This Article on ‘Trial Under CrPC is written by Subham Banerjee. A 3rd year student from Kingston Law College, and an intern at Legal Upanishad.
A society is comprised of human beings and where there are human beings, the presence of human vices are inevitable because human beings have both good and bad sides. Criminal laws are present to help the society thrive in a peaceful manner by trying to eliminate as much criminal activity as possible. Law needs to be ever changing in accordance with time and the circumstances of the society. India also has its own set of criminal laws, Indian Penal Code being the substantive law, and the Code of Criminal Procedure, being the procedural law.
The Code of Criminal Procedure provides the provisions for the procedure that is to be followed in the pursuance of a case. In this article, one of the main process, which is the trial, will be discussed.
Meaning of Trial:
The word ‘trial’ has not been defined anywhere in the Code of Criminal Procedure, it is a concept. A trial can, generally, be described as the stage in the proceedings of a case when the Judge, before whom the case is proceeding, examines the charges that have been framed against the accused in relation to the case and in this stage various evidences based on the case are shown and arguments carried on and the Judge then after examining all this pronounces his judgment. The trial stage starts after the framing of charges and ends with the judgment.
India, previously, had the concept of jury trial, which is a prevalent concept in the United Kingdom and the United States of America. This was the method where a group of jury members were made to vote what they decided after the proceeding of the case was finished and based on the majority of that vote the judgment was to be pronounced. This system of trial was discontinued after the infamous case of K.M. Nanavati V. State of Maharashtra. Chapters XVIII, XIX, XX, XXI, XXIII, AND XXIV of the Code of Criminal Procedure, 1973 deals with the stage of trial containing the requirements, types and other general provision of trial.
Types of Trial under CrPC:
There are four types of trial that is practiced under the Code of Criminal Procedure, 1973. The distinction between these trials have been made on the basis of the offence committed, which are laid down, vide the provision of the Indian Penal Code, by the Investigation Officer while framing the charges. The four types of trial are as follows:
- Session Trial under CrPC– This trial procedure is undertaken if the offence committed is punishable by more than seven years of imprisonment, or life imprisonment or by death. This trial is conducted in the Court of Sessions, after the case has been forwarded to this court by a magistrate. Chapter XVIII, Sections 225 – 237 of the Code of Criminal Procedure, 1973, provides for the provisions in respect of a trial that is to be conducted before the Sessions Court.
- Warrant Trial under CrPC– This trial is conducted when the case starts with the filing of a F.I.R. in a Police Station or before the Magistrate. A Warrant case involves offences which are punishable with more than two years of imprisonment, or life imprisonment or death penalty. Chapter XIX, Sections 238 – 250 of the Code of Criminal Procedure deals with the trial procedure of a warrant case.
- Summon Trial under CrPC– This type of trial is conducted is carried on when the offence committed is punishable by less than two years of imprisonment. It is not necessary to frame charges in respect of this trial, the Magistrate, vide section 204(1)(a) issues a summon to the accused. The cases under this trial need not follow so many steps and are less formal than session and warrant trial. Chapter XX, Sections 251 – 259 of the Code of Criminal Procedure, deals with the provision relating to trial of summon cases.
- Summary Trial under CrPC– Where cases can have a speedy trial for quick disposal of a case, there this trial is conducted. Basically, simple and less complicated cases are proceeded vide this method of trial. Chapter XXI, Sections 260 – 265, deals with summary trial under CrPC.
Procedures followed in the Trials:
Sessions Trial under CrPC –
The procedure that is followed in a session trial are as follows;
- Section 225 states that this trial has to be conducted by a Public Prosecutor and vide section 226, the Public Prosecutor opens the case and explains the charges that have been framed against the accused;
- The Judge, after hearing the opening statements and the charges framed against the accused explained by the Public Prosecutor and then relating it with the documents and records of the case, thinks that there are not enough material available for the case to continue against the accused, then the Judge has the power to discharge the accused under section 227;
- If the Judge, after considering the facts and documents in relation to the case finds them adequate for further proceeding then the Judge, vide section 228, frames charges and the proceedings start. At this stage, if the Judge, before whom the case has been started, does not hold jurisdiction, he or she has to transfer the case to a higher authority like the Chief Judicial Magistrate or a Judicial Magistrate of a First class, and if he or she has the jurisdiction then must continue further with the case;
- If the accused pleads guilty then vide section 229, the Judge can pronounce his judgment on the case. But if the accused does not plead guilty, then vide section 230, the Judge fixes a date for the prosecution of related evidence to the case;
- Section 231 describes the step after the date has been fixed by the Judge for the prosecution of evidence. The judge vide this section looks after the evidence and can also allow for cross examination if he wants to;
- Vide section 232, if the Judge is not satisfied with the evidences and other facts and figures related to the case, then he or she can acquit the accused;
- If the accused does not get acquitted then vide section 233, the accused has to bring and present evidences in favour of him as his defence;
- Section 234 and 235 deals with the provision which states the procedure of argument and then finally pronouncement of judgment by the Judge for acquittal or conviction of the accused;
- Section 236 states for investigation of any previous conviction of the accused vide provisions of section 211(7);
- Last but not the least, section 237 deals with cases that has been instituted by section 199(2) or Cr.P.C.
Warrant trial under CrPC –
- Sections 238 – 243 deals with the procedure to be followed in case of a F.I.R has been filed before the police and the case proceeds from thereon and sections 244 – 247 deals with cases where the case did not institute before the police station. Sections 248-250 deals with the conclusion of trial;
- In case of police cases, vide section 238, with the compliance of section 207, the Magistrate must be satisfied about the documents that have been sent with the charge sheet;
- The Magistrate has the power to discharge the accused if he does not find any legible ground for his conviction and for that the Magistrate has to record down his reasons vide section 239, but if he thinks it fit then may frame charge vide section 240;
- The Magistrate vide section 241 can convict if the accused pleads guilty but if he does not do so then the evidences are examined by the magistrate which are provided to the Magistrate vide section 242, for the prosecution, and vide section 243, for the defence;
- In case of private complaint, the prosecution has to furnish evidence vide section 244 and if the Magistrate is not satisfied then he may discharge the accused vide section 245 but if the accused is not discharged then the procedures vide section 246 are to be followed and the defence has to furnish their evidence vide section 247.
Summon Trial under CrPC–
- Vide section 251, the substances on the basis of which the person has been accused must be stated to the Magistrate and the accused is asked whether he pleads guilty or not based on those substances;
- Section 252 states the provision to be followed if the accused pleads guilty and section 253 states the provision to be followed where the accused has pleaded guilty through a messenger;
- If the accused does not plead guilty then procedure laid down in section 254 is followed and based on the proceedings judgment is pronounced vide section 255;
- The complainant can also withdraw his complaint before the finishing of the case if the Magistrate is satisfied that the case can be withdrawn;
- The Court has the power to turn a summon case to a warrant case vide section 259.
Summary Trial under CrPC–
- Section 260 states the power of a court to try a case summarily and section 261 states the provision vide which a Magistrate of Second Class can conduct a summary trial;
- Section 262 deals with the procedure to be followed for summary trial which is almost same as of a summon trial;
- If the accused does not plead guilty, then the Magistrate has to record the evidence and provide a brief statement of it while pronouncing his judgment vide section 264;
- Section 263 states the need for recording of statements and section 265 states that the language to be used for recording must be the language of the Court.
Need for Fair Trial:
The Indian Judicial System is often mocked as a very time taking institution. The makers of the laws in India were of the opinion that no innocent person should be convicted. For this they have laid down an extensive system of procedure to be followed so that only the real accused gets convicted. This extensive system also helps the Judge to decide cautiously because the final verdict is depended on the Judge and at the end that person is also a human being only. So, while keeping in mind the concept of fair trial, the Indian law makers have made this system.
From the above discussion it is evident that the Indian Judicial system is extensive. The trial procedure has been divided based on the grievousness of the offence committed and the place of its complaint. Every detail has been minutely put into the Code for better results and as law is subject to change, better and more advanced system can be expected in the future.
- Ayush Verma, April 21, 2020, Types of Trials in the Criminal Procedure Code, 1973, iPleaders, https://blog.ipleaders.in/types-of-trials-in-crpc/
- Ayush Verma, April 18, 2020, Trials Under Code of Criminal Procedure, 1973, iPleaders, https://blog.ipleaders.in/trial-under-code-of-criminal-procedure-1973/
- Justice M.R. Mullick, 2018, Criminal Manual, Professional Book Publishers.