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Criminal Trial in Indian Law


(Note: This is an ar cle wri en for layman having no knowledge of law. If you are a
lawyer or a legal expert, please feel free to point out if there is any mistake in the
ar cle. If you want to give your inputs to make this be er, please leave a comment
at the bo om.)
Many a mes we come across the term called criminal trial. In general parlance,
we understand trial means that a person is facing a case in court of law. But
generally people are not aware of the process of criminal trial in India. So here is
the procedure for criminal trial that generally takes place in India.
Types of Criminal Trials
Before we proceed further, we must note that according to Criminal Procedure
Code, criminal trial can be of tree types namely Trial in Warrant cases, Trial in
Summon Cases and Summery Trial
Trial in Warrant Cases
Warrant cases are those cases in which an oence a racts a penalty of
imprisonment for more than seven years and it includes oences punishable with
death and life imprisonment. In such cases, the trial starts either by ling of FIR or
by ling a complaint before a magistrate. And if the magistrate nds that the case
relates to an oence carrying a punishment for more than two years, the case is
sent to the sessions court for trial.
Sec on 193 of the Criminal Procedure Code clearly states that the session court
can not take cognizance of any oence unless the case has been sent to it by a
magistrate. The process of sending it to sessions court is generally called
commi ng it to sessions court.
Trial in Summon Cases
A summon case is a case which is not a warrant case. So in simple words, those
cases in which an oence is punishable with an imprisonment of less than two
years is a summon case. In this case, one must understand that if a magistrate,
a er looking into the case, thinks that a case is not a summon case, he may
convert it into a warrant case. In respect of summons cases, there is no need to
frame a charge. The court gives substance of the accusa on, which is called
no ce, to the accused when the person appears in pursuance to the summons.
Summary Trial
Case of oenses punishable with an imprisonment of not more than six months
can be tried in a summary way. It is also to be noted that if the case has been
tried in a summary way, a person can not be awarded a punishment of
imprisonment for more than three months.
Pretrial stages
Registra on of FIR
FIR stands for rst informa on report which is lodged under sec on 154 of the
Criminal Procedure Code. The FIR is only the basis informa on which is made
available to the police when a cognizable oence takes place. FIR is the rst stage
from which a criminal case takes the birth.
Inves ga on

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inves ga ng ocer to reach to a conclusion whether a chargesheet has to be led
or a closure report has to be led in the case. If the inves ga on result in
discovery of an oence, a chargesheet is led, otherwise a closure report is led
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If the inves ga ng ocer nds out that a case is t for trial then he les a
chargesheet in the case.
Filing of the charge sheet

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The charge sheet is the brief summary of how an oence had been commi ed?
What was the role of each person who was involved in the crime and the sec ons
under which the inves ga ng ocer had charged all the accused. The charge
sheet also contains the names of the person who were inves gated but could not
be charged due to lack of evidence in the eyes of the inves ga ng agency. Filing of
the charge sheet generally means that the inves ga on in the case is over and
now the court has to consider the evidence collected by the inves ga ng agency.
It is to be noted, that if during the course of trial, some new facts come to the
light, the agency may le addi onal charge sheets.
Framing of charges/Serving the No ce
if its a summon case, a simple no ce is given and a response is sought from the
accused. But in warrant cases, the court frames the charges.
Framing of charges mean that the court looks into the evidence collected by the
inves ga ng agency and applies its mind so as to what are the charges under
which an accused has to be booked. For example, the police has led a
chargesheet accusing a person of murder under sec on 302, but the court deems
it proper to charge the person for culpable homicide not amoun ng to murder
under sec on 304. At this stage, if an accused pleads guilty then the court will
apply its judicial mind and decide the punishment accordingly. And if the accused
pleads not guilty, he is informed the charges under which he would be required to
face the trial.
On the other hand, if the judge nds that no oence against an accused is made
out, the accused is discharged from the case. The court has to apply its mind and
record the reasons for discharging an accused.
Recording of the Prosecu on Evidence
A er the charges have been framed against an accused, the prosecu on is
required to produce before the court, all the evidence collected by the
inves ga ng agency. It is to be noted that when the inves ga ng agency produces
the evidence before the court, the evidence has to be supplemented with the
statement of the prosecu on witnesses (PWs). The process of recording the
statement of PWs is called Examina on-in-Chief. The evidence which is brought
before the court and which the court considers is called Exhibit . The witnesses
brought by the prosecu on are expected to support the case presented by the
prosecu on and if they fail to do so, they are declared hos le and the
prosecu on may request the court not to rely on the statement of such a witness.
In case the witness supports the case of the prosecu on, the defense is en tled
to cross examine the witness so that they could nd out the discrepancies in the
statement of the witness concerned. If the defense succeeds in nding the
discrepancies in the statement of the witnesses, they may ask the court not to
rely on the statement of the said witness.
Statement of the accused
Sec on 313 of the Criminal Procedure code empowers the court to ask for an
explana on from the accused if any. The basic idea is to give an opportunity of
being heard to an accused an explain the facts and circumstances appearing in
the evidence against him. Under this sec on, an accused shall not be
administered an oath and the accused may refuse to answer the ques ons so
asked. The answers given by the accused may be taken into considera on in such
inquiry or trial, and put in evidence for or against him.
Evidence of Defense
A er the statement of the accused is over, the court applies its mind and tries to
nd out if the accused has commi ed any oence or not. If the court reaches the
conclusion that no oence has been commi ed by the accused, he is acqui ed. It
must be noted that while acqui ng an accused, the judge is expected to give
reasons for acqui ng the accused.
In cases of accused not being acqui ed by the court, the defense is given an
opportunity to present any defense evidence in support of the accused. The
defense can also produce its witnesses and the said witnesses are cross examined
by the prosecu on. In India, generally the defense does not provide defense
evidence as the criminal jus ce system in India puts burden of proof on the
prosecu on to prove that a person is guilty of an oence beyond the reasonable
doubt.
Final Arguments of both the sides
Once the defense evidence of the accused is over, the prosecu on presents its
nal arguments. In nal arguments, the prosecu on generally sum up its case
against the accused. A er the nal arguments of the prosecu on are over, the
defense also present its nal arguments. A er the nal arguments of both the
sides are over, the court generally reserve its judgment.

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Delivery of Judgment
A er applica on of mind, the judge delivers a nal judgment holding an accused
guilty of oence or acqui ng him of the par cular oence. If a person is
acqui ed, the prosecu on is given me to le an appeal and if a person is
convicted of a par cular oence, then date is xed for arguments on sentence.
Arguments on sentence

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Once a person is convicted of an oence, both the sides present their arguments

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on what punishment should be awarded to an accused. This is generally done in


cases which are punished with death or life imprisonment.
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A er the arguments on sentence, the court nally decides what should be the
punishment for the accused. While punishing a person, the courts consider
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deterrent theory of punishment. Court also considers the age, background and
history of an accused and the judgment is pronounced accordingly.

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Excellent description of the entire process. Kudos to your entire team. We all
eagerly look fwd to future blogs. Thanks.

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Criminal Trial in Indian Law


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anupdetroit 17 November 2011 at 08:29

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hearing in Supreme ...

you have made a wrong details there are 4 types of trial i.e. session trial
(Ss.225-237) Warrant trial(Ss.238-250) and similarly summon cases trial and summary
trial

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correct it

Arguments of Ram Jethmalani


in Supreme Court on 14...

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Abdul Gani 7 February 2013 at 19:27

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you have forgotten an important aspect of the trial i.e. re-examination of the
witnesses after cross examination. Further you have not clarified as to whether
cross examination is carried out in summary and summons trials, and whether
questions and answers are to be recorded in exaination, cross examination and
re-examination,which formthe main crux of the trials

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Navin 11 February 2013 at 01:48

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Wanted to know about the procedure after filing of charge-sheet and before
framing of charges in the court.
There is a time gap of few years between this two.
What transpires during this waiting period. And also about exemption from
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sawebzone 29 September 2013 at 06:31

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sawebzone 29 September 2013 at 06:59


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Abhishek Gupta 25 December 2013 at 09:48


You have forgotten one thing that the case which is punishable with imprisonment
of upto 7 years, the magistrate does not commit it to session court. because
magistrate of 1st class has power to try the offence punishable with 7 years.
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javid 7 February 2014 at 04:09

Supreme Court of India

kindly post the difference between summary and regular trial under criminal
procedure code

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Suraj Sur 15 March 2014 at 21:28


I want to know much time does a trial takes to complete in India in a magistrate
court. Its a signature fraud case when the person was out of country.
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A Kumar 4 July 2014 at 02:05


Kislay Pandey is one of the best corporate lawyer, Criminal Lawyer in India who
practices in the supreme court and various high courts.

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