whether non-framing of charge has caused prejudice in the present case. In order to judge whether a failure of justice has been occasioned, it is relevant to examine whether the accused was aware of the basic ingredients of the offence for which he is being convicted and whether they were explained to him and whether he got a fair chance to defend. The crux of the issue is whether in this case, omission to frame charge under Section 302 IPC has vitiated conviction of the appellant/accused. = the appellant has not raised the objection as to nonframing of charges at the earliest point of time namely the trial court and the first appellate court – High Court. – It is also to be pointed out that in the High Court, the appellant has not raised any grievance as to non-framing of charge under Section 302 read with Section 34 IPC and that it has caused prejudice to him. On the other hand, the learned counsel appearing for the appellant only contended that the appellant Kamil ought not to have been convicted by invoking the principle of vicarious liability enshrined by Section 34 IPC. All these aspects clearly show that the appellant clearly understood that charge under Section 302 read with Section 34 IPC has been framed against him and throughout he has been defending himself only for the charge under Section 302 IPC. In such facts and circumstances, it cannot be said that the failure of justice has occasioned to him and the absence of a charge under Section 302 read with Section 34 IPC cannot be said to have caused any prejudice to him.

REPORTABLE
IN THE SUPREME COURT OF INDIA
CRIMINAL APPELLATE JURISDICTION
CRIMINAL APPEAL NO.1568 OF 2015
KAMIL …..Appellant
VERSUS
STATE OF UTTAR PRADESH …..Respondent
J U D G M E N T
R. BANUMATHI, J.
This appeal arises out of the judgment dated 28.07.2014
passed by the High Court of Allahabad in Criminal Appeal No.1047
of 1989 in and by which the High Court has dismissed the appeal
filed by the appellant thereby affirming his conviction under Section
302 IPC and for other offences and sentence of life imprisonment
imposed upon him passed by the trial court.
2. Brief facts of the case are that on 03.01.1986 at about
09.00 AM, complainant-Baboo Khan (PW-3) who is the maternal
uncle of deceased Akhlaq was informed by his father that his
sister’s daughter Parveen had gone to fetch water from the tank
where accused Rashid (A1) and Adil (A3) had misbehaved with her.
1
However, no further action was taken by them to save their
reputation. On the same day, at around 04.00 PM, when
complainant/PW-3 along with his nephew deceased Akhlaq and
Aadil Hussain (PW-2) were going towards his shop, they saw
accused Rashid armed with knife, Nasir (A2) armed with hockey,
accused Adil and appellant-Kamil (A4) armed with danda in their
hands coming towards them and surrounded PW-1, deceased
Akhlaq and PW-3. Thereafter, appellant-Kamil gave a danda blow
on the head of PW-2 and when deceased Akhlaq tried to snatch the
hockey stick from accused Nasir, appellant-Kamil also gave a
danda blow on the head of deceased from behind and when he
tried to run away, accused Nasir and Adil caught hold of deceased
and thereafter accused Rashid stabbed the knife in the chest of
deceased on which deceased fell down on the ground with the knife
which was stabbed on his chest. On raising alarm by PW-3, Jamal
Uddin (PW-1) along with other people came there for help.
Thereafter, all the accused ran away and deceased was taken to
the hospital, where he died. Upon completion of investigation,
charge sheet was filed against the accused persons.
3. Charges were framed against the accused under Sections
302, 302 read with Section 34, 323 and 323 read with Section 34
2
IPC. To bring home the guilt of the accused, the prosecution
examined eight witnesses and exhibited number of documents.
4. Upon consideration of evidence adduced, the trial court vide
its judgment dated 01.05.1989 convicted the accused as under:-
Accused Conviction Sentence
Rashid (A1) Section 302 IPC
Section 323 read with Section 34
IPC
Life Imprisonment
One month R.I.
Nasir (A2) Section 302 read with Section 34
IPC
Section 323 read with Section 34
IPC
Life Imprisonment
One month R.I.
Adil (A3) Section 302 read with Section 34
IPC
Section 323 read with Section 34
IPC
Life Imprisonment
One month R.I.
Kamil (A4) Section 302 read with Section 34
IPC
Section 323 IPC
Life Imprisonment
One month R.I.
5. Being aggrieved, the appellant/accused filed appeal before
the High Court which came to be dismissed vide impugned
judgment dated 28.07.2014. Further, appeal preferred by the
accused Nasir before the Supreme Court in SLP(Crl) No.9886 of
2014 was dismissed vide order dated 22.01.2015.
6. Prosecution relies upon the evidence of eye-witness
Babu/Baboo Khan (PW-3), Jamaluddin (PW-1) and Aadil (PW-2)
who have categorically stated that on the date of incident i.e on
03.01.1986 at 04.00 PM, PW-3 along with his nephew deceased
Akhlaq and Adil Hussain (PW-2) was going to his shop at Jogipura
3
and when they reached near the temple at Lalpur, they saw all the
four accused persons standing and waiting for them. PW-3 further
deposed that at that time accused Rashid was having knife in his
hand whereas accused Nasir and Kamil were having hockey and
danda in their hands respectively. Immediately thereafter,
appellant/accused Kamil gave a danda blow on the head of Adil
Hussain (PW-2). When deceased Akhlaq tried to snatch hockey
stick from accused Nasir, appellant/accused Kamil gave a danda
blow on the head of deceased Akhlaq from behind. When deceased
Akhlaq tried to run away in order to escape himself, accused Nasir
and Adil caught hold of his both hands and at the same time,
appellant/accused Kamil assaulted Adil (PW-2) with danda. When
PW-3 snatched danda from appellant/accused Kamil and tried to
retaliate to the attack with the same danda, accused Rashid pierced
knife in the chest of deceased Akhlaq. At this, PW-3 shouted for
help and on hearing this, Jamaluddin (PW-1), Afsar Ali Khan and
Shamshad Hussain who were taking tea at the stall of PW-3 rushed
towards the spot. On seeing them, accused persons fled away from
the spot. Thereafter, PW-3 took a cycle-rickshaw and took
deceased Akhlaq to district hospital. Deceased Akhlaq was
struggling for his life as the knife was still penetrated in his heart.
PW-3 deposed that he himself took out the knife from the chest of
4
deceased. In the hospital, deceased succumbed to injuries. The
evidence of PW-3 and injured eye-witnesses Aadil Hussain (PW-2)
and Jamaluddin (PW-1) is cogent and consistent.
7. Contention of the appellant is that charge under Section 302
IPC was not framed against him and therefore the conviction of the
appellant/accused under Section 302 IPC is not maintainable.
Contention of the appellant is that non-framing of charge under
Section 302 IPC has caused prejudice to him. It was further
submitted that even though the question being a substantive
question, the appellant is at liberty to raise the same at any stage.
8. Placing reliance upon Section 464 Cr.P.C., learned counsel
appearing for the respondent-State submitted that a conviction
would be valid even if there is any omission to frame charge
provided it has not occasioned a “failure of justice”. Taking us
through the judgment of the trial court and the High Court, the
learned counsel submitted that the appellant was well-aware of the
gist of charges under Section 302 IPC against him and in fact the
appellant has taken the “plea of alibi”. It was submitted that even if
there was absence of charge, the appellant has not proved “failure
of justice” has in fact been occasioned and the conviction of the
appellant recorded by the concurrent findings of the trial court and
the High Court under Section 302 IPC cannot be interfered.
5
9. We have considered the rival contentions and perused the
impugned judgment and materials placed on record.
10. Section 464 of the Code relates to the effect of omission to
frame, or absence of, or error, in charge. Sub-section (1) thereof
provides that no finding, sentence or order of a court of competent
jurisdiction shall be deemed invalid merely on the ground that no
charge was framed or on the ground of any error, omission or
irregularity in the charge including any misjoinder of charge, unless,
in the opinion of the court of appeal, confirmation or revision, a
failure of justice has in fact been occasioned thereby. Section 464
Cr.P.C. reads as under:-
“464. Effect of omission to frame, or absence of, or error in, charge –
(1) No finding, sentence or order by a Court of competent jurisdiction shall
be deemed invalid merely on the ground that no charge was framed or on
the ground of any error, omission or irregularity in the charge including
any misjoinder of charges, unless, in the opinion of the Court of appeal,
confirmation or revision, a failure of justice has in fact been occasioned
thereby.
(2) If the court of appeal, confirmation or revision is of opinion that a
failure of justice has in fact been occasioned, it may—
(a) in the case of an omission to frame a charge, order that a
charge be framed and that the trial be recommenced from the
point immediately after the framing of the charge;
(b) in the case of an error, omission or irregularity in the charge,
direct a new trial to be had upon a charge framed in whatever
manner it thinks fit.”
11. Absence of charge would vitiate the conviction only if it has
caused prejudice to the accused and has in fact been occasioned
thereby. In Willie (William) Slaney v. State of Madhya Pradesh
AIR 1956 SC 116, the Constitution Bench explained the concept of
6
“prejudice caused to the accused” and “failure of justice” and held as
under:-
“5. Before we proceed to set out our answer and examine the provisions
of the Code, we will pause to observe that the Code is a code of
procedure and, like all procedural laws, is designed to further the ends of
justice and not to frustrate them by the introduction of endless
technicalities. The object of the Code is to ensure that an accused person
gets a full and fair trial along certain well-established and well-understood
lines that accord with our notions of natural justice.
If he does, if he is tried by a competent court, if he is told and clearly
understands the nature of the offence for which he is being tried, if the
case against him is fully and fairly explained to him and he is afforded a
full and fair opportunity of defending himself, then, provided there is
‘substantial’ compliance with the outward forms of the law, mere mistakes
in procedure, mere inconsequential errors and omissions in the trial are
regarded as venal by the Code and the trial is not vitiated unless the
accused can show substantial prejudice. That, broadly speaking, is the
basic principle on which the Code is based. (Underlining added)
12. The Constitution Bench then examined as to whether the
procedure followed by the court has caused actual injustice to the
accused and held as under:-
“12. ……Except where there is something so vital as to cut at the root of
jurisdiction or so abhorrent to what one might term natural justice, the
matter resolves itself to a question of prejudice. Some violations of the
Code will be so obvious that they will speak for themselves as, for
example, a refusal to give the accused a hearing, a refusal to allow him to
defend himself, a refusal to explain the nature of the charge to him and so
forth. These go to the foundations of natural justice and would be struck
down as illegal forthwith. It hardly matters whether this is because
prejudice is then patent or because it is so abhorrent to well-established
notions of natural justice that a trial of that kind is only a mockery of a trial
and not of the kind envisaged by the laws of our land, because either way
they would be struck down at once. Other violations will not be so obvious
and it may be possible to show that having regard to all that occurred no
prejudice was occasioned or that there was no reasonable probability of
prejudice. In still another class of case, the matter may be so near the
border line that very slight evidence of a reasonable possibility of
prejudice would swing the balance in favour of the accused.
43. ….. Every reasonable presumption must be made in favour of an
accused person; he must be given the benefit of every reasonable doubt.
The same broad principles of justice and fair play must be brought to bear
when determining a matter of prejudice as in adjudging guilt. But when all
is said and done, what we are concerned to see is whether the accused
had a fair trial, whether he knew what he was being tried for, whether the
main facts sought to be established against him were explained to him
fairly and clearly and whether he was given a full and fair chance to
7
defend himself. If all these elements are there and no prejudice is shown,
the conviction must stand whatever the irregularities whether traceable to
the charge or to a want of one.”
13. Following the Constitution Bench in Willie Slaney case, the
bench of three Judges of this Court in Gurbachan Singh v. State of
Punjab, AIR 1957 SC 623 observed that the Court is not to looking
into technicalities, but to the substance and held as under:-
“7. …..in judging a question of prejudice, as of guilt, courts must act with a
broad vision and look to the substance and not to technicalities, and their
main concern should be to see whether the accused had a fair trial,
whether he knew what he was being tried for, whether the main facts
sought to be established against him were explained to him fairly and
clearly and whether he was given a full and fair chance to defend
himself…….”
14. After considering the meaning of the expression “failure of
justice” and after referring to the Constitution Bench in Willie
Slaney and Gurbachan Singh, this Court in Main Pal v. State of
Haryana (2010) 10 SCC 130, held as under:-
15. In Shamnsaheb M. Multtani v. State of Karnataka (2001) 2 SCC 577,
this Court considered the meaning of the expression “failure of justice”
occurring in Section 464 Cr.PC. This Court held thus:
“……
22. … a conviction would be valid even if there is any omission or
irregularity in the charge, provided it did not occasion a failure of
justice.
23. … The criminal court, particularly the superior court should
make a close examination to ascertain whether there was really a
failure of justice or whether it is only a camouflage.
……..”
16. The above principles are reiterated in several decisions of this Court,
including State of W.B. and Another v. Laisal Haque and Others (1989) 3
SCC 166, State of A.P. v. Thakkidiram Reddy and Others (1998) 6 SCC
554, Dalbir Singh v. State of U.P. (2004) 5 SCC 334, Dumpala Chandra
Reddy v. Nimakayala Balireddy and Others (2008) 8 SCC 339 and
Sanichar Sahni v. State of Bihar (2009) 7 SCC 198.
17. The following principles relating to Sections 212, 215 and 464 of the
Code, relevant to this case, become evident from the said enunciations:
8
(i) The object of framing a charge is to enable an accused to have
a clear idea of what he is being tried for and of the essential facts
that he has to meet. The charge must also contain the particulars
of date, time, place and person against whom the offence was
committed, as are reasonably sufficient to give the accused notice
of the matter with which he is charged.
(ii) The accused is entitled to know with certainty and accuracy,
the exact nature of the charge against him, and unless he has
such knowledge, his defence will be prejudiced. Where an
accused is charged with having committed offence against one
person but on the evidence led, he is convicted for committing
offence against another person, without a charge being framed in
respect of it, the accused will be prejudiced, resulting in a failure of
justice. But there will be no prejudice or failure of justice where
there was an error in the charge and the accused was aware of
the error. Such knowledge can be inferred from the defence, that
is, if the defence of the accused showed that he was defending
himself against the real and actual charge and not the erroneous
charge.
(iii) In judging a question of prejudice, as of guilt, the courts must
act with a broad vision and look to the substance and not to the
technicalities, and their main concern should be to see whether
the accused had a fair trial, whether he knew what he was being
tried for, whether the main facts sought to be established against
him were explained to him fairly and clearly, and whether he was
given a full and fair chance to defend himself. (Underlining
added)
15. In Darbara Singh v. State of Punjab (2012) 10 SCC 476, this
Court considered the similar issue and came to the conclusion that
the accused has to satisfy the court that there is any defect in
framing the charge which has prejudiced the cause of the accused
resulting in failure of justice. It is only in that eventuality the court
may interfere. The Court elaborated the law as under:-
“20. The defect in framing of the charges must be so serious that it cannot
be covered under Sections 464/465 Cr.P.C, which provide that, an order
of sentence or conviction shall not be deemed to be invalid only on the
ground that no charge was framed, or that there was some irregularity or
omission or misjoinder of charges, unless the court comes to the
conclusion that there was also, as a consequence, a failure of justice. In
determining whether any error, omission or irregularity in framing the
relevant charges, has led to a failure of justice, the court must have
regard to whether an objection could have been raised at an earlier stage
during the proceedings or not. While judging the question of prejudice or
9
guilt, the court must bear in mind that every accused has a right to a fair
trial, where he is aware of what he is being tried for and where the facts
sought to be established against him, are explained to him fairly and
clearly, and further, where he is given a full and fair chance to defend
himself against the said charge(s).
21. ‘Failure of justice’ is an extremely pliable or facile expression, which
can be made to fit into any situation in any case. The court must
endeavour to find the truth. There would be ‘failure of justice’; not only by
unjust conviction, but also by acquittal of the guilty, as a result of unjust
failure to produce requisite evidence. Of course, the rights of the accused
have to be kept in mind and also safeguarded, but they should not be
overemphasised to the extent of forgetting that the victims also have
rights. It has to be shown that the accused has suffered some disability or
detriment in respect of the protections available to him under the Indian
criminal jurisprudence. ‘Prejudice’ is incapable of being interpreted in its
generic sense and applied to criminal jurisprudence. The plea of prejudice
has to be in relation to investigation or trial, and not with respect to
matters falling outside their scope. Once the accused is able to show that
there has been serious prejudice caused to him, with respect to either of
these aspects, and that the same has defeated the rights available to him
under criminal jurisprudence, then the accused can seek benefit under
the orders of the court. (Vide Rafiq Ahmad alias Rafi v. State of U.P.
(2011) 8 SCC 300, SCC p. 320, para 36; Rattiram and Others v. State of
M.P. Through Inspector of Police (2012) 4 SCC 516 and Bhimanna v.
State of Karnataka (2012) 9 SCC 650)” (Underlining added)
16. The question falling for consideration is whether non-framing
of charge has caused prejudice in the present case. In order to
judge whether a failure of justice has been occasioned, it is relevant
to examine whether the accused was aware of the basic ingredients
of the offence for which he is being convicted and whether they
were explained to him and whether he got a fair chance to defend.
The crux of the issue is whether in this case, omission to frame
charge under Section 302 IPC has vitiated conviction of the
appellant/accused.
17. The charges framed against the accused are as under:-
“Charges
I, C.P. Singh, Special Judge (E.C. Act), Budaun hereby charge you
10
1. Nasir s/o Wali Mohammad r/o Oopar Para P.S. Kotwali, Badaun
2. Adil r/o
3. Kamil s/o Banney Min as follows:-
Firstly:- That you Rashid on 03.01.1986 at about 04.00 PM in
Mohalla Oopar Para near Lalpul Budaun, P.S. Kotwali Budaun, formed
common intention to make murderous assault on Akhlaq and anyone else
who came to his rescue and in furtherance of said common intention
Rashid did commit murder by intentionally causing the death of aforesaid
Akhlaq and you thereby committed an offence punishable under Section
302/34 of the Indian Penal Code and within my cognizance.
Secondly:- That you Adil on aforesaid date, time and place voluntarily
caused Adil and thereby committed an offence punishable under Section
323 of the Indian Penal Code and within my cognizance.
Thirdly:- That on aforesaid date, time and place you Kamil and
Nasir along with Rashid and Adil formed common intention to cause hurt
to Adil and anyone else and in furtherance of said common intention Adil
voluntarily caused hurt to Adil and you thereby committed an offence
punishable under Section 323/34 of the Indian Penal Code and within my
cognizance.
And I hereby direct that you be tried by this court on the said
charges.
(C.P. Singh)
Addl. District Judge,
Special Judge (E.C. Act),
Budaun 18.09.1986”
18. As seen from the above, charge was not framed against the
appellant under Section 302 read with Section 34 IPC. But it is for
the accused to prove that omission to frame charge has occasioned
in a failure of justice. Though specific charge under Section 302
read with Section 34 IPC was not framed, the gist of the charge
sheet filed against the appellant/accused clearly shows that the
accused has been charged for the offence under Section 302 read
with Section 34 IPC as seen from the following:-
“Sir,
On 03.01.1986, the complainant came to the Police Station
Kotwali and orally informed that his niece went to take water from the tap.
11
She was teased by the accused but they did not make it an issue due to
the respect in the society. However, there was an ugly quarrel over there.
He pacified his niece. I along with Adil and Akhlaq today were going to my
shop situated at Jogipuraat about 04.00 PM, when we reached near
Lalpur Mandir, accused mentioned in Column No.2 and 3 were present
there. Kamil was carrying a Danda Nasir was carrying a hockey and
Rashid was carrying knife in their hands. They surrounded us. They
abused my nephew Adil. Adil protested about abusing and said that it
would not be good if you continue. On this accused hit my nephew with
danda. I snatched danda from Kamil to save my nephew. Accused
Nasir and Adil caught hold my nephew and Rashid poked the knife
in his chest. My nephew sat down on the earth and his condition started
deteriorating. I carried him to hospital where he died. On the basis of this
information a crime case No.2/86 u/s 302/323/34 IPC. Accused Rashid
and others were arrested and were sent to jail. Accused Kamil is not
available and the investigation is going on against him. The charge sheet
is filed u/s 302/323/34 IPC against these accused persons. Dated
13.01.1986.”
In the charges framed, even if the appellant and accused Nasir
were charged only under Section 323 read with Section 34 IPC, the
gist of the charge sheet clearly alleges their sharing of common
intention in committing the murder of Akhlaq with the first accused
Rashid.
19. It is pertinent to note that after filing of the charge sheet, case
was committed to the court of Sessions. The trial court has pointed
out that the accused persons were charged under Sections 302,
302/34, 323 and 323/34 IPC to which they pleaded not guilty and
opted for trial. The appellant/accused has thus clearly understood
that charge has been framed against him under Section 302 IPC
read with Section 34 IPC. If really, the appellant was under the
impression that no charge was framed against him under Section
302 read with Section 34 IPC, the appellant would have raised the
12
objection for his committal to the Sessions Court. It is also to be
pointed out that the appellant has not raised the objection as to nonframing
of charges at the earliest point of time namely the trial court
and the first appellate court – High Court.
20. Learned counsel for the appellant made submissions
contending that even the relevant questioning showing sharing of
common intention of the appellant has not been put to the accused
during questioning under Section 313 Cr.P.C. The above contention
does not merit acceptance as seen from the following:-
“Q.4 It has come in the evidence that on 03.01.1986 at about 04.00 PM
near Lal Pul Mandir, you accused Kamil and Nasir carrying danda
and hockey caused injuries to Adil (nephew of witness). You
accused Nasir and Adil caught hold Akhalq and at the instance of
accused Kamil you accused Rashid stabbed the knife in the chest
of Akhlaq and caused murder. What do you say about it?
Ans. It is wrong.”
Question No.5 relates to the lodging of complaint by the informant
Babu. Question No.10 relates to the filing of the charge sheet
against the appellant and other accused. As pointed out in para
(14) above, the gist of the charge sheet clearly alleges sharing of
common intention by the appellant/accused. In our considered view,
the procedure followed by the Court in the instant case has neither
caused prejudice to the appellant nor deprived him of principles of
Natural Justice.
13
21. It is also to be pointed out that in the High Court, the appellant
has not raised any grievance as to non-framing of charge under
Section 302 read with Section 34 IPC and that it has caused
prejudice to him. On the other hand, the learned counsel appearing
for the appellant only contended that the appellant Kamil ought not
to have been convicted by invoking the principle of vicarious liability
enshrined by Section 34 IPC. All these aspects clearly show that
the appellant clearly understood that charge under Section 302 read
with Section 34 IPC has been framed against him and throughout
he has been defending himself only for the charge under Section
302 IPC. In such facts and circumstances, it cannot be said that the
failure of justice has occasioned to him and the absence of a charge
under Section 302 read with Section 34 IPC cannot be said to have
caused any prejudice to him.
22. In Mohan Singh v. State of Bihar (2011) 9 SCC 272, where
the appellants therein for the first time raised the points relating to
errors in framing of charge before the Supreme Court, this Court
held as under:-
“14. In a case where points relating to errors in framing of charge or even
misjoinder of charge are raised before this Court for the first time, such
grievances are not normally considered by this Court. Reference in this
connection may be made to the decision of a three-Judge Bench of this
Court in Mangal Singh and Others v. State of Madhya Bharat AIR 1957
SC 199. Imam, J. delivering a unanimous opinion of the Court held in
para 5 at p. 201 of the Report as follows:
“5. It was, however, urged that there had been misjoinder of
charges. This point does not seem to have been urged in the High
14
Court because there is no reference to it in the judgment of that
Court and does not seem to have been taken in the petition for
special leave. The appellants cannot, therefore, be permitted to
raise this question at this stage.”
23. It is also pertinent to point out that the appeal preferred by
the similarly situated co-accused Nasir has been dismissed by this
Court. A conviction for the substantive offence without a charge
can be set aside only if the accused shows that prejudice has been
caused to him and that “failure of justice” has occasioned thereby.
No such argument was ever made before the trial court or before
the High Court. As discussed above in our considered view, no
prejudice has been caused to the accused nor failure of justice has
been shown to have been occasioned warranting interference with
the impugned judgment.
24. In the result, the appeal is dismissed.
…………….……………J.
[R. BANUMATHI]
…………….……………J.
[INDIRA BANERJEE]
New Delhi;
October 31, 2018
15