Principles of Natural Justice III

“Willie (William) Slaney v. State of Madhya Pradesh, AIR 1956 SC 116 explained the concept of ‘prejudice caused to the accused’ and held:

“Trial is not vitiated unless the accused can show substantial 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 would be struck down as illegal forthwith.”

Following the Constitution Bench in Willie Slaney, Bench of Three Judges in Gurbachan Singh v. State of Punjab, AIR 1957 SC 623 observed:

“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.”

In Darbara Singh v. State of Punjab, (2012) 10 SCC 476 this Court came to the conclusion that the accused has to satisfy Court that there is a defect in framing the charge which has prejudiced the cause of the accused resulting in failure of justice. It is only in that eventuality Court may interfere.

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. All aspects clearly show that the appellant clearly understood that charge under Section 302 read with Section 34, IPC had been framed against him and throughout he has been defending himself. In such facts and circumstances, absence of a charge under Section 302 read with Section 34, IPC cannot be said to have caused any prejudice to him.”

Hon’ble Justice R. Banumathi, Kamil v. State of Uttar Pradesh, [Criminal Appeal No. 1568 of 2015].