Process of Trial of Criminal Cases in India

  • Category
    Polity & Governance
  • Published
    27th Aug, 2019

The Central Bureau of Investigation on Wednesday arrested former Finance Minister P. Chidambaram soon after he held a press conference at the Congress headquarters refuting all charges against him in the INX Media case.

Context

The Central Bureau of Investigation on Wednesday arrested former Finance Minister P. Chidambaram soon after he held a press conference at the Congress headquarters refuting all charges against him in the INX Media case.

About

Process of Trial of Criminal Cases in India

India has a well-established statutory, administrative and judicial framework for criminal trials. Indian Penal laws are primarily governed by 3 Acts:

  • The Code of Criminal Procedure, 1973 (Cr.P.C.);
  • The Indian Penal Code, 1960 (IPC);
  • The Indian Evidence Act, 1872 (IEA).

In order to appreciate the process of Indian criminal law, it is necessary that to understand following important terminology:

  • Bailable Offence, means an offence, which has been categorized as bailable, and in case of such offence, bail can be claimed, subject to fulfillment of certain conditions, as a matter of right under Section 436 of the Cr.P.C. In case of bailable offences, the Police is authorised to give bail to the accused at the time of arrest or detention.
  • Non-bailable Offence, means an offence in which the bail cannot be granted as a matter of right, except on the orders of a competent court. In such cases, the accused can apply for grant of bail under Section 437 and 439 of the Cr.P.C. It is important to note that the grant of bail in a non-bailable offence is subject to judicial discretion of the Court, and it has been mandated by the Supreme Court of India that "Bail, not Jail" should be the governing and guiding principle.
  • Anticipatory Bail, under Section 438 of the Cr.P.C., means that a person who apprehends arrest on a wrong accusation of committing a non-bailable offence, can apply before a competent court for a direction to police to immediately release such a person on bail in the event of arrest. However, the grant of anticipatory bail is discretionary and dependant on the nature and gravity of accusations, the antecedents of the applicant and the possibility of the applicant fleeing from justice.
  • Cognizable Offence/case, has been defined under Section 2 (c) of Cr.P.C., as an offence/case in which a Police Office can arrest without a warrant.
  • Non-cognizable Offence/case, has been defined under Section 2 (l) of Cr.P.C., as an offence/case in which a Police Officer has no authority to arrest without a warrant.
  • Whether an offence/case is bailable or not bailable, and cognizable or non-cognizable, has been qualified under the 1st Table of the 1st Schedule of P.C., which relate to the offences under IPC.
  • I.R (first information report), is formal recordal of a complaint, by police in case of commission of a cognizable offence.

Code of Criminal Procedure, 1973 (Cr.P.C.)

  • P.C. is a comprehensive and exhaustive procedural law for conducting a criminal trial in India, including the manner for collection of evidence, examination of witnesses, interrogation of accused, arrests, safeguards and procedure to be adopted by Police and Courts, bail, process of criminal trial, method of conviction, and the rights of the accused for a fair trial.
  • The procedure for a criminal trial in India, is primarily, except as otherwise provided, governed by The Code of Criminal Procedure, 1973 (Cr.P.C.).

Indian Penal Code

  • IPC is the substantive penal law of India, which is applicable to all offences, except as may be provided under any other law in India.

Indian Evidence Act (IEA)

  • IEA is a detailed treaty on the law of "evidence", which can be tendered in trial, manner of production of the evidence in trial, and the evidentiary value, which can be attached to such evidence.
  • IEA also deals with the judicial presumptions, expert and scientific evidence. There are certain other laws, which have been enacted to deal with criminality in special circumstances.

Process

  • FIR is the first step in the process of the investigation of a cognizable offence by Police.
  • After the FIR has been registered by the police authorities, the investigation takes place.
  • During the investigation the police arrests the accused persons involved in the offence
  • Then, he accused shall be produced before the magistrate within 24 hours of arrest (excluding travelling time)
  • Whenever an accused is arrested for any offense and police cannot complete the investigation within 24 hours then such such person is produced before a magistrate for seeking an extension of custody. The magistrate can grant police custody (kept lock-up in police station) to the accused which shall not be more than 15 days in the whole considering the application. However, if the magistrate does not seem convinced then the accused is taken to magisterial custody (Kept in jail).
  • The police after completing the investigation have to file a final report under the CrPC. This is the conclusion of the investigation and the evidence collected by the Investigation Agency. If the evidence collected against the accused is deficient then the police may file a report under section 169 of the Cr.P.C and release the accused on executing a bond and undertaking for appearing the Magistrate empowered to take cognizance. The final report will of 2 types.
    1. Closure Report.
    2. Charge sheet/ Final report
  • A closure report is filed when the police have no evidence to prove that the alleged offense has been committed by an accused.
  • A charge sheet includes the elements of the offense in a prescribed form, and it also contains the complete investigation of the Police authorities and the charges slapped against the accused.
  • The court can reject the charge sheet and discharge the accused or can accept it and frame the charges and, post the case for trial.
  • If the accused pleads guilty, the court shall record the plea and may convict him. If the accused pleads not guilty then the case is posted for trial.

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