By Divyanshi Singh Choudhary ~ Symbiosis Law School, Hyderabad.
It is a well-established fact that the “courts of law established in India have numerous trial procedures for different offences under the legislation”. It becomes very imperative that the “terminology of the trial be comprehended at all the levels”. In a criminal trial per se, a competent jury inspects whether the evidence contested before them against the defendant proves him guilty beyond the realms of reasonable doubt. “The sides of the case have to present their side of the arguments advanced in front of a just jury”, which later on reiterates the judgment wisely. The code provides different procedures depending upon the nature of the offences, for instance, “the crime is serious then the trial for it would be convoluted”, but if the same is of lesser gravity, the trial for it would be less detailed. Broadly speaking, the offences can be rightly categorized into two significant heads, namely, Summons cases and Warrant cases.
In addition to, “any offence the punishment for the same is awarding either taking away someone’s life or life imprisonment, or even imprisonment, the punishment” for which “exceeds two years span can be called as a Warrant case”. On the other hand, a summons case includes those cases whereby the punishment awarded by “the court is of less than two years”. Due to this, the trial procedure for warrant cases is much more complicated than the trial provided for summons cases. Hence, strictly speaking, the type of trial procedure depends clearly upon the categorization of offences under the code.
The instant legislation has laid down broadly four kinds of trial procedures, Trials before a session court which is also known as a Sessions trial; trials of cases of warrants exercised by Magistrates or Warrant trials; trials of summons cases by the Honorable Magistrates or
Summons trial and lastly Summary trials. It is duly accepted that “the first two forms of trials are for Warrant cases and the last two have been provided for Summons cases”.
The instant article shall be an in-depth understanding of the different kinds of trial procedures, as explained above. The empirical research conducted for the instant topic would help me analyze a good number of case laws as a researcher that has been decided by various courts from time to time. The primary purpose of this study is that I’ll get detailed knowledge about the kinds of procedures under the code, which will even help me with my future endeavours. As the research paper will be an authentic work, it will be not only beneficial to many scholars but also an immense number of academicians for a credible reference.
HISTORY OF THE TRIAL PROCEDURE IN INDIA
The journey of trial in the Indian sub-continent finds its way back to the year 1665; the case was of a British woman named Ascentia Dawes who was duly booked for the charge of murder contested against her for she had murdered her salve girl. It all started from this case of a British woman, and the said Jury trials were put to an end by the very prominent case of KM Nanavati v State of Maharashtra, though it is very important to point out that this case was not the last case that led to the end of Jury trials in India, it was the most celebrated case which eventually led to the cessation of Jury trials in the Indian domain.
With the advancement of the East India Company into the Indian Nation, this stated system of Jury trials was rightly settled into two parts; first was introduced in the presidency towns namely, Bombay, Madras, and Calcutta, and the second being implemented in the areas that fell outside the ambit of the presidency towns.
Subsequently, in the year 1860, the esteemed Government of India adopted the Indian Penal code, which was made effective from the year 1862; this legislation authorized the necessary criminal jury only in the High Courts that fell within the jurisdiction of the presidencies.
Since then, the nation has seen great evolvement in the Indian Legal system, which has not only improvised the administration of criminal justice but also has provided for the development of the Indian Judicial System.
The court has laid down these trial procedures, as explained under:
1. TRIAL BEFORE A SESSIONS COURT OR SESSIONS TRIAL:
The type of trial procedure adopted depends upon the categorization of offences. The legal provisions for this type of trial are given in Chapter XVIII of the Code of Criminal Procedure, starting from section 225 to section 237 of the code. These provisions specifically deal with the procedure that governs the trial before a Court of Session. This court has to mainly go through three stages of a trial, which are enlisted below:
- FIRST STAGE OF TRIAL: In this stated court a, “Public Prosecutor has to conduct every trial”. The court of sessions can not only entertain matter under section 199 of the legislation but also can take cognizance of matters that are described as grievous offences. To further be more lucid, this court is placed at the district level which is there to provide its service for matters that are grave. The accused in question is brought before the court of law to prove his guilt. The foremost work of the Public Prosecutor is, “to bring forth the evidence before the court to establish the guilt of the accused”.
In the case of Banwari v. State of Uttar Pradesh, the Honorable Supreme Court, in this case, held that the session’s court has no power whatsoever to drop the charges that have been contested against the accused. Under Section 226, the Public Prosecutor has been given the power to alter or add or even frame a charge.
Section 227 of the code, if after the examination of the evidence presented in the court and the submission of the accused is duly recorded, and the Judge is of the view that there are not sufficient numbers of grounds; “he shall discharge the accused in question, along with stating the reasons for the same”. Sometimes, it also happens that after the examination of the accused the court opines that there was sufficient evidence against the accused, then such a court will frame a charge in writing against the accused; but if the said case cannot be tried by this court, then it shall automatically be transferred to Chief Judicial Magistrate or any Judicial Magistrate of the first class. Section 228 clearly states, the framed charges are to be further read aloud and clear in front of the accused, using an easily comprehendible language, and the accused in question is also asked if he pleads guilty for the charges brought against him or not.
- SECOND STAGE OF TRIAL: If the accused is well-informed with the framed charges, and pleads guilty for the charges then the Judge shall record his submission and convict him accordingly. The Judge has been given the power of discretion but it is expected out of the Judge that the accused is not directly convicted, by using this power. The required course of action would be to allow the Prosecution to prove its case by bringing in concrete evidence before the court, as given under Section 229 of Cr.P.C. Also, Section 230 talks about the situation when the accused refuses to accept the charges under section 299, then in such a case the Judge shall appoint a date to further examine the pieces of evidence or even if any document needs to be produced before the court.
- THIRD STAGE OF TRIAL: The acquittal of the accused shall rest upon the fact if “the judge is of the view that after the production of the evidence, there is no evidence which proves the guilt of the accused“. The prosecution while giving the evidence has to make sure that the court was rightly justified in framing off, the charges, and then the defense council shall have the right to adduce evidence before the court to support his client. This is the underlining principle of section 233 of the Code of Criminal Procedure. After hearing the closing statements of both the parties to the case, the court will deliver its final judgment, keeping in mind all the evidence produced.
TRIAL OF WARRANT CASES BY MAGISTRATES OR WARRANT TRIAL:
For this kind, Chapter XIX of Cr. P.C from section 238-250, the provisions for warrant trials are given. Mainly two procedures are prescribed for this form; one whereby the cases are instituted on police reports and the other where cases are instituted other than police reports, for instance, private complaint.
- FIRST STAGE OF TRIAL: Following section 207, the Magistrate in question must make sure that he has got all the required documents, along with the charge sheet, as per the powers conferred to him under section 238. After examining the charge sheet filed under section 173, the Magistrate is of the viewpoint that the charges hold no ground, then in such a case, he can discharge the accused, after giving the proper reasons. This has been reiterated in section 239 of the code. Similarly, under section 240, the Magistrate has the power to frame charges if he believes that the accused is triable.
In the case of the State of U.P v. Lakshmi, Brahman the court reiterated the principle mentioned above and held that the duty cast upon the Magistrate in question has to be wisely and judiciously used.
- SECOND STAGE OF TRIAL: After a charge has been rightly framed under section 240 the same has to be proved by the Magistrate under section 242; under sub-section
(3) the magistrate has to further entertain all the shreds of evidence that might prove beneficial to the prosecution. The provisions enlisted under section 243 are so imperative that it applies to the cases instituted under police report and even private complaint, hence proving its importance.
In the case of Vijay Raj vs the  and P.Saravanan vs State represented by the Inspector of Police, in both the cases at hand it was stated that the acceptance of the accused to the charges must be unambiguous, clear, and lucid. Not only should his admission be clear but also the language in which the charges have been read out to him must not have a single shadow of a doubt.
- FIRST STAGE OF TRIAL: Section 244 tells us that if a case has been instituted based on a private complaint and the accused in question is produced before the Magistrate, in such a case the prosecution must convince itself with the evidence contested before the court and can subsequently issue a summon to any of the involved witnesses, asking him to produce all the necessary documents. After entertaining the evidence brought in the court, it is upon the Magistrate to discharge the accused, if he believes that the case seems groundless on any of the previous stages. This has been mentioned in section 245 of the Code of Criminal Procedure, 1973.
- SECOND STAGE OF TRIAL: Section 247 gives the defense counsel the power to present his evidence to help the accused. In the case of Narpat Singh vs Anr, the court made it clear that it was necessary to register a case against the accused and subsequently carrying out the investigation was mandatory under the provision of section 156(3) of the Cr.P.C.
2. TRIAL OF SUMMONS CASES BY MAGISTRATE OR SUMMONS TRIAL:
Section 252-259 specifically deals with the provisions of a summons trial, which have been given under Chapter XX of the code.
- FIRST STAGE OF THE TRIAL: As per section 251 of the legislation, once “the accused has appeared before the Magistrate, he must be read out the offences for which he is booked under and should be asked if he pleads guilty for the said offences”19. Also, when the accused has been served with a summon under Section 206, and he pleads guilty thereof without being produced before the concerned Magistrate, he shall duly transmit to the Magistrate either via post or through messenger. Section 253 further gives some discretionary powers to the Magistrate concerning the payment of fine stated in his summons. In the case of Biru Ram vs Ishar Singh & Anr20, the court of law opined that nothing in the given sections stops a Magistrate from discharging the accused if he feels that the grounds enlisted are not sufficient. There might be cases when the accused is not convicted as prescribed under section 252 or 203 of the code, in such a case, the Magistrate shall allow the evidence produced by the prosecution or shall even be vested with the power to issue summons to any of the witnesses asking him to produce any required document before the court.
- SECOND STAGE OF TRIAL: If in any given case, the Magistrate is satisfied that the evidence produced before him would suffice the conviction of the accused, then the same will be convicted under Section 252 or 255 of the code; and whereby the Magistrate has entertained some evidence under Section 254 and the further evidence collected finds him not so much guilty, then in such a case, the order of acquittal of the said accused must be recorded. The withdrawal of the complaint has been dealt with under Section 257, whereby it is held that if the complainant is successful in establishing some concrete grounds for the withdrawal, the same can be allowed by the Magistrate.
3. SUMMARY TRIALS:
Chapter XXI of the Code deals with summary trials, given under Section 260-265. The main motto of such kind of trial is to deal with the matter speedily. Section 262 starts with the procedure that has to be adopted is similar to that of a summons trial. No chance of appeal can be given in the case whereby a sentence of fine does not exceed by two hundred rupees. As per Section 264, in every given case of a summary trial if the accused doesn’t plead guilty then the Magistrate in question must record the evidence and the Judgment delivered must also have a crisp statement of the reason for it coming in a specific finding. Section 265 emphasizes the fact that every record under section 263, including the evidence and the Judgment, must be recorded in the language used in that particular court of law.
In the case of Shivaji Sampat Jagtap vs. Rajan Hiralal Arora and J.V.Baharuni vs. the State of Gujarat, 201 , the Honorable High Court of Bombay held that any unpleasant remarks made in the court and causing disturbance to the initiation of proceedings under section 250 of the legislation against the petitioners of the case, would amount to “severe violation of principles of Natural Justice”.
To sum up, all the contentions raised, the current article has mostly covered all the crucial and essential aspects of in regards to the concept of ‘trial‘, the knowledge of which the author feels are not only imperative for law students but also any layman. In the Indian sub-continent, the criminal system has reformed a lot over some time, expanding its ambit of offences and punishments to be awarded for each. Each kind of trial procedure has its importance, and it is important that being law students, one should know about the crux of the trial procedures that are adopted by the Indian Courts.
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