PLEA BARGAINING UNDER CRPC (SECTIONS 265A-265L)

by | Oct 31, 2023

PLEA BARGAINING UNDER CRPC (SECTIONS 265A-265L)

PLEA BARGAINING

Plea Bargaining under Criminal Procedure Code,is a legal process in which an accused person negotiates with the prosecution, agreeing to plead guilty to a lesser charge in exchange for concessions. This involves admitting guilt to a reduced offense, while more serious charges are dropped. However, it’s not applicable for heinous crimes or those carrying death or life imprisonment penalties.

THE ROLE OF CRIMINAL PROCEDURE CODE

The concept of Plea Bargaining in India is regulated by Sections 265A to 265L, Chapter XXIA of the Criminal Procedure Code (CrPC).This chapter was introduced through the Criminal Law (Amendment) Act, 2005. It offers the possibility of Plea Bargaining in specific cases :-

  • Maximum Punishment : Plea Bargaining is allowed when the maximum punishment for the offense is imprisonment for seven years or less.
  • Non-Socio Economic Offenses : Offenses that don’t significantly impact the socio-economic condition of the country are eligible for plea bargaining.
  • Exclusion of Crimes Against Women and Children : Crimes committed against women or children under 14 years old are excluded from Plea Bargaining.

HISTORICAL CONTEXT

  • The 154th Report of the Law Commission was the first to recommend the introduction of ‘Plea Bargaining’ in the Indian Criminal Justice System, with the aim of addressing the backlog of criminal cases.
  • A committee, headed by Justice V.S. Malimath, recommended the implementation of the plea bargaining system. The committee highlighted its potential to expedite case disposal and reduce the burden on courts, drawing on the success of the plea bargaining system in the USA.

KEY PROVISIONS OF PLEA BARGAINING

SECTION 265(A) – APPLICATION OF CHAPTER

This section defines the scope of application for the Plea Bargaining chapter and underlines the circumstances under which it is applicable. There are two key scenarios:-

Cases Based on Police Report:

  • Applicable when a police officer in charge of a station forwards a report under Section 173, alleging the commission of an offense by the accused.
  • Not applicable if the offense carries a punishment of death, life imprisonment, or imprisonment for more than seven years, as per the prevailing laws.

Cases Based on Magistrate’s Cognizance:

  • Also applies when a Magistrate takes cognizance of an offense based on a complaint.
  • Excludes offenses carrying punishments of death, life imprisonment, or imprisonment for more than seven years, according to existing laws.
  • The Magistrate must have examined the complainant and witnesses under Section 200 and issued the process under Section 204.

Exclusions

This chapter does not apply when the offense affects the –

  • Socio-economic condition of the country or
  • Committed against a woman or 
  • A child below the age of fourteen years.

Central Government’s Role

The Central Government holds the authority to determine, through an official notification, which offenses, as defined by the existing legal framework, fall under the category of crimes affecting the socio-economic condition of the country.

SECTION 265(B) – APPLICATION FOR PLEA BARGAINING

  • This section deals with who can file an application for Plea Bargaining.
  • The application should be filed before the trial begins, accompanied by an affidavit to ensure it’s a voluntary choice.
  • Previous convictions for the same offense in lower courts lead to the rejection of the application.

In-Camera Proceedings

  • Upon submission of the application, the court schedules a meeting date for the accused and the complainant.
  • In-camera proceedings, conducted in the magistrate’s or judge’s personal chamber, aim to verify the voluntariness of the application.

Handling Involuntary Applications

  • If the court determines that the application was filed involuntarily, it proceeds with the regular trial procedure.

Habitual Offenders

  • Habitual offenders have their applications rejected.

SECTION 265(C) – GUIDELINES FOR MUTUALLY SATISFACTORY DISPOSITION

  • This section provides guidelines for negotiations and agreements between the accused and the victim.
  • It includes a notice to relevant parties to ensure voluntary negotiations.

SECTION 265(D) – REPORT OF THE MUTUALLY SATISFACTORY DISPOSITION

  • If both the accused and the victim reach an agreement on negotiations or compensation, a report signed by the magistrate and all involved parties is submitted.
  • In cases where no agreement is reached, the court proceeds with the regular trial procedures.

SECTION 265(E) – DISPOSAL OF THE CASE

  • When parties agree on compensation or other terms, the court disposes of the case by providing the victim with the agreed-upon amount.
  • The punishment for the accused is determined considering various factors like good conduct and time served in prison.

Punishment Reduction

  • If the law specifies a minimum punishment, the court can reduce the sentence to half of that minimum. In cases without a minimum punishment, one-fourth of the punishment is given.

SECTIONS 265(F) TO 265(L)

  • These sections cover the pronouncement of judgment, appeal, court powers, period of detention offset, savings provisions, and the limited use of the accused’s statements.

TYPES OF PLEA BARGAINING

Plea bargaining comes in three types:

  • Sentence Bargaining: Negotiating the length of the sentence.
  • Charge Bargaining: Reducing or changing the charges.
  • Fact Bargaining: Agreeing on certain facts of the case.

CONCLUSION

The concept of Plea Bargaining in India is not entirely new, and it has been a subject of debate and evolution. While some critics argue that it violates Article 20(3) of the Indian Constitution, the legal system has recognized its necessity to address the overwhelming caseload in courts. The concept of Plea Bargaining continues to evolve, and constructive debate and discussion are essential for its improvement and effective implementation.

Reference:

1-https://timesofindia.indiatimes.com/readersblog/storyteller/plea-bargaining-36978/ -THE TIMES OF INDIA

2-https://www.thehindu.com/news/national/the-hindu-explains-what-is-plea-bargaining-and-how-does-it-work/article32126364.ece/amp/ -THE HINDU

3-https://timesofindia.indiatimes.com/city/kolkata/freedom-hope-for-undertrials/articleshow/2276412.cms -THE TIMES OF INDIA

4-https://www.hindustantimes.com/cities/lucknow-news/in-a-first-sessions-court-decides-case-via-plea-bargaining-in-uttar-pradesh-101656091464991-amp.html -HIDUSTAN TIME

 

Written By Archana Singh

I am Archana Singh, a recent law master's graduate with a strong aspiration for the judicial service. My passion lies in elucidating complex legal concepts, disseminating legal news, and enhancing legal awareness. I take immense pride in introducing my new legal website - The LawGist. Through my meticulously crafted blogs and articles, I aim to empower individuals with comprehensive legal insights. My unwavering dedication is to facilitate a profound comprehension of the law, enabling people to execute judicious and well-informed choices.

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