A key question is clarified by the 3-judge bench of Supreme Court in this landmark judgment.
Can the trial court at the time of framing of charge consider material filed by the accused?
The scope of Sections 227 and 228 and scope of Sections 239 and 240 are explained along with scope of Sections 482
At the end the following is the summary arrived at.
- Under Sections 227 and 228, a Magistrate of the trial court, is supposed to consider only the material sent by prosecution along with the record of the case and the documents sent along with it, at the time of framing of the charge. The accused at that stage has no right to place before the court any material.
- Under Sections 239 and 240, requires the Magistrate to consider ‘the police report and the documents sent with it under Section 173’ and, if necessary, examine the accused and after giving accused an opportunity of being heard, if the Magistrate considers the charge against the accused to be groundless, the accused is liable to be discharged by recording reasons thereof.
- Regarding the argument of accused having to face the trial despite being in a position to produce material of unimpeachable character of sterling quality, the width of the powers of the High Court under Section 482 of the Code and Article 226 of Constitution of India is unlimited whereunder in the interests of justice the High Court can make such orders as may be necessary to prevent abuse of the process of any Court or otherwise to secure the ends of justice within the parameters laid down in Bhajan Lal’s case. Under Section 482 of the Code, along with the petition the accused may file unimpeachable evidence of sterling quality and on that basis seek quashing.
Legal point around application under/of CrPC 91
State Of Orissa Vs Debendra Nath Padhi on 29 November, 2004
In so far as the accused is concerned, his entitlement to seek order under Section 91 would ordinarily not come till the stage of defence. When the section talks of the document being necessary and desirable, it is implicit that necessity and desirability is to be examined considering the stage when such a prayer for summoning and production is made and the party who makes it whether police or accused. If under Section 227 what is necessary and relevant is only the record produced in terms of Section 173 of the Code, the accused cannot at that stage invoke Section 91 to seek production of any document to show his innocence. Under Section 91 summons for production of document can be issued by Court and under a written order an officer in charge of police station can also direct production thereof. Section 91 does not confer any right on the accused to produce document in his possession to prove his defence. Section 91 presupposes that when the document is not produced process may be initiated to compel production thereof.