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Withdrawal of Prosecution in CrPC

Updated: May 5

Withdrawal of Prosecution in CrPC
Withdrawal of Prosecution in CrPC


Sec. 321 of the Criminal Procedure Code affords the Public Prosecutor or Assistant Public Prosecutor the authority to withdraw from prosecuting an individual, either wholly or for specific offences, with the court's consent before judgement pronouncement.

This provision ensures flexibility in legal proceedings, allowing for the discontinuation of prosecution under certain circumstances.

Nature and Scope of Sec. 321

Sec. 321 embodies the principle of prosecutorial discretion, enabling the Public Prosecutor to exercise judgement in the interest of justice. It allows for the withdrawal of prosecution against an individual, either entirely or for specific offences, subject to certain conditions and judicial oversight.

Conditions for Withdrawal

Withdrawal from prosecution can occur at any stage before the pronouncement of judgement. If withdrawal takes place before charges are framed, it leads to the discharge of the accused. However, if withdrawal occurs after charge framing or when no charge is required, it results in the acquittal of the accused (Sec. 321).


Central Government Approval

In specific scenarios outlined in the proviso to Sec. 321, prior approval from the Central Government is mandated for withdrawal. These scenarios include offences falling under the Union's executive jurisdiction, offences investigated by the Delhi Special Police, or those involving Central Government property misappropriation (Proviso, Sec. 321).

Judicial Scrutiny and Oversight

While Sec. 321 grants prosecutorial discretion, it subjects withdrawal decisions to judicial scrutiny. The court must be informed of the rationale behind the withdrawal, ensuring alignment with the principles of justice (Rajinder K. Jain v State AIR 1980 SC 1510).

Grounds for Withdrawal

Although Sec. 321 doesn't delineate specific grounds for withdrawal, it underscores that withdrawal decisions should serve the interests of the administration of justice.

Factors influencing withdrawal may include the inability to produce sufficient evidence, falsification of prosecution evidence, or other compelling circumstances.

Prosecutorial Discretion and Judicial Oversight

While the power to withdraw rests primarily with the Public Prosecutor, it should be exercised judiciously, free from external influence (Dy. Accountant General AIR 1970 Ker 158 (F.B.)). While reasoned orders aren't mandatory, the court's jurisdiction to permit withdrawal is contingent upon its authority to frame charges ( Paswan v State of Bihar AIR 1983 SC 194).

Limitations and Considerations

Sec. 321 stipulates that withdrawal isn't contingent on the complainant's consent, preserving prosecutorial independence (Saramma Peter v State, 1991 CrLJ 3211 (Ker)). Furthermore, withdrawal petitions are precluded at the appellate stage


Flexibility and Selective Withdrawal

An important aspect of Sec. 321 is its provision for selective withdrawal, allowing the Public Prosecutor to withdraw charges selectively. This flexibility ensures that prosecutorial resources are allocated efficiently while maintaining fairness in legal proceedings.

Sec. 321 of the CrPC embodies the delicate balance between prosecutorial discretion and judicial oversight, ensuring that the withdrawal of prosecution is guided by principles of fairness and justice.

While empowering the Public Prosecutor to make withdrawal decisions, it also subjects such decisions to judicial scrutiny, safeguarding the rights of the accused and the integrity of the legal process.

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