Plea Bargaining under Crpc India – Chapter XXI A of the Criminal Procedure Code, 1973 added by the Criminal law amendment Act of 2005 which provides plea bargaining. It came into force on July 5, 2006. Section 265A to 265L, of the Criminal Procedure Code, deals with the concept of Plea Bargaining.
Plea Bargaining under Crpc India
The concept of plea bargaining was first recommended in the 154th report of the law commission.
Its purpose is to find new ways to deal with criminal cases and For this, the Government of India had constituted a committee under the chairmanship of Justice Malimath, former Chief Justice of Karnataka and Kerala High Courts. The Malimath Committee recommended plea bargaining in India.
The purpose of plea bargaining is to reduce the delay in criminal proceedings and to give lesser punishment to the accused of pleading guilty.
History of Plea Bargaining
Plea Bargain is an American concept. It was used in the American judiciary in the early 19th century. In India, It was added by the Criminal law amendment Act of 2005.
Types of Plea Bargaining
- Fact bargaining.
- Sentence bargaining
- Charge bargaining
Meaning – Plea Bargaining under Crpc India
Plea bargaining is an agreement between the accused and the public prosecutor where the accused plead guilty in exchange for certain concessions.
Plea Bargaining in Crpc – Procedure
1)Sec.265A – Application of Chapter
This chapter applies to the accused against whom-
a) The report u/s 173 has been forwarded of the offense for which punishment is not of death, imprisonment for life, or imprisonment for the term exceeding 7 years. or
b) A Magistrate has taken cognizance of offense on a complaint for which punishment is not of death, life imprisonment, or imprisonment for the term exceeding 7 years. & after examining complainant & witnesses u/s 200 and issued the process u/s 204.
The chapter does not apply to –
1) Offences affecting the socio-economic condition of the country
2) offenses committed against women
3) offenses committed against a child below the age of 14 years.
2) Sec.265B – Application for plea bargaining
1)An application may be filed by the accused in court in which such offense is pending trial.
2) Such application contains a brief description of the case & is accompanied by an affidavit by accused
That he has voluntarily preferred for plea bargaining after understanding the nature of punishment for the offense
And also that he has not been previously convicted by the court for the same offense.
3) After receiving such application court issues notice to the public prosecutor or complainant,
And the accused to appear on a date fixed for the case.
4) After the appearance of the above parties on the date the Court examines,
the accused in camera in absence of the other party to satisfy itself that accused has filed such application voluntarily.
AND WHERE –
a) The court is satisfied with such application being voluntarily filed, it provides the time to public prosecutor/complainant
And the accused to work out a mutually satisfactory disposition of the case & thereafter fix the date for the next hearing. This time may include compensation to the victim by the accused and other expenses during the case.
b) The court finds that such application is involuntarily filed or the accused has been convicted previously for the same offense,
it shall proceed in accordance with the stage of application been filed under subsection (1).
Plea Bargaining under Crpc India
3) Sec.265 – C – Guidelines for mutually satisfactory disposition
In working out mutual disposition under clause (a)sub sec.4 of Sec.265B the Court follows procedure i.e.-
a) In a case instituted on a police report, the Court issues notice to :
1) public prosecutor,
2)police officer who investigated a case
3) the accused
4) the victim
to work out mutual satisfactory disposition.
In carrying out such a process it is the duty of the Court to ensure the entire process is completed voluntarily by parties participated in such meetings.
Provided further that, if accused desires he may participate in such meeting with his pleader.
4) Sec.265 D – Report of mutual satisfactory disposition to be submitted before the Court
If mutual disposition is worked out under sec.265C the Court shall prepare a report which has to be signed by
the presiding officer of the Court and all persons participating in such meeting.
If no mutual disposition is worked out the Court shall record observation and proceed further in accordance with provisions from the stage the application is filed under subsec.(1) of Sec. 265B.
5) Sec.265E – Disposal of the case
Where the mutually satisfactory disposition is worked out under Sec.265D the Court disposes of the case in the following manner –
a) The Court shall award compensation to the victim in accordance with the disposition under sec.265D and hear parties on :
1) Quantum of punishment
2) Releasing of accused on probation of good conduct or after admonition u/s 360 or dealing with accused under Probation of Offenders Act, 1958
b) After hearing the parties if the Court is of view that sec.360 or Probation Act,1958 are attracted,
The court may release such accused on probation or provide any such benefit under any law time being in force.
c) After hearing the parties if there is minimum punishment is provided for the offense committed by the accused,
the Court may sentence the accused half of such minimum punishment.
d) In case after hearing the parties the Court finds that offense committed by the accused is not covered,
under clause (b) or clause (c), it may sentence the accused to one-fourth of punishment provided or extendable for such offense.
6) Sec.265F – Judgement of the Court
The Court delivers its judgment in terms of Sec.265E in open court which shall be signed by the presiding officer of Court.
7) Sec.265G – Finality of the Judgment
The judgment delivered by Court shall be final and no appeal shall lie in any Court against such judgment,
except SLP under Article 136 and writ petition under Article 226 & 227 of Constitution.
8) Sec.265H – Power of the Court in plea bargaining
The court shall have all the powers vested in it under the Code in respect of bail,
a trial of offenses and other matters relating to the disposal of the case.
9) Sec. 265 I
The provisions of Sec.428 of Code shall apply in setting off a period of detention undergone by the accused against the sentence of imprisonment imposed under this chapter.
10) Sec.265J – Savings
The provisions of this chapter shall have effect notwithstanding anything inconsistent therewith contained in any other provisions of this code.
11) Sec.265K – Statements of accused not to be used
The statements of the accused in an application for plea bargaining shall not be used for any other purpose except for the purpose of this chapter.
12) Sec.265L – Non Application of Chapter
This chapter of plea bargaining is not applicable to any juvenile or child as defined in clause (k) of section 2 Juvenile Justice Act, 2000.
Advantages of Plea Bargaining
Plea bargaining is a legal process in which a defendant agrees to plead guilty to a specific charge in exchange for certain concessions from the prosecution or the court. This process is commonly used in many criminal justice systems around the world, and it offers several advantages:
Efficiency and Time-saving: Plea bargaining helps to expedite the legal process by avoiding lengthy trials. Courts often have limited resources and face backlogs of cases, so plea bargains can help reduce the burden on the judicial system.
Resource Conservation: Plea bargains help conserve resources by reducing the need for extensive investigations, gathering evidence, and conducting trials. This allows law enforcement agencies, courts, and other legal bodies to allocate their resources more effectively.
Predictable Outcomes: For both the prosecution and the defense, plea bargaining offers a level of predictability in the outcome of the case. Unlike trials, where outcomes can be uncertain due to the involvement of judges, juries, and various factors, plea bargains provide a controlled resolution.
Reduced Risk: Defendants facing serious charges might opt for plea bargains to minimize the risk of being found guilty in a trial and facing potentially harsher penalties. By accepting a plea deal, they might receive a lesser charge or a more lenient sentence.
Certainty and Closure: Both victims and defendants can benefit from the closure that comes with a plea bargain. Victims can avoid the emotional toll of a trial and gain a sense of closure knowing that the case has been resolved. Defendants can also move on with their lives more quickly.
Docket Management: Plea bargains help alleviate the burden on overcrowded court dockets. By resolving cases more efficiently, the judicial system can better manage its caseload and prioritize more serious or complex cases.
Cooperation and Information: In cases where a defendant agrees to provide information or testimony against co-conspirators or accomplices, the prosecution can use the plea bargain as a tool to gather valuable evidence and secure convictions in other related cases.
Reduced Costs: Trials can be expensive for both the prosecution and the defense. Plea bargains can significantly reduce the financial burden associated with court costs, legal fees, and other expenses related to trial preparation.
Flexibility in Sentencing: Plea bargains allow for flexibility in sentencing options. Defendants may negotiate for alternative forms of punishment, such as community service, rehabilitation programs, or probation, which can be more beneficial for them in the long run.
Avoiding Emotional Strain: Trials can be emotionally draining for both victims and defendants. Plea bargains can help avoid the stress and trauma associated with testifying in court, particularly in cases involving sensitive or distressing subject matter.
It’s important to note that while plea bargaining offers these advantages, it also has its critics. Some argue that it can lead to unjust outcomes, coerce innocent defendants into admitting guilt, and undermine the transparency and fairness of the justice system. Balancing these advantages and drawbacks is an ongoing debate within legal circles and society as a whole.
Plea Bargaining in Crpc