TRIAL PROCEDURE IN CRIMINAL CASES
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Shree Rastogi , Legal News Report
In law, a trial is a coming together of parties to a dispute. A crime or offence (or criminal offence) is an act harmful not only to some individual but also to a community, society or the state (a public wrong).Such acts are forbidden and punishable by law. In simple words, an act and omission that constitutes an offence that may be prosecuted by the state and is punishable by law. The punishment of such crime is decided by the following procedures of criminal trial. India has a well-established statutory, administrative and judicial framework for criminal trials. The entire criminal law consists of three core acts:-
- Indian Penal Code,1860
- Code of Criminal Procedure, 1973
- Indian Evidence Act, 1872
Indian Penal Code, 1860 is the substantive criminal law which defines various crimes/ offences that are punishable in India and prescribes the punishment laid down for commission of that crime/ offence and the Code of Criminal Procedure, 1973 or the Indian Evidence Act, 1872 are the procedural criminal laws for conducting a trial in India. Code of Criminal Procedure lays down the procedure that is to be mandatorily followed while pursuing a case or the process of litigation. It also lays down the procedure to be followed by the police while doing their duty like filling of FIRs, investigation, filing charge sheet, etc. The Indian Evidence Act contains a set of rules and allied issues governing admissibility of evidence in the Indian courts of law.
Indian Penal Code and Code of Criminal Procedure are both together known as “Twin Sisters” of criminal law.
Types of Criminal Trial
According to the Code of Criminal Procedure, a Criminal Trial is divided into three types:-
- Warrant Trial
- Summon Trial
- Summary Trial
Warrant Cases: – Section 2(x) of Code of Criminal Procedure, 1973 defines; a warrant case is one which relates to the offences punishable with death, imprisonment for life or imprisonment for a term exceeding two years. The trial in warrant cases starts whichever by filing of FIR in a police station or by filling a complaint before a magistrate. Later, if the magistrate is satisfied that the offence is punishable for more than two years, he sends the case to the sessions court for trial.
The stages of trial in warrant cases are specified from section 238 to 250 of the code of criminal procedure, 1973.
Stages of Criminal Trial in a Warrant Case: –
- First Information Report: Section 154 of the criminal procedure code talks about FIR or First information Report is registered. FIR puts the case into motion. A FIR is information given by someone (aggrieved) to police relating to commitment of an offense.
- Investigation: After FIR the next step is the investigation by investigating officer. The Investigating officer made conclusion by examining the facts and circumstances, collecting evidence, examining various person and all other necessary steps for completing the investigation and then that conclusion is filed to the magistrate as a police report.
- Charges: After considering the police report and other important documents the court frames charges under which accused is to be trialed. In warrant cases, the charges should be framed in writing.
- Plea of guilty : section 241 of Code of Criminal Procedure, talks about the plea of guilty, after framing of charges to accused is given opportunity to plead guilty, and responsibility lies with the judge to ensure that the plea of guilt was voluntarily made.
- Prosecution evidence: After charges framed and accused pleads guilty, then the court involves the prosecution to produce evidence to prove the guiltiness of the accused. The prosecution is required to support their evidence with the statements from its witnesses. This process is called “examination in chief”.
- Statement of the accused: Section 313 of the criminal procedure code provides an opportunity to accuse to be heard and explain the facts and circumstances of the case. The statements of accused are not recorded under oath and can be used against him in the trial.
- Defense evidence: opportunity is given to the accused where he is not being acquitted to produce so as to defend his case. In India, the burden of proof is on the prosecution the defense, in general, is not required to give any defense evidence.
- Judgment: The final decision of court with reasons given in support of the acquittal or conviction of the accused is known as judgment.
According to section 2(w) of code of criminal proceeding, those cases in which an offense is punishable with an imprisonment of fewer than two years is a summon case. This case does not require the method of preparing the evidence.
Stages of Criminal Trial in a Summon Case:
- Pre-trial: in this stage, the process such as filing of FIR and investigation is conducted.
- Charges: In this trial, charges are not framed in writing. Then accused seemed before the court or is brought before the court then the Magistrate would orally state the facts of the offense he is answerable.
- Plea of guilty and absence of the accused: In cases where the accused wants to plead guilty without appearing in the court, the accused has to send rs.1000/- to the Magistrate (through by post or a messenger(lawyer)).The absentee should also send a letter containing acceptance of guilt and the amount of fine provided in the summons.
- Prosecution and defense evidence: the procedure followed should be very simple elaborate procedures are eliminated. If the accused does not plead guilty, then the process of trail starts. The prosecution and the defense are asked to present evidenced in support of their cases. The Magistrate is also empowered to take the statement of the accused.
- Judgment: when sentence is passed, the parties need not to argue on the amount of punishment given. The sentence is the sole discretion of the judge. If the accused is acquitted, the prosecution has the right to appeal is also extended to the accused.
Those cases in which an offense is punishable with an imprisonment of not more than six months can be tried in a summary way. The summary trials are reserved for small offenses to reduce the burden on courts and reduce the burden on courts and to save time and money. Cases which generally take only one or two hearings to decide the matter comes under this category.
The trial procedure is give from section 260 to 265 of the Code of Criminal Procedure.
- The procedure followed in the summary trail is similar to summons case.
- Imprisonment up to three months can be passed.
- In the judgment, the judge should record the substance of the evidence and a brief statement of the finding of the court with reasons.