JOINDER OF CHARGES

Author: Vrushti Sanghvi, 2nd Year, LLB, Jitendra Chauhan College of Law, Mumbai
  • INTRODUCTION:

Chapter XVII of the Code of Criminal Procedure of 1973[1] deals with “The Charges” which is further divided into two sub-parts:

  1. Forms of Charges.
  2. Joinder of Charges.[2]

Each part is further divided into sections and further into sub-section. Part A of this chapter deals with the forms of Charges from Section 211 to 217 defining that each charge that is alleged against the person shall be stated under this section so the alleged accused is aware of the charges that have been initiated against him/her at the beginning of the trial.

While, our main focus will be on the principle of Joinder of Charges, Section 218 to 224 of the CrPC of 1973. Joinder of Charges means an Accused can be charged with more than one charge in the same trial which he is alleged to commit over a span of one year. Although, in K. Satwant Singh vs. The State of Punjab[3], the bench ruled that Joinder of Charges can’t be compelling on an individual. But, only in a few circumstances can a court consider the same for an efficient judicial administration.

  • ❖    SECTION 218 OF THE CODE OF CRIMINAL PROCEDURE:

Section 218 of the Code of Criminal Procedure (CrPC)[4] provides for separate charges under distinct offences. The Section 218 Sub-Section (1) objective is to provide a general rule stating that each charge against an Accused should be considered distinct and should be charged differently, Rather than a cumulative charge of all the offences committed. This section simply states that the doer should be punished for each offence separately. Whereas, Section 218 Sub-Section (2) carves out an exception made to Section 218 (1). It says that the provisions of Sub-Section (1) shall not be applicable to Section 219, 220, 221, and 223 of the Code of Criminal Procedure (CrPC). All these sections talk about Joinder of Charge and overrides section 218(1).

  • SECTION 219 OF THE CODE OF CRIMINAL PROCEDURE:

Section 219 of the Code of Criminal Procedure (CrPC)[5] is an exception mentioned in the above Section 218 (2). This section implies three offences of the same kind over a period of one year may be charged together. If a person has committed a series of offences which are presented as the same kind, the person can be tried in the same trial. The two important essentials of this section are:

  • The offences committed shouldn’t exceed more than three offences of the same kind.
    • A time frame of one year shouldn’t be violated.

If any of the above conditions are overruled, the Accused person shall not be convicted for the same offences in the same trial and doesn’t result in the Joinder of Charges.

  • SECTION 220 OF THE CODE OF CRIMINAL PROCEDURE:

The Section 220 of the Code of Criminal Procedure (CrPC)[6] is another exception laid out in Section 218 (2) which lays down that Trial shall be granted for more than one offence. Section 220 (1) says that if more than one offence has been committed in a course of single transaction, the Accused shall be charged with all the offences committed in the same trial. Whereas, the word “transaction” has not been defined in the Code. While, Section 220 (2) provides another criteria for exception, i.e., during a criminal breach of trust or misappropriation often it takes place with falsification of accounts resulting in two offences[7] taken place to fulfil one another.  This gives power to the Court to try both the offences simultaneously in a single trial.  Section 220 (3) states that if a crime committed falls under two or more definitions of  separate laws shall be tried as in the same trial. The section excludes anything that affects the Section 71 of the Indian Penal Code (45 of 1860).

  • SECTION 221 OF THE CODE OF CRIMINAL PROCEDURE:

In many situations, the case isn’t clear as to what crime has been committed. In situations where there is a slightest doubt of what offence has been committed, Section 221[8] comes in handy. This is also an exception mentioned above. The two features of this section are:

  • If there is a doubt in the nature of the crime committed, he may be charged with either one or all of the crimes constituting that one offence and he may be tried for the offences in a single trial.
    • In a case where during an on-going trial, new evidence emerges of an offence which he hasn’t been charged off shall also be ground for punishing those offences.

Illustration: In the case mentioned, A is only charged with theft. It appears that he committed the offence of criminal breach of trust, or that of receiving stolen goods. He may be convicted of criminal breach of trust or of receiving stolen goods (as the case may be), though he was not charged with such offence.

  • SECTION 222 OF THE CODE OF CRIMINAL PROCEDURE:

This section isn’t excluded from Section 218 (1) and doesn’t constitute an exception. It states that conviction of an offence not charged when such offence is included in the offence charged meaning that even if a person isn’t committed to the offences he’s charged with, he still can be charged with “minor offences.” Minor offences are those offences which have surfaced during a trial. And thus, even if not initially charged with such offences, a minor offence is enough to punish the accused.

  • SECTION 223 OF THE CODE OF CRIMINAL PROCEDURE:

In Section 223 of the Code of Criminal Procedure (CrPC)[9], A wide array of scope has been laid out that shall include what person can be charged jointly under this section. The people that can be charged are:

  • When a person accused has committed offences in the same course or transaction.
    • When a person is accused of committing or abatement or an attempt to commit such an offence.
    • When a person is accused of more than one offence of the same kind, within the meaning of section 219 committed by them jointly within the period of twelve months.
    • Persons accused of any offence under Chapter XII of the Indian Penal Code (45 of 1860).
  • SECTION 224 OF THE CODE OF CRIMINAL PROCEDURE:

In Section 224 of the Code of Criminal Procedure (CrPC)[10], it majorly lays its focus on the withdrawal of the charges that are remaining on conviction on other several charges charged. The said Section clearly states that a person, when framed with more than one charge and when a conviction has been had on one or more, the remaining charges, other than the one charged for, can be withdrawn by the Complainant or the Officer conducting the prosecution, with the consent of the court. Simultaneous effect of an acquittal shall be upheld on the withdrawal of such charge or charges unless the conviction is set aside. The said court can proceed with the enquiry or trial of, the said charges or the charges that are withdrawn.

  • LANDMARK JUDGMENTS AND CASE LAWS:
  • Shah Himatlal Amulkh and Anr. vs. The State[11] was a case which consisted of embezzlement of three different sums of money and falsification of accounts over a period of 12 months. Thus, Section 222 (2) was applied on 15 July, 1954.
  • Birichh Bhuian And Others vs. State Of Bihar[12] where sections 221 and 223 were along with other charges from Indian Penal Code on 20 November, 1962.
  1. Aftab Ahmad Khan vs. The State of Hyderabad, [13]the bench stated that to save the accused from embarrassment of different trials for different offences, Joinder of Charges was applied on 6 May, 1954. 

  • CONCLUSION:

Framing of the charges forms the core of any trial. Any case is considered baseless without a charge being framed. The first step in any trial is to frame charges based on the crime committed by the accused. This helps to provide a fair and just chance to both the parties involved to fight and prove their stance during a trial. Joinder of Charges, on other hand, helps in providing an effective and fast administration work on part of judiciary. The court doesn’t have to conduct different trials for different cases. The judge has the power to decide the charges based on the case prima facie and levy the punishment accordingly. As levying of charges is an important part to serve justice, an undue amount of care should be taken to ensure a steady and impartial map for justice. Thus, Section 218 to Section 224 forms the crux of any trial. 

Any case made is baseless without any actual charge that the accused has committed. During a trial, framing of charges is the utmost important process to provide just and fairness to every person. If the person is wrongly charged during the trial, the whole point of truthfulness is down the vain. It is the judge’s power to decide the charges based on the case prima facie and levy a punishment for the offences committed. Thus, undue amount of care should be taken for framing of charges to any given person for a steady and impartial judgement for the crimes committed.


[1] The Code of Criminal Procedure Act, 1973 Act of Parliament (1973).

[2] Ibid. 1

[3]K. Satwant Singh vs. The State Of Punjab, (1960) AIR 266 (India).

[4] Ibid. 1

[5] Supra 1.

[6] Supra 1.

[7] R.V. Kelkar’s Criminal Procedure, published by Eastern Book Company, Sixth Edition Reprinted 2015

[8] Supra. 1.

[9] Supra. 1.

[10] Supra. 1.

[11] Shah Himatlal Amulkh and Anr. vs. The State, (1955) Cri.L.J. 1399 (India).

[12] Birichh Bhuian and Others vs. State Of Bihar, (1963) AIR 1120 (India).

[13] Aftab Ahmad Khan vs. The State of Hyderabad, (1955) SCR 588 (India).


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