Court can Alter Charges at Any Stage

Published: 18th April 2016 06:19 AM  |   Last Updated: 18th April 2016 06:20 AM   |  A+A-

HYDERABAD: The Hyderabad High Court has made it clear that under Section 216 of CrPC, the court may alter the charges (framed against an accused in a criminal case) at any stage, even before pronouncement of judgment, by following the procedure further envisaged in the subsequent sections.

Justice B.Siva Sankara Rao has made this observation while dealing with a criminal revision petition filed by two accused women (A4 and A5) who had been aggrieved by the order of framing of charges by the VI additional district and sessions judge, Tirupati in Chittoor district of AP.

As for the case, a married man (A1) abandoned his wife (A5) and developed  developed illicit relationship with a married woman (A4) and the deserted woman (A5) was staying with the other woman (A4) in the same abode and shelter.

A4's husband came to know of the illicit affair of his wife and scolded her. During altercations between the two, the other woman (A5) came in her support. Disgusted, the husband of A4 shifted his family to his native place. As he was allegedly beating his wife and altercating with her paramour (A1), they decided to eliminate him. The woman's paramour took the assistance of two men (A2 and A3) to kill A4's husband. The two killers, pursuant to the privy and abetment by the two men (A4 and A5),  killed the husband of A4 and buried the  body in a pit.

As per the prosecution in the lower court, there was extra-judicial confession of the three men (A1 to A3), including to the privy and abatement of the two women (A4 and A5), to killing the husband of A4. The confession of co-accused, extra-judicial admissibility of charge-sheet was maintained under Section 302 read with 109 against the two women (A4 and A5) apart from Sections 302, 120-B and 201 of IPC against the three men (A1 to A3).

After hearing both sides, the sessions judge had framed charges against the women (A4 and A5) punishable under Sections 302 (murder), 120-B (criminal conspiracy) and 109 (abetment) of IPC. Aggrieved by the order, the two women moved the High Court for relief.

After hearing the case and perusing the material on record, justice Siva Sankara Rao of the HC, by citing the Apex Court judgment in the Kehar Singh vs State of Delhi case, said there was no need to frame the charge under Section 109 of IPC if a charge under Section 120-B was framed. Except for admissibility and relevance of the evidence in extra-judicial confession made by the men (A1 to A3) even against the women (A4 and A5), there was any other material to corroborate for considering the framing of charges against the revision petitioners (A4 and A5), the judge pointed out while partly allowing the revision petition, the judge directed trial court to re-frame charges by invoking Section 216 of CrPC.

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