A charge sheet is a formal legal document used by law enforcement, like the
police, to officially accuse someone of a crime. It contains details about the
alleged crime, the evidence gathered, and the specific charges against the
This document is crucial in the legal process, as it forms the basis for
prosecuting the accused and helps them understand the charges and prepare a
defense. It also ensures transparency and protects the rights of the accused.
If more evidence is found after the initial charge sheet, a supplementary charge
sheet can be filed with court permission.
The charge sheet must be filed within 60 in case of lower courts and 90 days in
case of sessions court, from the arrest of the accused. If this time limit is
not met, the accused may be granted bail as per Section 167 of the CrPC.
In a recent ruling on April 26, 2023, the Supreme Court Bench of Justices
Krishna Murari and C T Ravikumar emphasized that a charge sheet cannot be filed
solely to delay the accused's right to default bail without completing the
A charge sheet filed without sanction is an incomplete charge sheet and does not
meet the requirement of a police report within the meaning of Section 173(2) of
the CrPC. Such a charge sheet would also not be in consonance with sub section
(5) of Section 173 of the CrPC.
Procedure of Submission of Charge Sheet
When the police finish their investigation, they send a report to the concerned
Magistrate or Judge deputed in this regard, as per Section 173 of the CrPC. This
rule is about how police investigations should be done and reported. Here's a
How to draft a Charge Sheet?
When creating a charge sheet, here are some important points to remember:
Use Pleasant Language:
- Investigations must be done quickly and not delayed unnecessarily.
(1A) If it's a case of child rape, the investigation should ideally be finished within three months from when the police got the information.
- (i) once the investigation is done, the police officer in charge of the case must send a report in the form prescribed by the State Government to the Magistrate or Judge. This report should include:
(ii) The officer must also inform the person who first reported the crime about the actions taken by the police. This communication should be done in the way that the State Government has prescribed.
- Names of the people involved.
- Details of the case.
- Names of people who might know about the case.
- Whether a crime happened and who did it.
- If the accused person was arrested.
- If they were released on bail (with or without sureties).
- If they were sent to jail.
- Whether a medical exam report for the victim (if it's a sexual assault case) is attached where investigation relates to an offence under section 376, 376A, 376B, 376C, 376D, or 376E of the IPC.
- If there's a higher-ranking police officer assigned under section 158 CrPC, and if the State Government says so, the report should go through that higher-ranking officer. This higher-ranking officer can also tell the officer in charge of the police station to do more investigation while waiting for the Magistrate's or Judge's orders.
- Whenever the report sent under this section shows that the accused person has been let go with a bond, the Magistrate must decide what to do with that bond. They can either release it or take some other action they believe is appropriate.
- If the report relates to a case covered by section 170 CrPC, the police officer must send the Magistrate the following along with the report:
- Any documents or important parts of them that the prosecution plans to use as evidence, except for the ones already given to the Magistrate during the investigation.
- Statements recorded under section 161 CrPC from all the people the prosecution intends to call as witnesses.
- If the police officer believes that any part of a statement isn't important for the case or sharing it with the accused isn't necessary for justice and is not in the public interest, they must mark that part and include a note. This note asks the Magistrate to leave out that part when giving copies to the accused, and the officer must explain why they're making this request.
- If the investigating police officer thinks it's suitable, they can provide the accused person with copies of some or all the documents mentioned in subsection (5).
- This section doesn't stop additional investigation into a crime even after sending the initial report to the Magistrate. If the officer in charge of the police station finds more evidence, whether it's in the form of statements or documents, they must send another report to the Magistrate regarding this new evidence. The rules in subsections (2) to (6) should be followed for this new report, just like they would for the initial report sent under subsection (2).
Write in a way that is easy to understand, like telling a
good story. Avoid using confusing or unclear words.
Don't repeat the evidence or statements from the
investigation. Keep it concise.
Stick to Relevant Information:
Include only important details. Don't include
irrelevant information or points.
Request Necessary Warrants:
If the accused is on the run, ask for arrest
warrants. If needed, request processes for proclamation and attachment.
Based on Facts:
Do not assume or presume. Your charge sheet should rely on facts
found during the investigation.
Make sure the charge sheet is neither too long nor too short.
The contents may be quoted by the judge in the final judgment.
Avoid Unnecessary Defence Leverage:
Don't give the defence opportunities to use
the charge sheet in favour of the accused by including material that can't be
proven by the prosecution.
Include Necessary Authorizations:
If the law requires authorization from certain
authorities, get it and attach it to the charge sheet, mentioning it in the
Address Accused's Defence:
If the accused presented a defence or alibi during
the investigation, mention it in the charge sheet along with the investigator's
findings to counter it.
Consider Enhanced Punishment:
Don't forget about enhanced punishment under
Section 75 of the Indian Penal Code (IPC). If it's relevant, specify it in the
charge sheet and note previous convictions in the last paragraph.
Memorandum of Evidence
The Memorandum of Evidence accompanying charge sheet is a crucial document with
significance for police officers, prosecutors, and the legal system. It serves
as a concise summary of witnesses and their expected testimonies, offering
valuable insights at a glance. Here's a breakdown of its key components and
The Memorandum of Evidence plays a pivotal role in legal proceedings, providing
an organized list of witnesses and their anticipated statements. It encompasses
a wide range of individuals, including the complainant, victims, eyewitnesses,
circumstantial witnesses, inquest witnesses, observation report contributors,
experts, police officers involved in registering the case, initiating the FIR,
conducting the investigation, and apprehending the accused, as well as the
officer responsible for filing the charge sheet.
These names should be arranged chronologically to reflect the sequence of
The particularly complex cases, such as those involving numerous accused or
intricate scenarios like rioting, murder, gang activities and conspiracies,
demand meticulous preparation of the Memorandum of Evidence.
Charts may be created to facilitate the identification of cases in which
individual accused parties are involved, requiring specific proof.
The document should also offer a succinct historical overview of the case,
detail the committed offenses, list the accused individuals, provide information
about the evidence collected, document the status of material or documentary
evidence, and describe their disposition or current stage.
Typically, investigating officers are responsible for drafting the initial
charge sheet, subject to review by Assistant Public Prosecutors (APPs).Prior to
submitting the charge sheet, these charges should be approved by the concerned
APP or, in sessions cases, by the relevant Public Prosecutors (PPs), and their
recommendations should be incorporated into the document.
Documents to Accompany the Charge Sheet
Alongside the charge sheet, the prosecution must submit all relevant documents,
or extracts thereof, which they intend to rely upon in court.
Additionally, copies of statements recorded under Section 161 of the CrPC from
all individuals the prosecution intends to call as witnesses in court should be
If applicable, any prior convictions of the accused under Section 75 of the
Indian Penal Code (IPC) must be appended.
Providing Copies to the Accused
Section 207 of the CrPC says that if a case starts because of a charge sheet,
the judge must give the accused person some important papers for free. These
This is a document from the police that outlines the charges
against the accused.
FIR (First Information Report):
This is the first report the police make when
they receive information about a crime. It contains details about the case.
If the accused person confessed to the crime in front of a
Magistrate, that statement should be given to them.
Statements of Witnesses:
The statements of people who will testify in court for
the prosecution should also be given to the accused. However, if the police
request to keep some parts of these statements secret, the judge can decide
whether to allow it or not.
If any of these documents are very long, the judge can ask the accused or their
lawyer to look at them in court instead of making copies.
However, the Memorandum of Evidence, which lists all the prosecution witnesses
and their addresses, does not need to be given to the accused. Just providing a
list of the witnesses is enough.
According to the law (CrPC), it's the job of the trial or committal Magistrate
(the judge) to give these documents to the accused. Before Section 207 of CrPC
was introduced in 1973, the police used to give copies of all documents to the
accused under Section 173(4) and (5) of CrPC. Even after Section 207 was
introduced, the police continued to give copies to the accused.
In most cases, copies of these documents must be given to all the accused unless
the accused's lawyer is okay with just one or two copies. This is because
Subsection (7) of Section 173 of CrPC says that if the police find it hard to
give all the documents, they can choose which ones to give. Many trial judges
have been asking the prosecution (the lawyers for the government) to provide
copies of the documents because they don't have enough staff and supplies.
It's also a good practice to give copies of all these documents to the
prosecutors. They need them to prepare for the prosecution (the case against the
Points to be remembered while drafting a Good Charge Sheet
Preparing a good charge sheet is crucial in the criminal justice system, as it
serves as the foundation for prosecuting an individual.
To create an effective
charge sheet, law enforcement officers and investigators should follow these
Briefly Summarize the Complaint:
Start with a concise overview of the complaint
that initiated the investigation.
Describe the Evidence:
Explain the nature of both direct and indirect evidence
that has been collected during the investigation.
Mention who among the accused has been arrested and their
current status (released on bail or sent to judicial custody).
Discuss Searches and Seizures:
If any searches were conducted and items were
seized, provide details.
Outline the sequence of events in chronological order to
help understand how the alleged offences unfolded.
Specify Offences and Roles:
Describe the various offences committed by the
accused, especially if there are multiple accused. Explain the role each played
Thoroughly Investigate the Case:
Conduct a comprehensive and impartial
investigation, gathering all available evidence, including witness statements,
physical evidence, and digital records. Ensure all leads are explored and
evidence is collected in accordance with legal procedures.
Understand the Law:
Familiarize yourself with the relevant criminal statutes and
legal requirements for the charges you intend to file. Consult with legal
experts if necessary.
Maintain detailed and accurate records of the
investigation, including dates, times, locations, and individuals involved.
Document the witness statements and interviews verbatim whenever possible.
Organize the Charge Sheet:
Format the charge sheet according to the
jurisdiction's standards and regulations. Ensure it includes a clear title, case
number, and date of submission. List the accused's personal information, such as
name, date of birth, and address.
Specify the Charges:
Clearly state the charges against the accused. Ensure that
the charges accurately reflect the evidence and the elements of the crime.
Present the Evidence:
Provide a summary of the evidence supporting the charges.
This may include witness statements, forensic evidence, surveillance footage, or
any other relevant materials. Cite the sources of evidence and the chain of
custody to demonstrate its reliability.
Include a Narrative of the Offence:
Write a concise but comprehensive narrative
that outlines the sequence of events leading to the alleged crime. Include
dates, times, locations, and the roles of all parties involved.
Detail of the arrest and rights of the accused:
Describe the circumstances of
the arrest of the accused, including the place, date and time. Confirm that the
accused has been advised of his right to remain silent and of his right to
Witness List and Contact Information:
Provide a list of witnesses who may
testify during the trial. Include their names, contact information, and a brief
summary of their statement. Note any expert witnesses and their qualifications.
Attach relevant documents:
Attach copies of relevant documents such as search
warrants, arrest warrants, seizure list or lab reports. That all attachments are
properly labeled and organized should be ensured.
Review and Proofreading: Carefully review your billing for accuracy, clarity,
and completeness. Remove any grammatical errors, typos or inconsistencies.
Consult with prosecutors:
Work with prosecutors to ensure that the prosecution
aligns with their legal strategy and meets their expectations.
Submission and Filing:
File the charges with the appropriate authorities, which
may include the prosecutor's office or a judge. Follow the prescribed procedures
for filing charges within the prescribed time frame.
Maintain Chain of Custody: Continue to secure and maintain the integrity of all
physical evidence during the trial.
Prepare for Trial:
Be prepared to testify in court if necessary and provide a
coherent and accurate account of the investigation and the evidence presented in
Additionally, if new evidence comes to light after the initial charge sheet, you
can file a second charge sheet based on those new facts. This allows for a more
complete and accurate presentation of the case under Section 173(3) CPC.
Common mistakes made by Investigating Officers when filing Charge Sheets
Investigating officers play a key role in the criminal justice system and any
mistake made in the filing of charges can have serious consequences for the
prosecution and the accused. Here are some common mistakes that investigating
officers may make when filing charges:
Lack of Evidence:
One of the most serious mistakes is filing charges without
sufficient evidence to prove the guilt of the accused beyond reasonable doubt.
Insufficient evidence can lead to charges being dropped or acquittals during the
Violation of Legal Procedures:
Investigating officers must follow proper legal
procedures and guidelines when collecting evidence, conducting interviews, and
making arrests. Any violation of these procedures may result in the exclusion of
evidence and may jeopardize the case.
Incomplete investigation of all aspects of a case,
including potential witnesses, leads, and evidence, can result in incomplete
charges and can hinder the prosecution's ability to prove guilt.
Inaccurate or incomplete documentation:
Proper documentation of evidence,
witness statements, and investigative steps are essential. Errors in recording
or not documenting crucial information can weaken a case.
Failure to preserve evidence:
Mishandling or failure to preserve physical
evidence can lead to its damage or loss, which can seriously undermine a case.
Delay in filing charge sheet:
Filing charges after a significant delay can have
legal consequences such as violating the accused's right to a speedy trial.
Inconsistent Statements: Making inconsistent or contradictory statements in the
charge sheet can raise questions about the credibility of the investigation.
Bias or Prejudice:
Investigating officers must remain impartial and objective
during investigations. Any hint of bias or prejudice can damage the integrity of
Failure to inform the accused of his rights: Investigating officers must ensure
that the accused is informed of his rights, including the right to remain silent
and the right to counsel during the investigation.
Failure to follow the chain of custody:
Strict adherence to the chain of custody
is essential when handling and preserving evidence. Failure to follow this chain
can lead to issues regarding the integrity of the evidence.
Charging an individual with the wrong crime or providing
incorrect information in a charge sheet can lead to legal complications and may
require an amendment to the charge.
Lack of coordination with prosecutors:
Ineffective communication with
prosecutors during the charge preparation process can lead to misunderstandings
and hinder a prosecutor's ability to present a strong case in court.
The Kerala High Court has recently held that there is no embargo on the
prosecution producing the relevant document even after the final report or
charge sheet has been submitted with the permission of the court. Justice Raja
Vijayaraghavan V relied on the decision of the Supreme Court in Central Bureau
of Investigation v. R.S. Pai and others [2002 (5) SCC 82] and held that if the
investigating officer commits an error in not producing any relevant document at
the time of filing the report or charge sheet, the investigating officer can
produce it with the permission of the court.
In Rama Chaudhary v. State of Bihar
(2009) 6 SCC 346 the Hon'ble Apex Court held
"further enquiry" within the meaning of the provisions of Section 173(8) CPC is
additional; more; or supplementary. Thus, a 'further investigation' is a
continuation of an earlier investigation and not a fresh investigation or an
investigation to be initiated ab initio to completely wipe out the earlier
In the case of Hardeep Singh v. State of Punjab
AIR 2014 SC 1400, a Constitution
bench of Chief Justice P. Sathasivam, Justice B.S Chauhan, Justice Ranjana
Prakash Desai, Justice Ranjan Gogoi and Justice S.A. Bobde said, "A person not
named in the FIR or a person who is named in the FIR but has not been charged or
a person who has been acquitted can be summoned under Section 319 CrPC if the
evidence shows that such person can be tried along with the accused , who is
already on trial. "
Delivering the verdict, Justice Chauhan said, "In the case of an accused, who
has been discharged, the requirement of Sections 300 and 398 of the CrPC must be
fulfilled before he can be summoned again." On Friday, January 20, 2023, the
Supreme Court ruled on a PIL filed by journalist Saurav Das that the charge
sheets are not "public documents" and allowing them to be freely accessed by the
public violates provisions of the Code of Criminal Procedure, 1973 as it
jeopardizes the rights of the accused, the victim and the investigating
authorities. A two-judge bench of Justice MR Shah and Justice CT Ravikumar also
warned against the possibility of "misuse" before dismissing the PIL seeking
directions to the police or investigative agencies like the ED or the CBI.
The mistakes in submission of charge sheet can not only weaken the prosecution's
case, but can also result in legal consequences for the investigating officer.
Therefore, it is imperative that investigating officers follow established
procedures, maintain professionalism and seek legal assistance when necessary to
avoid these mistakes when filing charge sheets. A well-prepared charge sheet is
essential for a successful prosecution. It should provide a clear and convincing
narrative of the case supported by credible evidence while following all legal
requirements and procedures. Cooperation with lawyers and adherence to ethical
standards are essential throughout the process.
Written By: Md. Imran Wahab
- Person not named in FIR, charge sheet can be tried: SC, IANS, New Delhi, January 10, 2014
- Andhra Pradesh Police Academy, First Course in Investigation.
- P. Venkatesh, Police Diaries, Statements, Reports and Investigations, Premier Publishing Company, Allahabad.
- R. Deb, Principles of Criminology, Criminal Law and Investigation, S.C. Sarkar & Sons, Calcutta.
, IPS, IGP, Provisioning, West Bengal
Email: [email protected]
, Ph no: 9836576565