This article briefly explains the process of criminal trial through various stages of a Criminal Trial in India.
Reading time 3 – 4 minutes.
In a warrant case instituted by a Private Complaint:
- On the filing of a complaint, the court examines the complainant and witnesses as to whether any charge shall be made out against the accused person or not.
- After the examination, the Magistrate may order an inquiry into the matter and submit a report for the same.
- After examination of the complaint and the investigation report, the court may conclude whether the complaint is genuine and if the prosecution has sufficient evidence against the accused or not. If the complainant is found to be acting maliciously, or if there is no sufficient material against the accused, the court may dismiss the complaint, otherwise, the court may issue a warrant or a summon – based on the nature of the offense.
In Case FIR is registered:
First Information Report: In case FIR is registered on the occurrence of an incident that puts the case into motion. It is information given by someone/ aggrieved to the police relating to commencing of an offense.
The next step after the filing of the FIR is the investigation by the investigating officer appointed in the matter by the police station in-charge.
If the person against whom a warrant has been issued in case of complaint case, or, a person against whom FIR is registered, and is not arrested, the person may file an Anticipatory Bail before the Court of Sessions or the High Court U/s 438 of Cr.P.C. In case the Sessions court does not grant the bail, then the accused can prefer their pre-arrest bail application before the concerned High Court. In case the accused person is arrested before filing the anticipatory bail application, then the accused can apply for bail by filing regular bail application U/s 439 of Cr.C.
Quashing of FIR U/s 482 of Cr.P.C.:
In case there is no substance in the complaint or FIR, the accused can file for the quashing of such FIR before the Hon’ble High Court and can beg the leave of the court to grant a stay on proceedings against him. The court may, on examination of the merits, decide accordingly.
A police report is a conclusion made by the investigating officer after having examined the facts and circumstances, collecting evidence, examining various persons and taking their statements in writing, and conducting all such other steps as are necessary for completing a fair investigation, including forensic and medical examination, if applicable. Such a conclusion is filed before the magistrate by the police as a police report.
Application for discharge of the accused/ Charges:
An application for discharge of the accused can be filed at the stage of the framing of charges by the court. If after considering the police report, and other important documents, the accused appears guilty to the court, then the court frames charges under which the accused is to be trialed. In a warrant case, the charges are to be framed in writing.
Plea of guilty:
After charges are framed, the accused is given an opportunity to plead guilty – such an opportunity is afforded with an idea that self-realization can reduce sentencing for the accused. If the accused pleads guilty the judge may go ahead with convicting the accused for the offense conducted. Plea of guilty comes under section 241 of CrPC.
Power to proceed against other persons appearing to be guilty of an offense:
According to section 319 of CrPC, where, in the course of any inquiry into, or trial of, an offense, it appears from the evidence that any person not being the accused has committed any offense for which such person could be tried together with the accused, the Court may proceed against such person for the offence which he appears to have committed.
After the charges are framed and the accused pleads not guilty, then the court commences with the trial and requires the prosecution to produce evidence to prove the guilt of the accused. The prosecution is required to support their statements by leading evidence and witnesses to the court. This process is called “examination in chief”. Thereafter the Defence lawyer gets a chance to cross-examine the prosecution witness to challenge the authenticity, reliability, and credibility of the witness before the court. All evidence is to be led in due compliance of the Indian Evidence Act.
Statement of the accused:
Section 313 of the Criminal Procedure Code gives an opportunity to the accused to be heard and to explain the facts and circumstances of the case. The statements of the accused are not recorded under oath and can be used against him in the trial.
In a case where an accused is not being acquitted, an opportunity is afforded to the accused to produce evidence/ witnesses in order to defend their case. The defense also can produce both oral and documentary evidence. All evidence is to be led in due compliance of the Indian Evidence Act.
After the defense evidence is concluded, both the lawyers from the side of prosecution as well as defense engage into arguments to point at their favor and affirm their stand before the court.
When the sentence is pronounced in a summons case, the parties cannot argue on the amount of punishment to be given. Sentencing is at the sole discretion of the judge.
If the accused is acquitted, the prosecution gets the right to appeal. Such right to appeal is also extended to the accused U/s 374 Cr.P.C.
Section 360 Cr.P.C. maintains that when any person not under twenty-one years of age is convicted of an offense punishable with fine only or with imprisonment for a term of seven years or less, or when any person under twenty-one years of age or any woman is convicted of an offense not punishable with death or imprisonment for life, and no previous conviction is proved against the offender, if it appears to the convicting court, regard being had to the age, character or antecedents of the offender, and to the circumstances in which the offense was committed, that it is expedient that the offender should be released on probation of good conduct, the Court may, instead of sentencing him at once to any punishment, direct that he be released on his entering into a bond, with or without sureties, to appear and receive sentence when called upon during such period (not exceeding three years) as the Court may direct and in the meantime to keep the peace and be of good behavior.