By Y.Srinivasa Rao, Principal Assistant Sessions Judge, Tirupati.
Plea Bargaining:— Chapter XXI-A of the Code of Criminal Procedure,1973 (Cr.P.C) deals with Plea Bargaining. In fact, this concept of Plea Bargaining is very famous in U,S.A. The Law Commission of India, in its 142nd 154th, and 177th Reports, suggested the concept of Plea Bargaining to reduce pendency of criminal cases in India. For some inexplicable reasons scored out, this concept is not successful in India when compared to U.S.A. See also. Recommendations of Dr. Justice Malimath Committee; and Brady v. United States and Santobello v. New York to know the historical analysis of this concept.
- Chapter XX1- A Cr P C explains the concept of Plea Bargaining. There are twelve sections in this Chapter.
- The concept of Plea Bargaining is introduced in 2006. It is in force since 05-07-2006.
- This Chapter contains sections 265A to 265 L
- IthasapplicationwhereoffenceattractsimprisonmentNOTexceeding 7 years
- It is NOT applicable where the offence affects Socio-economic Conditions of the Country
- Plea bargaining will not be allowed where the offence has been committed against a Woman, or a Child below where the offence
- Accused will be examined in camera by the court to know whether he is voluntarily made the application or not
- Accusedmustsubmitanaffidavitsubmittingthathevoluntarilymade the application without any threat or coercion
- Accused may withdraw his plea bargaining application at any statge
- If plea bargaining is approved by the court, accused may sentenced upto 1⁄4 of imprisonment if the offence is not punishable with minimum punishment. If offence is punishable with minimum punishment, accused will be sentenced to half of the minimum punishment.
- Accused may be released on probation of good conduct applying Probation of Offenders Act.
- There is no appeal for judgment given under this method. But, it can be challenged by way of Writ
- The court will record Mutually satisfactory Disposition by hearing accused, Victim, and APP/PP
- Accused may take assistance of his lawyer under this method
- It applies to police cases and Private complaints.
- This Chapter does not apply to Juveniles in conflict with law or Children under the Juvenile Justice Act,2000.
- If it is police case, plea bargaining application must be made after charge sheet is filed. In private complaints, this application is to be made, after taking cognizance of the offence.
- Provisions of this Chapter (XXI-A of Cr.P.C) shall remain, notwithstanding anything contained in Cr.P.C.
- The statements of facts stated by the accused not to be used for any other purpose except for the plea bargaining.
Conclusion:- If this concept of Plea Bargaining is successfully used, it is very useful to reduce the arrears of criminal cases and also number of under-trial prisoners who are languishing in jail can be decreased, a fortiori, victims can get compensation and thereby it is also useful to reduce delays in the disposal of criminal cases. Of course, this concept is also criticised by the Hon’ble Supreme Court in State of U.P. v. Chandrika , AIR 2000 SC 164, wherein it was held that plea bargaining is not recognized and is against-public policy under the Criminal Justice System of India. Even while introducing doctrine of pleabargaining in CrPC , certain types of offences have been kept out of its purview. as was observed in State of Punjab v. Prem Sagar, (2008) 7 SCC 550.