This article is written by Mudit Jain, currently pursuing B.B.A.LL.B.(H) from the Indore Institute of Law.
A Public Prosecutor is seen as the state’s agent in the criminal justice system, representing the interests of ordinary citizens. The prosecution of the accused is the state’s responsibility, not the offended party’s. They are appointed in nearly every country. Section 24 of the Cr.P.C. defines the Public Prosecutor. They serve as the foundational basis of the Rule of Law i.e. alteram partem.
Duties of a Public Prosecutor under the Criminal Justice System in India
The duty of a Public Prosecutor is divided into two parts first in investigating process and secondly during trials.
In Investigating Process-
- They are responsible to make an appearance in Court and obtain an arrest warrant.
- They do have to collect those arrest warrants for searching specified premises.
- They have to obtain police custody remand for interrogation (including custodial interrogation) of the accused.
- They have to initiate a proceeding for the declaration of the non-traceable offender as the proclaimed offender.
- They have to record the evidence of the accused in the police report regarding the advisability of the prosecutions.
To perform the activity of sentencing- When the accused is found guilty, the defence counsel and the Public Prosecutor dispute the severity of the penalty. At this point, the Public Prosecutor may argue for an appropriate sentence based on the facts, circumstances of the case, and seriousness of the offence. It aids the judge in making an informed judgement.
Speedy Trial – The right to a timely trial is a basic right enshrined in Article 21 of the Indian Constitution, which declares, “Right to Life and Personal Liberty.” The prosecution must summon all witnesses whose testimony is required to resolve the case. To cross-examine the witness and ensure that no testimony goes unquestioned. To create all essential documentation.
Other Important Duties-
- The Public Prosecutor may not exacerbate the circumstances of the case or refuse to interview a witness whose testimony might undermine the case. The primary goal must be to uncover the truth.
- He should not stand up for the accused. It is unethical in the administration of justice or the legal profession.
- He represents the government, not the police. He is a State Officer appointed by the State Government. He is not a member of any investigation agency, but rather an independent authority. He is entrusted with statutory responsibilities.
- The Superintendent of Police or the District Magistrate cannot order the Public Prosecutor to drop the case.
- If a defence counsel raises an unsuccessful issue, the Public Prosecutor should bring it to the attention of the court.
- At last, the most important they have to ensure that justice is done.
Provision of Public Prosecutor Under Cr. P.C-
Hierarchy of Public Prosecutor according to Section 24:
The Public Prosecutor appointed by Central Government.
The Public Prosecutor appointed by State Government.
Additional Public Prosecutor appointed by State Government.
Special Public Prosecutor appointed by Central Government.
Special Public Prosecutor appointed by State Government.
Section 24 of Cr.P.C talks about the appointment of Public Prosecutors in the District Court and High Court by the state government and central government respectively.
Sub-section 3 tells that the Public Prosecutor needs to be appointed for each district and may also appoint an Additional Public Prosecutor.
Sub-section 4 tells that the District Magistrate in consultation with the Session judge needs to prepare a panel of names that is considered as fit for such an appointment.
Sub-section 5 tells that the person can’t be appointed as a Public Prosecutor or Additional Public Prosecutor by the State Government in a district unless his names are on the panel prepared under subsection 4.
Sub-section 6 explains that in a case where a state has a local cadre of prosecuting officers, but there is no suitable person in such cadre for an appointment the appointment must be made from the panel prepared under subsection 4.
Sub-section 7 states that a person can be appointed as Public Prosecutor only after he has been practised as an advocate for a minimum period of 7 years.
Section 25 of Cr.P.C states that the Assistant Public Prosecutors is appointed in the district to conduct prosecution in Magistrate Court. The court may appoint one or more Assistant Public Prosecutors for conducting a case. If there is no Assistant Public Prosecutors then District Magistrate may appoint any other person to act as the Assistant Public Prosecutors.
Section 321 permits the Public Prosecutor or Assistant Public Prosecutor to withdraw from the case or prosecution with the permission of the court at any time before the judgement is pronounced. The power of the prosecutor is derived from the statute itself and they must act in the interest of the administration of justice.
Important Case laws
In the case of Tikam Singh vs. State & Ors.
The office of the Public Prosecutor is not in question, yet there is a public component to it. He serves as a state representative, not as a complaint. The role of the Public Prosecutor differs from that of private counsel.
In the case of Sandeep Kumar Bafna vs State of Maharashtra & Anr,
The court stated that “a Public Prosecutor is not expected to show a thirst to reach the case in the conviction of the accused somehow or other irrespective of the facts of the case. The attitude of the Public Prosecutor must be fair towards the investigating agencies and as well as towards the accused.”
In the case of Kunja Subidhi and Anr vs Emperor,
The Public Prosecutor’s responsibility is to present to the court all relevant evidence, whether in favour or against the accused and to leave the decision to the court.
In the case of Radheyshyam vs State of M.P & Ors,
The court stated that a special Public Prosecutor can be appointed when the administration of justice is required. They cannot appoint only on the request of the complainant. His remuneration is paid by the state because if it will be paid by the private party, then his ability or capacity to perform his role as a Public Prosecutor will be endangered. The government cannot appoint Special Public Prosecutor on such terms, directing him to receive his remuneration from any private individual.
In the case of Thakur Ram vs State of Bihar,
The reason behind the establishment of the office of Public Prosecutor is that no private person can use the legal apparatus to wreak private vengeance on anyone.
Present Scenario of Public Prosecutors in India
In India, there is no consistency in the framework of public prosecution. In a few states, no distinction is made between the investigative agency and the prosecution. Because the police control the prosecutions, this impacts the Public Prosecutor’s impartiality. The border is entirely breached when the prosecution is led by a senior police official. Although the Law Commission in the year 1958 suggested the establishment of the Directorate of prosecution with its own cadre, such a recommendation was not accepted in Cr.P.C. Some states have the Directorate of Prosecution while others do not.
There could be many ways to improve the situation of public prosecutors in India, such as establishing a National Institute to provide proper training to candidates, lowering the age limit, and making it mandatory for each state to establish its own Directorate of Prosecutions even we should encourage more lawyers to become Public Prosecutor.
A Public Prosecutor is a court officer who assists in the administration of justice. The main duty of the Public Prosecutor is to assist the court in determining the facts of the case. The Public Prosecutor must be objective, fair, and truthful. He must follow the judge’s instructions. He should not believe in the conviction of the accused by any means. Any public prosecution must be guided by the principles of equity, fairness, and moral conscience.
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