court as
23
well as the High Court got persuaded by the fact that the cause of
death of the deceased as assigned in the post mortem report being
the   “cardio   respiratory   failure”,   the   same   cannot   be   said   to   be
having any nexus with the alleged assault that was laid on the
deceased. Such approach of the trial court is not correct and cannot
be countenanced in law. The post mortem report, by itself, does not
constitute   substantive  evidence.   Whether the   “cardio   respiratory
failure” had any nexus with the incident in question would have to
be determined on the basis of the oral evidence of the eye witnesses
as well as the medical officer concerned i.e. the expert witness who
may be examined by the Prosecution as one of its witnesses. To put
it in other words, whether the cause of death has any nexus with
the alleged assault on the deceased by the accused persons could
have been determined only after the recoding of oral evidence of the
eye   witnesses   and   the   expert   witness   along   with   the   other
substantive evidence on record. The post mortem repot of the doctor
is his previous statement based on his examination of the dead
body. It is not substantive evidence. The doctor’s statement in court
is alone the substantive evidence. The post mortem repot can be
24
used only to corroborate his statement under Section 157, or to
refresh   his   memory   under   Section   159,   or   to   contradict   his
statement in the witness­box under Section 145 of the Evidence
Act, 1872. A medical witness called in as an expert to assist the
Court is not a witness of fact and the evidence given by the medical
officer is really of an advisory character given on the basis of the
symptoms found on examination. The expert witness is expected to
put   before   the   Court   all   materials   inclusive   of   the   data   which
induced him to come to the conclusion and enlighten the Court on
the technical aspect of the case by explaining the terms of science
so   that   the   Court   although,   not   an   expert   may   form   its   own
judgment on those materials after giving due regard to the expert’s
opinion because once the expert’s opinion is accepted, it is not the
opinion of the medical officer but of the Court.
30.   The prosecution should have been given opportunity to prove
all the relevant facts including the post mortem report through the
medical officer concerned by leading oral evidence and thereby seek
the opinion of the expert.  It was too early on the part of the trial
court as well as the High Court to arrive at the conclusion that
25
since no serious injuries were noted in the post mortem report, the
death of the deceased on account of “cardio respiratory failure”
cannot   be   said   to   be   having   any   nexus   with   the   incident   in
question.
31.  Whether the case falls under Section 302 or 304 Part II, IPC
could have been decided by the trial court only after the evaluation
of the entire oral evidence that may be led by the prosecution as
well as by the defence, if any, comes on record. Ultimately, upon
appreciation of the entire evidence on record at the end of the trial,
the trial court may take one view or the other i.e. whether it is a
case of murder or case of culpable homicide.  But at the stage of
framing of the charge, the trial court could not have reached to
such a conclusion merely relying upon the port mortem report on
record.  The High Court also overlooked such fundamental infirmity
in the order passed by the trial court and proceeded to affirm the
same.
32. We may now proceed to consider the issue on hand from a
different angle. It is a settled position of law that in a criminal trial,
the   prosecution   can   lead   evidence   only   in   accordance   with   the
26
charge framed by the trial court. Where a higher charge is not
framed   for   which   there   is   evidence,   the   accused   is   entitled   to
assume that he is called upon to defend himself only with regard to
the lesser offence for which he has been charged. It is not necessary
then for him to meet evidence relating to the offences with which he
has not been charged. He is merely to answer the charge as framed.
The   Code   does   not   require   him   to   meet   all   evidence   led   by
prosecution. He has only to rebut evidence bearing on the charge.
The prosecution case is necessarily limited by the charge. It forms
the foundation of the trial which starts with it and the accused can
justifiably concentrate on meeting the subject­matter of the charge
against him. He need not cross­examine witnesses with regard to
offences he is not charged with nor need he give any evidence in
defence in respect of such charges.
33. Once the trial court decides to discharge an accused person
from the offence punishable under Section  302 of the IPC and
proceeds   to   frame   the   lesser   charge   for   the   offence   punishable
under Section 304 Part II of the IPC, the prosecution thereafter
would not be in a position to lead any evidence beyond the charge
27
as framed. To put it otherwise, the prosecution will be thereafter
compelled to proceed as if it has now to establish only the case of
culpable homicide and not murder. On the other hand, even if the
trial   court   proceeds   to   frame   charge  under   Section   302   IPC   in
accordance with the case put up by the prosecution still it would be
open for the accused to persuade the Court at the end of the trial
that   the   case   falls   only   within   the   ambit   of   culpable   homicide
punishable under Section 304 of IPC. In such circumstances, in the
facts of the present case, it would be more prudent to permit the
prosecution to lead appropriate evidence whatever it is worth in
accordance with its original case as put up in the chargesheet.
Such approach of the trial court at times may prove to be more
rationale and prudent. 
34. In view of the aforesaid discussion, the order of the High Court
as well as the order of the trial court deserve to be set aside.  
35.  In the result, this appeal succeeds and is hereby allowed.  The
orders passed by the High Court and the trial court are hereby set
aside.   The   trial   court   shall   now   proceed   to   pass   a   fresh   order
framing   charge   in   accordance   with   law   keeping   in   mind   the
28
observations made by this Court. 
36. We clarify that we have otherwise not expressed any opinion
on the merits of the case. The observations in this judgment are
absolutely prima facie and relevant only for the purpose of deciding
the   legality   and   validity   of   the   order   discharging   the   accused
persons of the offence of murder punishable under Section 302 of
the IPC. We once again clarify that ultimately it is for the trial court
to take an appropriate decision as regards the nature of the offence
at the end of the trial.
…………………………………….J.
(A.M. KHANWILKAR)
……………………………………..J.
(ABHAY S. OKA)
…………………………………….J.
(J.B. PARDIWALA)
NEW DELHI;
JULY 26, 2022
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