From Justice Definitions Project

What is a Charge-Sheet?

A charge-sheet is an investigating officer’s final report under Section 173 of the Code of Criminal Procedure, 1973 (“CrPC”). In a criminal case, upon the completion of investigation of the matter by the police, the investigating officer (IO) is required to submit the charge-sheet to the Magistrate.

The charge-sheet should contain the following information:

  1. Names of the parties
  2. The nature of the information
  3. The names of persons who are acquainted with the circumstances of the case (such as witnesses)
  4. Whether any offence appears to have been committed and if so, by whom
  5. Whether the accused has been arrested
  6. Whether the accused has been released on bond
  7. Whether the accused has been forwarded in custody under Section 170.

Time limit for filing charge-sheet: According to section 167, CrPC, a chargesheet needs to be filed within 90 days from the date of arrest of the accused in cases where the investigation relates to an offence punishable with death, imprisonment for life or imprisonment for a term of not less than ten years, and 60 days in cases of other offenses. The time line may vary according to state laws or under special statutes.

Furthermore, vide section 167, CrPC, an accused will be entitled to bail by default, if the investigating authority fails to file charge sheet within the stipulated time period. This right to bail is not merely a statutory right, but is a fundamental right that flows from Article 21 of the Constitution of India.[1] Once the charge sheet has been submitted to a court of law, the trial can begin.

Official Definition of Charge-Sheet

The expressions "charge sheet" or "final report" are not used in the CrPC, but the Supreme Court, in K. Veeraswami v. Union of India & Ors.[2], defined charge-sheet as:

“The charge-sheet is nothing but a final report of the police officer under s. 173(2) of the Cr.P.C.  Section 173(2) provides that on completion of the investigation the police officer investigating into a cognizable Offence shall submit a report, which must be in the form prescribed by the State Government. The statutory requirement of the report under S.173(2) would be complied with if the various details    prescribed therein are included in the report and it accompanies all the documents and statements of witnesses as required by s. 172(5) Cr. P.C.”

Further, in Abhinandan Jha v. Dinesh Mishra[3], the Supreme Court noted:

“It will be seen that the Code, as such, does not use the expression 'charge-sheet' or 'final report'. But it is understood, in the Police Manual containing Rules and Regulations, that a report by the Police, filed under s. 170 of the Code, is referred to as a 'charge-sheet'.”

The investigating officer gathers information from all parties concerned with the alleged crime during the investigation and prepares a report, which he files in court as a charge-sheet[4]. The charge-sheet under Section 173(2), CrPC purports to be an opinion of the investigating officer that he has been able to procure sufficient material for the trial of the accused by the Court. The report needs to be accompanied with all the documents and statements of witnesses required by Section 175(5), CrPC. The details of the offence are required to be proved in the course of the trial by adducing acceptable evidence.

Section 173(2), Sub-clauses (a) to (h), CrPC stipulates the details that are to be contained in the report. These include inter alia details pertaining to the names of the informant/complainant, the accused and victim; details of the witness; items or articles seized; date, time and place of occurrence of the crime; the name of the investigating officer; details of medical reports if made; the FIR number; the true findings of the case diary etc.

Supplementary charge-sheet: Supplementary charge-sheet can be filed under Section 173 (8) of the CrPC in cases where the officer in charge obtains further evidence in the case. This provision was introduced in the CrPC as per the recommendations of the 41st Law Commission Report, to ensure that the investigating agency completes the investigation within the prescribed time limit, failing which no accused could be detained if they are willing to avail bail.[5]

The Supreme Court, in Ritu Chhabaria v. Union of India,[6] held that filing incomplete supplementary charge-sheet just before the completion of the stipulated 60-day period without completing investigation would not extinguish the the right of the accused to get default bail. Filing of supplementary chargesheets should not be used as a means of curbing the default right of bail, a balance must be drawn and pre-emptive safeguards must be put up through law to protect accused persons from the same.

Quashing of chargesheet: A criminal proceeding, including FIR and charge-sheet can be quashed by the High Court under its inherent powers under Section 482, CrPC, if the allegations made or the evidence collected, though remaining uncontroverted, do not disclose the commission of a crime.

Furnishing Accused Copies: A copy of the charge-sheet, along with copies of the FIR, statements recorded under Sections 161 and 164, and any other relevant document needs to be supplied to the accused per Section 207, CrPC, in cases where a proceeding has been instituted on the basis of such a police report.

Chargesheet as defined in Government reports

In the 41st Law Commission Report on 'The Code of Criminal Procedure, 1898’ published in September 1969, it was recommended that the right of the police to make further investigation should be statutorily affirmed (Clause 14.23)[7]. Thereafter, sub-section 8 of Section 173, CrPC was introduced through an amendment, which includes a provision for filing supplementary charge-sheet.

Appearance in Official Databases

The Supreme Court, in Saurav Das v. Union of India[8], held that a charge-sheet filed by investigating agencies in court is not a public document. Courts cannot direct it to be put in a public domain. A charge-sheet does not fall under the ambit of Section 4(1)(b) of the Right to Information Act, it cannot be revealed under this Act. Further, a charge-sheet cannot be said to be public documents within the definition of ‘public documents’ under Section 74 of the Indian Evidence Act, 1872.

National Crime Records Bureau (“NCRB”) statistics[9] publish the rate of charge-sheeting and the number of cases charge-sheeted for various crimes are laid down. Data pertaining to cases charge-sheeted by different states and union territories, number of cases charge-sheeted out of cases during the year and from the previous year are also laid down by the NCRB. For this purpose, the charge-sheeting rate is cases charge-sheeted/total cases disposed off by police * 100.

At a glance - IPC Crimes over the years 1981 - 2021.[Source: Crime In India 2021, Statistics, NCBR. Available at:]
Disposal of IPC Cases by Police & Court. [Source: Crime In India 2021, Statistics, NCBR. Available at:]
Disposal of SLL Cases by Police & Court. [Source: Crime In India 2021, Statistics, NCBR. Available at:]

NCRB data also contains data pertaining to charge-sheets for each crime head and time taken for submitting the charge-sheet in each crime category.

Time taken for disposal of cases by the investigating agency [Source: Crime In India 2021, Statistics, Volume III, NCBR. Available at:]
Time taken for submitting Final Report by the Investigating Agency [Source: Crime In India 2021, Statistics, Volume III, NCBR. Available at:]

Research that engages with Charge-Sheet

The Status of Policing in India Report 2018: A Study of Performance and Perceptions[10] finds that over a period of five years, across 22 Indian states and union territories (UTs), the disposal of cases by the police (based on an index which includes charge-sheeting rates and percentage of cases investigated by the police) is better than the disposal of cases by the court (based on an index which includes conviction rate and percentage of cases tried by the court). Further, four parameters were used to calculate the disposal index of different categories of crimes, one parameter being the charge-sheeting rate. It was found that in more than half of the studied states and UTs, the disposal of cases of crimes against SCs, STs and children was poorer than the disposal of total cognizable crimes (Chapter 1, SPIR 2018).

A 2009 study by Dutta and Husain finds that high rates of charge-sheeting act as a deterrence to reduce crimes[11]. Similar results are borne out by a study conducted by Hazra (2020), which states that charge-sheeting rate is an important deterrence factor influencing crime rates in India.[12]

Regional Variations

Reports sent under Section 169, CrPC, i.e., when there is no sufficient evidence to justify the forwarding of the accused to a Magistrate, are termed variously, in different States, as either ‘referred charge’, ‘final report’, or ‘summary’.[13] Additionally, the timeline within which a charge-sheet needs to be filed depends on the state and also upon various special laws that may be applicable.

Also Known As

The term charge-sheet is written across documents in difference variations such as ‘chargesheet’ or ‘charge sheet’. However, the official documents refer to it as charge-sheet.


  1. Ritu Chhabaria v. Union of India, 2023 SCC OnLine SC 502
  2. K Veeraswami v. Union of India and ors., 1991 SCR (3) 189
  3. Abhinandan Jha & Ors. v. Dinesh Mishra, 1967(3) SCR 668
  4. K. Veeraswami v. Union of India & Ors., 1991 SCC (3) 655
  5. M. Ravindran v. Directorate Of Revenue Intelligence, (2021) 2 SCC 485
  6. Ritu Chhabaria v. Union of India, 2023 SCC OnLine SC 502
  7. Available at
  8. Saurav Das v. Union of India, 2023 SCC OnLine SC 58
  9. Available at (Crime in India 2021, NCBR)
  10. Available at
  11. Available at
  12. Available at
  13. Abhinandan Jha & Ors. v. Dinesh Mishra, 1967(3) SCR 668
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