Friday, 11 February 2022

Plea Bargain

 Provision of Plea bargaining in CrPC

By Shreya Verma

Plea Bargain has been derived from American Legal System. It has been derived from the principal of 'Nalo Contendere' which literary means 'I do not wish to contend' it is an agreement between prosecution and defence that if the accused instead of pleading not guilty pleads guilty, to the crime he is charged with, his sentence will be reduced. It refers to an arrangement between prosecutor and defendant whereby the defendant pleads guilty to a lesser charge in exchange for a more lenient sentence or an agreement to drop other charges. To reduce some burden of the criminal courts, Law commission had made several recommendations, and, it was only in 2005 that through Criminal law (amendment) Act, 2005, that the concept of plea bargaining was introduced considering this dire urgency to find a solution to the mounting criminal cases that Courts were clearly under-equipped to deal with. Through the said amendments this concept has been added in Chapter XXI A of the Code of criminal Procedure. "Plead Guilty or bargain for lesser sentence" is the straight & shortest possible meaning of plea bargaining. 

Plea Bargain in CrPC: Chapter XXI A of CrPC, that consist of Articles 365 A-365-L deals with Plea Bargain and for a valid disposal on plea bargaining it is important to follow the said procedure contemplated under Chapter.

Plea bargaining is applicable in followin cases:

  1. Where the maximum punishment is imprisonment for 7 years;

  2. Where the offenses don’t affect the socio-economic condition of the country;

  3. When the offenses are not committed against a woman or a child below 14 are excluded.

Plea Bargaining is Applicable in the following cases

  1. A person accused of an offense may file the application of plea bargaining in trails which are pending.

  2. The application for plea bargaining is to be filed by the accused containing brief details about the case relating to which such application is filed. It includes the offences to which the case relates and shall be accompanied by an affidavit sworn by the accused stating therein that he has voluntarily preferred the application, the plea bargaining the nature and extent of the punishment provided under the law for the offence, the plea bargaining in his case that he has not previously been convicted by a court in a case in which he had been charged with the same offence.

  3. The court will thereafter issue the notice to the public prosecutor concerned, investigating officer of the case, the victim of the case and the accused of the date fixed for the plea bargaining.

  4. When the parties appear, the court shall examine the accused in-camera wherein the other parties in the case shall not be present, with the motive to satisfy itself that the accused has filed the application voluntarily.

  5. A mutually satisfactory report has to be made thereafter.

Disposal of the case

Section 265-E prescribes the procedure to be followed in disposing of the cases when a satisfactory disposition of the case is worked out. After completion of proceedings under Section 265-D, by preparing a report signed by the presiding officer of the Court and parties in the meeting, the Court has to hear the parties on the quantum of the punishment or accused entitlement of release on probation of good conduct or after admonition. Court can either release the accused on probation under the provisions of Section 360 of the Code or under the Probation of Offenders Act, 1958 or under any other legal provisions in force or punish the accused, passing the sentence. While punishing the accused, the Court, at its discretion, can pass sentence of minimum punishment, if the law provides such minimum punishment for the offenses committed by the accused or if such minimum punishment is not provided, can pass a sentence of one-fourth of the punishment provided for such offense. 

Such a judgment shall be delivered in an open court and shall be signed by the presiding officer of the Court as per S.265F and it shall be final and non-appealable although the option of filing a special leave petition under A.136 and writ petition under A.226 and A.227 shall still be available with the parties.

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