Trials of Criminal Offences in India
Prosecution of an offence that is usually a two-step process. Firstly, the police, moves forwarding by, investigating into the complaint that victim has mase. Next, based on the report of the police, and if the evidences are sufficient then, the state will prosecute the accused in a criminal trial where the accused may either be convicted that is, found guilty or acquitted that is, not guilty for any offence.
The CrPC, provides 2 kinds of processes that are to be followed, before the trial of any case starts, first one refers to the instances on the police report, the magistrate may discharge the accused on considering the police reports and documents sent to them. In respect to the instances included in the report other than that on the police report, the magistrate is mandated to hear the prosecution and record evidences.
If there is no case is formed, then the accused is discharged. In both cases, if the accused is not acquitted, the magistrate has the to hold a regular trial after "framing the charges" according to the evidences provided. Under the CrPC, an accused may be withdrawn from prosecution from any stage of the trial with the permission of the court. If the accused is permitted to be withdrawn from prosecution before to framing of charge, this is known as a discharge, when in some cases where such withdrawal is permitted after framing of charges, this is called as an acquittal.
Process of the trial;
Framing of Charges – This marks the commencement of a trial. At this stage, the judge is mandated to look after the evidences that are collected by the police during their investigation to determine whether or not prima facie a case formed against the accused. In case the if the evidences placed before the court are sufficient, then the court frames the charges and proceeds with the trial. But on the opposing side, if the judge founds the collected evidences to be insufficient for proceeding against the accused, then the judge discharges the accused and records no reason for the same. If evidences are sufficient then the framed charges are read over and explained to the accused who may plead guilty or not-guilty after hearing charges. If the accused pleads guilty, then the judge shall record the plea and may convict him for the offence and if he pleads not guilty and claims trial, it is when the trial begins. You may note that the actual trial begins only after the charge has been framed and the process prior to the trial is called inquiry. After the inquiry, the charges are prepared and after the formulation of the charge, trial of the accused begins. A charge is nothing but framing of the accusations made against the person who has to face a trial for committing an offence.
Recording the evidences of the Prosecution – After the charges are framed, the prosecution is asked to question its witnesses before the court. This process is known as examination-in-chief. The accused has a right to cross-examine all the witnesses produced by the prosecution. The CrPC provides the process of examination of witnesses, where once it has begun, it should be continued every day until all the witnesses by-standing have been examined.
Statement of the Accused – The court has the power to examine the accused at any stage of inquiry or trial for the purpose of extracting out any explanation or information against the incriminating instances appearing before him. However, the court is mandated to question the accused after analyzing the proofs of the prosecution, if that incriminates him. This process is without the oath and is before done the accused entering with a defense. The objective of this examination is to provide the accused a with reasonable possibility to explain the incriminating facts and circumstances in the case.
Defense Evidences – If after accepting and reviewing the evidence from the prosecution, after examination of the accused and defense evidences, and if the judge is satisfied that there no evidences or accusations formed against the accused notion of accused committing any offence, the judge is then mandated to record and pass the order of acquittal or discharge. However, when accused is not discharged due to enough evidences on record, in such instances a defence enters and evidences adduced in its support. For this purpose, the defence can examine the witnesses with the accused as well. The witnesses provided by the defence are cross-examined by the prosecution.
Final Arguments – This is considered as the final stage of the trial. The provisions of the CrPC, states that when the process of examination of the witnesses for the defence (if any) is completed, then the prosecutor shall sum up their prosecution case and this is when the accused is required to reply. And these take from of the final arguments in a trial.
Judgements – After the all arguments, and evidences stated in front on the court, by the prosecutor and defence, the judge announces his judgment for the trial.
Most accused people do not lead defence evidences in India. One of the major reasons for this break down is that, the burden or pressure is on the prosecution to prove the offences and the degree of proof required in a criminal trial against the defendant should be proved beyond the reasonable doubt. This degree and standard of proof is quite high for the prosecution to prove their evidences against the defendant. Always it has not been enough for the prosecution to assert and prove that the accused has committed the offence. As the judge must be convinced beyond reasonable doubt that the accused is the one who has committed the offence.
Written By – Manav Puri@LexCliq