As per section 174 of the Code of Criminal Procedure, 1973, a report which is made by the police officers after completion of the final investigation is known as the chargesheet. The report is related to the crime which is held against the plaintiff by the accused in order to collect the evidence. This report includes all the procedures from the time a crime is reported to the place where crime has happened. This report has to be submitted in the court of law for starting a criminal procedure against the accused.
However, as per section 154 of the Code of Criminal Procedure, 1973, an FIR is the First Information Report that is reported orally and it has to be recorded in a written form by the in-charge of the police station. This report has to be signed by the informant and a copy of the report has to be given to them. FIR is filed when a cognizable offense has taken place.
What do you mean by the cognizable offense?
As per section 2(c) of the Code of Criminal Procedure, 1973, means any offense which is in accordance with the first schedule a police officer on the report of such information can arrest the offender without presenting the warrant. The crimes that are related to the cognizable offenses are rape, dowry death, dowry, murder, kidnapping, etc. that are serious in nature.
For instance, A person caused the death of person B and a person C filed an F.I.R in a nearby police station, in this situation whosoever would be the in-charge of the police station will write an F.I.R and could arrest A for causing the death of B without presenting an arrest warrant. The final report will be submitted in the court for further criminal proceedings and this final report of investigation is known as chargesheet.
In Lalita Kumari vs. the state of U.P., 2013[i] case, the Supreme Court has observed that “the police officer cannot avoid his duty of registering offense if the cognizable offense is disclosed. Action must be taken against erring officers who do not register the FIR if information received by him discloses a cognizable offense.”
In the State of Andhra Pradesh vs. Punati Ramulu and Others AIR 1993 SC 2644[ii] case, the Supreme Court has observed that “It was certainly a dereliction of duty on the part of the constable because any lack of territorial jurisdiction could not have prevented the constable from recording information about the cognizable offense and forwarding the same to the police station having jurisdiction over the area in which the crime was said to have been committed.”
Hence, any crime if it qualifies as a cognizable offense it is the duty of the police officer to mention the information in the general dairy even if the crime that has taken place does not fall under its jurisdiction.
How an F.I.R and a chargesheet play an important role in any investigation and decision?
In the legal system of India, both an F.I.R and a charge sheet play an important role for starting an investigation against the accused and for collecting the whole process of the investigation which has to be presented so that the proceeding of any criminal offense could take place in the court of law.
The importance of filing an F.I.R is the following:
- An F.I.R is an important document that sets the base of any criminal offense as on that basis only the commencement of the investigation takes place.
- It is known as the First Information Report because when a cognizable offense has happened the informant who makes a statement about it in the police station is assumed to have a fresh memory about the incident.
- The fabrication of the information is less likely to happen.
- As soon as an F.I.R is filed the police start the investigation.
- An FIR can be filed by the victim or an eye-witness or someone who is stranger to the offense that took place.
- On the basis of the statement given by the prosecutor, the accused person is cross-examined by the officer-in-charge.
However, the importance of a charge sheet is the following:
- A charge sheet is an essential document from which a criminal proceeding starts in the court against the accused or the defendant.
- It includes the statement of the informant and the accused, the charges that are maintained upon him under the IPC or any other act and summary of the incident.
- Through the charge sheet, the accuser also comes to know about the charges that are placed on him.
- Against whom the charges are placed, he has to be present at the time of the court proceeding, even if he is innocent.
- In absence of the charge sheet, no criminal proceeding can take place.
How to file a charge sheet in the court?
For filling a charge sheet the investigating office after investigating the offense that is related to the cognizable offense and then the officer-in-charge will submit the report in the court. The court after taking the note of the whole matter will issue summon or a warrant. A summon is an official notice of the order to appear in the court of law[iii].
Can a charge sheet be quashed?
Yes. A charge sheet can be quashed by the High Court as per section 483 of the Code of Criminal Proceedings, 1973, under this section the court has an inherent power to make any court that may be necessary to prevent the abuse of the power and to secure the ends of the justice[iv]. The followings are the ground on which a charge sheet can be quashed:
- When the merits of an FIR that is filed by the plaintiff against the accused cannot be proved in the court.
- When the F.I.R is filled with false allegations and the court is satisfied with the findings of the case that the motive filing a false was to fulfill one’s revenge or for disturbing the life of the accused or for defaming him.
- When an F.I.R that is filed does not fall under the cognizable offense and the office in-charge filed an F.I.R without taking permission of the magistrate as per section 155 of the Code of Criminal Procedure, 1973.
- The charge sheet under when which the summon is ordered by the court, on proceeding the court finds out that the section under which a person is charged is not liable under it.
Therefore, there are a few instances where the High court has quashed the charge sheet. In the Joseph Salvaraj A. vs. State of Gujarat & Ors. 2011case[v], the court has “we are of the considered opinion that the prosecution of the Appellant for the commission of the alleged offenses would be a clear abuse of the process of law. The FIR under the circumstances deserves to be quashed at the threshold.”
The motive of quashing the charge sheet was also made clear in the Devendra Vs. The State of U.P., 2009 (7) SCC 495 case, where the court has observed that “A distinction must be made between a civil wrong and a criminal wrong. When a dispute between the parties constitutes only a civil wrong and not a criminal wrong, the courts would not permit a person to be harassed although no case for taking cognizance of the offense has been made out.”
An FIR and A charge sheet both are an essential document for proceeding with a crime that is lodged against the defendant. Although law also protects those against whom wrong allegations are filed.
“The views of the authors are personal“