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Allahabad High Court says courts can’t discharge accused after charges have been framed

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The Allahabad High Court has held recently that courts have no jurisdiction to allow discharge of the accused after charges have been framed, and once charges have been framed, the issue of discharge becomes redundant.

A single-judge bench of Justice Rajeev Misra passed this order while hearing a petition filed by Ravindra Pratap Shahi @ Pappu Shahi.

The Application under Section 482 Cr. P. C. has been filed challenging the chargesheet dated May 10, 2021, submitted in Case under Section 306 IPC, P.S. Mahuli, District Sant Kabir Nagar, the Cognizance Taking Order dated May 12, 2021, passed by Chief Judicial Magistrate, Sant Kabir Nagar, upon charge sheet as well as entire proceedings of consequential criminal case under Section 306 IPC, P.S. Mahuli, District Sant Kabir Nagar, now pending in the Court of Chief Judicial Magistrate, Sant Kabir Nagar.

Another Criminal Revision has been filed challenging order dated September 02, 2021, passed by Sessions Judge, Sant Kabir Nagar, Case under Section 306 IPC, whereby discharge application filed by revisionist has been rejected.

During the pendency of aforementioned criminal revision, revisionist filed an amendment application seeking a challenge to the order dated September 04, 2021, passed by Court below, whereby charges have been framed against revisionist.

The Court noted that one Raghuveer Gupta (deceased), son of first informant opposite party 2 Ram Bachan, was a railway employee and posted as Gate Man at Railway Station Takia, District Unnao. On March 13, 2021, he consumed some poisonous substance. Ultimately, Raghuveer Gupta died on March 13, 2021 at around 22.00 hours at District Hospital, Unnao, where he was undergoing treatment.

Upon death of Raghuveer Gupta, Station Superintendent, Railway Station Takia, District Unnao, sent a written report to Station House Officer, Police Station Bihar, District Unnao. Upon receipt of aforesaid information, an entry regarding same was made in the General Diary of above mentioned Police Station.

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On the basis of G.D. entry, inquest of Raghveer (deceased) was conducted on March 14, 2021. Accordingly, an inquest report dated March 14, 2021 was prepared. Thereafter, post-mortem of the body of deceased was conducted on March 14, 2021 and a post-mortem report dated March 14, 2021 was prepared.

Subsequent to above, first informant/opposite party 2 Ram Bachan lodged an F.I.R. dated March 15, 2021, which was registered as Case under Section 306 IPC.

In the F.I.R., applicant/revisionist Ravindra Pratap Shahi and Jitendra Kannaujia have been nominated as named accused, whereas one unknown person has also been nominated as an accused. Feeling aggrieved by the charge sheet dated May 10, 2021, Cognizance Taking Order/Summoning Order dated May 12, 2021, passed by Chief Judicial Magistrate, Sant Kabir Nagar. The Applicant, who is a charge sheeted accused, approached the High Court by means of aforementioned Criminal Misc Application.

Gopal Swaroop Chaturvedi, Senior counsel assisted by Rakesh Kumar Srivastava and Mithlesh Kumar Tiwari, counsel for revisionist / applicant submits that entire proceedings of above mentioned criminal case are wholly malicious and therefore liable to be quashed by the Court. In support of his challenge to the entire proceedings of above mentioned criminal case as well as order dated September 04, 2021, whereby Court below has rejected the discharge application filed by revisionist, Senior counsel contends that from the material collected by Investigating Officer, no offence under Section 306 IPC is made out against applicant/revisionist.

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He has then invited attention of Court to the suicide note of the deceased, which is part of the case diary.

Senior counsel contends that no abetment, instigation or conspiracy is made out against applicant/revisionist.

He further contends that from a plain reading of suicide note, it is apparent that no grudge has been expressed by deceased against applicant/revisionist. The deceased had grievance with the police, who according to deceased, falsely implicated him in a criminal case and in spite of repeated request made by deceased, he was not exculpated.

Senior Counsel also contends that deceased was implicated in a case under Section 354 IPC. Deceased was charge-sheeted and therefore, remedy of deceased was to initiate appropriate legal proceedings for quashing of aforesaid proceedings, which admittedly were not undertaken by him.

On the basis of above, Senior Counsel said that it cannot be that there was any abetment to suicide on the part of applicant/revisionist.

Senior counsel further said that cancellation of lease granted to deceased cannot be attributed to applicant/revisionist.

Lease granted to deceased has been cancelled by District Magistrate, as same was illegal. In case, deceased was aggrieved by the cancellation of lease, remedy was to challenge the order of District Magistrate, before appropriate forum.

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According to Additional Government Advocate, it is an admitted position that order dated September 04, 2021, charges have been framed against applicant/revisionist. He therefore, submitted that once charges have been framed, plea of discharge becomes redundant. According to A.G.A., discharge can be claimed only prior to the framing of charge. Once charges have been framed, Court has no jurisdiction to discharge an accused. After framing of charge, Court can either convict an accused or acquit an accused, but cannot discharge an accused.

The Court held, “It is thus apparent that once charges have been framed, the issue of discharge becomes redundant, as Courts have no jurisdiction to allow discharge after charges having been framed. After charges have been framed, Court can either convict or acquit an accused. In the case, charges have been framed, order dated September 04, 2021. Resultantly, the Court now cannot examine the veracity of order dated September 02, 2021, whereby discharge application filed by applicant was rejected.

Admittedly, discharge claimed by applicant/revisionist has been refused by Court below, order dated September 02, 2021. Criminal Revision preferred by applicant/revisionist cannot be considered now as charges have already been framed. Thus by necessary implication, the Court now cannot examine the veracity of the framing of charge order dated September 04, 2021.

“For the facts and reasons noted above, this Court does not find any good ground to interfere. As a result, Criminal Misc. Application, as well as Criminal Revision filed by applicant/revisionist, are liable to be dismissed,” the court said.

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