An accused doesn’t have a right to prove his innocence at the stage of framing of charges

Madhya Pradesh High Court: A criminal revision, filed against the order of Special Judge (Prevention of Corruption Act) whereby charges under IPC and PCA were framed against the applicant, was dismissed by a Division Bench comprising of S.K. Seth and Nandita Dubey, JJ., holding it to be devoid of any substance.
The applicant was charged under Sections 420, 467, 468, 471 and 120-B read with Section 34 IPC along with Sections 13(1)(d) and 13(2) of the Prevention of Corruption Act, 1988. The applicant (an auction purchaser) was alleged to have colluded with officers of the Co-operative Department to purchase a land worth Rs. 1,67,000/- for a meager sum of Rs. 50,000 thus, causing loss of revenue to the government and financial loss to the real owner of the said land. The applicant challenged the order mentioned above on various grounds, including that there was no material to connect the applicant with the offence and the trial court should have discharged him under Section 227 CrPC.
On considering submissions and the record, the Court was of the opinion that there was no merit in contentions put forth by applicant’s counsel. The Court held the law to be well settled that at the time of framing of charge, the material produced by the defence cannot be considered by the Court. The legal position is clear that no right is conferred by CrPC to the accused to prove his innocence at the stage of framing of charge.

The Court relied on the Supreme Court decision in State of Rajasthan v. Fatehkaran Mehdu, (2017) 3 SCC 198, wherein it was held that:

“The framing of charge is not a stage, at which stage final test of guilt is to be applied. Thus, to hold that at the stage of framing the charge, the court should form an opinion that the accused is certainly guilty of committing an offence, is to hold something which is neither permissible nor is in consonance with scheme of Code of Criminal Procedure.”

In view of the above discussion, the Court upheld the impugned order and dismissed the instant application holding it to be sans merit. [S.P. Kohli v. State of M.P.,  2018 SCC OnLine MP 315, order dated 27-04-2018]

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