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Concept of Plea Bargaining under Criminal Procedure Code

The famous saying Justice delayed is justice denied holds utmost importance while the concept of Plea bargaining. Plea bargaining is a pre-trial negotiation between the accused and the prosecution where the accused agrees to plead guilty in exchange for certain concessions by the prosecution. It is a bargain wherein a defendant pleads responsible to a lesser fee and the prosecutors in go backdrop more serious charges. It is not available for all types of crime e.g.; Someone can not declare plea bargaining after committing heinous crimes or for the crimes that are punishable with demise or life imprisonment.

Meaning Of Plea Bargaining

Section 265A to 265L, Chapter XXIA of the Criminal Procedure Code deals with the idea of Plea Bargaining. It was inserted into the Criminal Law (Amendment) Act, 2005. It allows plea bargaining for 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.[1]
judges used this bargaining to encourage confessions. Plea Bargaining isn't an indigenous concept of Indian criminal law. It is a part of the recent development of the Indian Criminal Justice System (ICJS). It became inculcated in Indian Criminal Justice System after thinking about the weight of long-status cases on the Judiciary.

The Law Commission turned into first to recommend the plea bargaining in the Indian Criminal Justice System. It defined Plea Bargaining as an opportunity method that has to be added to deal with huge criminal instances in Indian courts.

History Of Plea Bargaining

Plea bargains were rare in early history. Judges appeared surprised when defendants offered to plead guilty, and they attempted to persuade them instead to go to trial. As in early times, however, plea bargains were becoming common, when public ordinance violators could expect less-severe sentences if they pleaded guilty.

By 1850, the exercise had spread to prison courts, and it has become habitual for defendants to plead guilty in alternate for the dismissal of a few expenses or different agreements arranged with the prosecutor. Possibly the first systematic use of plea negotiation, the bargains were typically for victimless offenses, so the prosecutor did not have to consider victims' concerns.

In the 1960s plea bargains were still treated as unethical at best and illegal at worst. Defendants who had popular plea bargains have been instructed no longer to well known the negotiations in the courtroom, because doing so could solid doubt on whether their pleas had been voluntary.

In 1967, however, an influential report by the President's Commission on Law Enforcement and Administration of Justice documented the widespread use of plea bargaining and recommended recognizing the practice.

Criminal Code And Plea Bargaining

The silent features of a plea bargaining are as follows:
  1. It is applicable in respect of those offenses for which punishment is up to 7 years.
  2. It does not apply to cases where the offense is committed against a woman or a child below the age of 14 years
  3. When the court passes an order in the case of plea bargaining no appeal shall lie to any court against that order.
  4. It reduces the charge.
  5. It drops multiple counts and press only one charge.
  6. It makes a recommendation to the courts about punishment or sentence the criminal code of plea bargaining explains that:

    By introducing the concept of Plea Bargaining in the Criminal Procedure the object of the legislature is:
    1. To reduce the pending litigation
    2. To decrees the number of under-trial prisoners.
    3. To make provision of compensation to the victim of crimes by the accused.
    4. To cut delay in the disposal of criminal cases.
       

The Criminal Law (Amendment) Act, 2005 essentially key issues in the criminal justice system are:

  • Witness Turning Hostile
  • Plea Bargaining
  • Compounding the offense under Section 498A, IPC

The legal provisions introduced by the Criminal Law (Amendment) Act, 2005 are as follows:

Section 265 A:

According to this Section, plea bargaining should apply to an accused who has not committed an offense for which the law provides the punishment of death or life imprisonment or imprisonment for more than seven years.[2]

It also provides that Chapter XXIA of the Code of Criminal Procedure,1973 will not apply to offenses that affect the socio-economic condition of the country or have been committed against a woman or a child below fourteen years of age.

The accused has access to three kinds of a plea bargain. The accused can make an application for charge bargain, wherein the prosecution allows the accused to plead guilty to a lesser charge or only to some charges imposed against him.

Secondly, a sentence bargain can be applied for wherein the accused is told in advance the sentence he will be given if he pleads guilty. Lastly, there is fact bargaining under which the defendant agrees to stipulate to certain facts to make sure that other facts are not brought into the picture to be taken as a piece of evidence, it is not used in courts as it is believed to go against the Criminal Justice System. In India, the accused can only make an application for a sentence bargain.

Types Of Plea Bargaining

there are three main types of Plea Bargaining i.e,
  1. Charge Bargain
  2. count Bargain
  3. Fact Bargain
  4. Sentence bargain[3]


Explanation as given below:

Charge Bargaining

The defendant pleads to a criminal offense that's much less critical than the original price, or the maximum serious of the charges.

Example:
The prosecution charges chandler with burglary, but he pleads guilty to trespassing and the prosecution dismisses the burglary charge.

Count Bargaining

Many bear in mind court bargaining to fall below fee bargaining. Here, the defendant pleads to only one or more of the original charges, and the prosecution drops the rest.

Sentence Bargaining

Example:
The prosecution expenses Ross with both robbery and simple attack. The parties agree that Ross will plead to the attack charge and that the prosecution will dismiss the theft charge.

The defendant takes a guilty or "no contest" plea after the perimeters accept as true with what sentence the prosecution will endorse.

Example:
Sammy agrees to plead to the charge of resisting arrest, and the prosecution agrees to recommend that the judge not sentence him to jail time.

Fact Bargaining

The defendant pleads in exchange for the prosecutor's stipulation that certain facts led to the conviction. The omitted facts would have increased the sentence because of sentencing guidelines.

Example:
The government files an indictment against drug trafficking. Federal agents stuck him with over five kilograms of cocaine. Five kilograms triggers a sentence involving many years in prison, so, it agrees to plead guilty to the offense in exchange for the prosecution's stipulation that he possessed less than five kilograms.

Relevant Case Laws:
  1. State of Uttar Pradesh vs Chandrika

    The Court deprecated the concept of plea bargaining and held the concept as unconstitutional. The Court believed that the concept of plea bargaining cannot form the basis for the disposal of criminal cases. Such cases should be only decided on merit. It also opined that a sentence given to the accused should be as per what the specific statute or law says.
    In India, the Supreme Court of India has criticized the concept of plea bargaining through its various judgments.
     
  2. Kachhia Patel Shantilal Koderlal v. State of Gujarat and Anr

    The Supreme Court held that the practice of plea bargaining is unconstitutional, illegal, and could encourage corruption and collusion.
     
  3. Thippaswamy v. the State of Karnataka

    The Court said that the act of inducing and leading the accused to plead guilty under an assurance or a promise will violate Article 21 of the Constitution of India[4]

Conclusion
To conclude, Plea Bargaining is undoubted, a disputed concept few people have welcomed it while others have abandoned it. Plea Bargaining indeed speeds up caseload disposition, but it unconstitutionally does that.

But possibly we haven't any other choice however to adopt this approach. The criminal court is too overburdened to allow each case to go on trial. I assume, [5]only time will tell if the introduction of this concept is justified or not.

At the same time, the concept of plea bargaining in India is a voluntary process, but the legal provisions do not provide anything if the mutual disposition reached by the parties in plea bargaining is contrary to the provisions of law. It is also imperative to note that the investigating officer is an important party in the process of reaching a mutual settlement. The involvement of the police often attracts criticism as custodial torture inflicted on the accused by the police is a penetrating issue in India.

In light of the various pronouncements given by the Courts in India, it can be said that the concept of Plea Bargaining in India has two sides of interpretations and perceptions. However, the criminal justice system has reformed over time and has made plea bargaining conducive to the legal and social standards.

With the tremendous number of criminal cases stacking up the courts, the concept of Plea Bargaining is imperative as it provides for the fast and expeditious means of disposing of cases.

End-Notes:
  1. The code of Criminal procedure act, 1973
  2. The code of Criminal procedure act, 1973
  3. https://www.nolo.com/legal-encyclopedia/what-the-different-kinds-plea-bargains.html
  4. Law pack
Written By: Simran Gill

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