This article is written by Tulip Das, currently pursuing BBA L.L.B(H) from Amity University Kolkata.
“To have once been a criminal is no disgrace.
To remain a criminal is a disgrace.”
~ Malcom X
Crime and criminals are indeed looked upon in society with greatest hatred. Nevertheless, it is our society that prepares the crime and the criminal commits the same. Criminal laws have been established to curb crime and criminals. Criminal law is a broad field consisting of three major principal acts. They are: –
- The Indian Penal Code, 1860
- The Indian Evidence Act, 1872
- The Criminal Procedure Code, 1973.
The Indian Penal Code is a substantive law while the Indian Evidence Act and the Code of Criminal Procedure come under the ambit of procedural laws. Before we start our journey from investigation to trial, we must go through a few important definitions: –
- Cognizable Offence – Cognizable offence means an offence in which a police officer has the authority to make an arrest without a warrant and to start an investigation with or without the permission of a court. The police can file a First Information Report (FIR) for cognizable offences only. In Cognizable cases, police can make the investigation without the prior permission of the Magistrate. Cognizable cases are more serious than the non-cognizable cases. Normally, serious offences are defined as cognizable and usually carry a sentence of 3 years or more.
- Non-cognizable Offence – They are those categories of offences, which, as per Criminal Procedure Code (1973), the Police can neither register the FIR nor can investigate or effect arrest without the express permission or directions from the court of law are known as Non-cognizable offences. These include minor offences such as abusing one another, minor scuffles without injuries, intimidation, etc.
Once the type of offence has been acknowledged, the investigation process begins. The steps which take a case from investigation stage to trial are as follows: –
THE EVIDENCE PHASE – After the FIR has been filed by the police, the investigation begins. The investigation is done in order to gather evidence by: –
- Gathering of proofs or collection of evidence
- Statement of witnesses
- Interrogation or cross-examination
- Logical examination or scientific analysis
TYPES OF EVIDENCES
- Recording of Statements under sector 161 of CrPC. Where an offence is submitted under area 354, 376, or 509 of the I.P.C, the announcement of the charge must be enrolled by the Magistrate under sector 164 of the CrPC.
- Gathering of Evidence in the type of Documents and others.
- Recording of admissions or articulations under area 164 Cr.PC before the Magistrate.
During this examination, the Police make captures and are proceeds with the generation of the accused before the Magistrate. The charged must be presented before the justice within 24 hours of capture by the Police.
After the accused is produced before the Magistrate, the following further processes begin.
REMAND OR BAIL
Whenever an accused is arrested for any offense and the police are unable to complete the investigation within 24 hours then such accused is produced before a magistrate, requesting an extension of custody. The magistrate can grant police custody to the accused which shall not exceed more than 15 days in the entire considering of the application. However, if the magistrate does not seem to be convinced, then the accused is taken to magisterial custody. However, the magistrate under section 167 (2) (a) of the Criminal Procedure Code, may authorize the detention of the accused person. Otherwise, if he is satisfied that adequate grounds exist in doing so, he is kept in the custody of police for a period of beyond fifteen days. However, no magistrate shall authorize custody for more than: –
- Ninety days, where the examination of an offence is culpable with death, detainment for a long time or detainment for a term at the very least ten years.
- Sixty days, in case of examination of some other offence.
On the expiry of the 90 days or 60 days, the denounced can be allowed safeguard by applying for an award of safeguard, inside the arrangements of section 436, 436, and 439 of CrPC.
FINAL REPORT (Section 173)
The police, after finishing the examination need to document the final report under Section 173 of the Criminal Procedure Code. This marks the end of the examination and the proof gathered by the investigating team. If the evidence collected against the accused is insufficient then the police may file a report under Section 169 of the Criminal Procedure Code and release the accused on executing a bond and undertaking for appearing the Magistrate empowered to take cognizance. The last report will of 2 types.
- Conclusion Report.
- Charge sheet/Final report
A CLOSURE REPORT
A closure report or a conclusion report is filed when the police possess no evidence to prove that the alleged crime has been committed by an accused. After the closure report is filed the magistrate has the following four options: –
- Accept the report and close the case.
- Direct the police investigating team to investigate the matter further if he/ she thinks that there are still some loopholes in the investigation.
- Issue a notice as he is the only person who can challenge the concluding report.
- Might reject the closure report and take cognizance under Section 190 of the Criminal Procedure Code and Section 204 of the Criminal Procedure Code issue summons to the accused and direct his appearance to the magistrate.
CHARGE SHEET OR THE FINAL REPORT
A charge sheet incorporates the elements of the offense committed in a prescribed form, the complete investigation report of the Police authorities, and the charges slapped against the accused. It includes briefed facts, all statements recorded under section 161, 164 of the Criminal Procedure Code, a copy of the FIR, a list of witnesses, a list of seizures, and other documental evidence. According to Chapter 6 of the Criminal Procedure Code, on the filing of the charge sheet, the accused may be issued a summons by the magistrate to appear before him on a given date. On the filing of the charge sheet, the Magistrate takes cognizance of the matter under Section 190 of the Criminal Procedure Code. The court, if it deems fit, can reject the charge sheet and discharge the accused or can accept it and frame the charges and, post the case for trial.
BEGINNING OF THE TRIAL PROCESS
Here, the journey continues inside the courtroom. If the accused pleads guilty, he is convicted. If the accused pleads not guilty, the trial process begins.
- Opening of the Case: The case is opened in the court of law by the Prosecutor, who clarifies the court about the charges put on the accused in the charge sheet. However, the accused can anytime record an application under Section 227 of the Criminal Procedure Code 1973 for releasing him for the changes provided that the charges against him are false and are not solid or adequate to continue against him in the preliminary.
- Evidence Presented by the Prosecution: Witnesses from both sides are analyzed. The phases of proof include Examination of Chief, Cross-Examination, and Re-examination. To prove the guilt of the accused, the prosecution is required to produce evidence before the Court. The proof or evidence must be backed by the witnesses’ statement. This procedure is known as “examination in boss”. The magistrate has the power to issue summons to any individual as a witness or request him to produce a document before the Court. Sections of the Criminal Procedure Code 1973 applicable here are:
Section 233- Session trial
Section 242- Warrant trial
Section 254- Summons trial
- Statement of the Accused: After the evidence produced by the Prosecution, the statement of the accused is recorded under Section 313 for the CrPC. An oath is not considered during the recording of any statement. The accused at that point says his or her realities and conditions of the case. Anything recorded during this process can be utilized against that person at any later stage.
- Witness of the Defense: The defense, after the statement of the accused, produces oral and narrative evidence. This is under Section 233 for sessions trial, Section 243 for warrant trial, Section 254 (2) for the request of summons trial. In India, the defense is usually not required to give any proof as the burden of proof is on the Prosecution.
- The Final Arguments: The last arguments are presented by the Public Prosecutor and the defense counsel. As indicated in Section 314 of the Criminal Procedure Code, any party to any proceeding may, soon after the end of his evidence, address concise oral arguments, and may, before he finishes up the oral contentions, if any, submit a memorandum to the Court presenting succinctly and under distinct headings, the arguments in support of his case. Every such jotting will form a part of the record. A copy of every such jotting shall be provided to the contrary party.
- The Judgement: After hearing all the arguments, the judge decides whether to convict the accused or acquit him. This is known as judgment. This also Incorporates session trial contained in Section 235, warrant trial in Section 248, and summon trial under Section 255 of the CrPC. If the accused is convicted, then both sides present their arguments on the punishment. This is usually done if the punishment is life imprisonment or capital punishment.
After hearing the arguments from both sides, the court finally decides what should be the punishment for the accused. Various theories of punishment are considered such as the reformative theory of punishment and the deterrent theory of punishment. The age, background, and history of the accused also kept in mind while giving the judgment.
I would like to conclude by saying that crime never pays. The journey from investigation to trial is not a bed of roses. Many individuals including the Police officials, the lawyers, and the judges have a vital role to play at every stage. From investigation to the gathering of evidence to the trial, all play their roles appropriately, bravely as well as being fair and honest. When law and order start working hand-in-hand, crime and criminals very soon be wiped out of the society. We must always keep in mind that punishment is the last and the least effective instrument given to curb crime and criminals. We must make efforts to reduce crime rates and make the world a better place.
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