Criminal Trial

The Code of Criminal Procedure, 1973 (the CrPC) is the procedural law providing the machinery for punishment of offenders under the substantive criminal law, be it the Indian Penal Code, 1860 or any other penal statute.

The CrPC contains elaborate details about the procedure to be followed in every investigation, inquiry and trial, for every offence under the Indian Penal Code or under any other law. It divides the procedure to be followed for administration of criminal justice into three stages: namely investigation, inquiry and trial.

Trial is the judicial adjudication of a person’s guilt or innocence. Under CrPC, criminal trials have been categorized into three divisions having different procedures, called warrant, summons and summary trials.

A warrant case relates to offences punishable with death, imprisonment for life or imprisonment for a term exceeding two years. CrPC provides for two types of procedure for the trial of warrant cases by a magistrate, triable by a magistrate, viz., those instituted upon a police report and those instituted upon complaint. In respect of cases instituted on police report, it provides for the magistrate to discharge the accused upon consideration of the police report and documents sent with it. In respect of the cases instituted otherwise than on police report, the magistrate hears the prosecution and takes the evidence. If there is no case, the accused is discharged. If the accused is not discharged, the magistrate holds regular trial after framing the charge, etc. In respect of offences punishable with death, life imprisonment or imprisonment for a term exceeding seven years, the trial is conducted in a sessions court after being committed or forwarded to the court by a magistrate.

A summons case means a case relating to an offence not being a warrant case, implying all cases relating to offences punishable with imprisonment not exceeding two years. In respect of summons cases, there is no need to frame a charge. The court gives substance of the accusation, which is called “notice”, to the accused when the person appears in pursuance to the summons. The court has the power to convert a summons case into a warrant case, if the magistrate thinks that it is in the interest of justice.

The high court may empower magistrates of first class to try certain offences in a summary way. Second class magistrates can summarily try an offence only if punishable only with a fine or imprisonment for a term not exceeding six months. In a summary trial, no sentence of imprisonment for a term exceeding three months can be passed in any conviction. The particulars of the summary trial are entered in the record of the court. In every case tried summarily in which the accused does not plead guilty, the magistrate records the substance of the evidence and a judgment containing a brief statement of the reasons for the finding.

The common features of the trials in all three of the aforementioned procedures may be roughly broken into the following distinct stages:

1.                   Framing of charge or giving of notice

2.                   Recording of prosecution evidence

3.                   Statement of accused

4.                   Defence evidence

5.                   Final arguments

6.                   Judgment

CrPC also contains detailed provisions for compounding of offences. It lists various compoundable offences under the Indian Penal Code, of which 21 may be compounded by the specified aggrieved party without the permission of the court and 36 that can be compounded only after securing the permission of the court. Compounding of offences brings a trial to an end.

Under CrPC an accused can also be withdrawn from prosecution at any stage of trial with the permission of the court. If the accused is allowed to be withdrawn from prosecution prior to framing of charge, this is a discharge, while in cases where such withdrawal is allowed after framing of charge, it is acquittal.

Apart from criminal trials, we also file applications and petitions before the High Court on behalf of our clients for quashing of First Information Reports (FIRs) and criminal trials, appeals, revisions, suspension of punishments etc.

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