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The Journey of a Criminal Case From Investigation to Trial

It is true that crime and criminal are looked upon the society with the greatest hatred by all sections of the people of the society. The punishment for a crime is decided by the procedures established by criminal law. Criminal law consists of 3 main acts that are 1) the Indian Penal Code 2) Indian Evidence Act, 1872 and 3) Code of Criminal Procedure 1973. The Indian Penal Code is a substantive law whereas the Indian Evidence Act and the Code of Criminal Procedure are procedural laws. Before we start off with the process it is important we get over with some basic definitions. [1]

Cognizable offence

Cognizable offenses are of much serious nature. In a Cognizable offense, the police officer can arrest a person without a warrant. A cognizable offense is defined under section 2 (c) of the CrPC. The moment it is intimated to the police that any offense which is cognizable in nature has been committed in its local jurisdiction, the police are bound to register an FIR under section 154 of the CrPC. [2]A cognizable offense is an offense which is punishable with imprisonment for 3 years or more. [3]A complaint can also be given to a Magistrate and the Magistrate orders the officer in- charge and forwards the complaint. The officer then registers the FIR. In a cognizable offense, the police can start the investigation immediately after filing the FIR. No permission from the Magistrate is required. [4]

Non Cognizable offence

Non Cognizable offenses have been defined under section 2 (I), of Cr.PC. as an offense. In these types of offenses, the police can arrest the person without a warrant. There are punishable with imprisonment for less than 3 years or with fine only. [5]In a non-cognizable offense, before starting the investigation the permission of the magistrate is required. [6]

Stages of Evidence

After the FIR has been registered by the police authorities, the investigation takes place. The investigation is done by the police for:
1. For the collection of evidence.
2. Statement of witnesses.
3. Interrogation/ statement of the accused.
4. Scientific analysis.[7]

Types of Evidence:

1. Recording of Statements under section 161 of CrPC. Where an offense is committed under section 354, 376, or 509 of the I.P.C, the statement of the accused has to be registered by the Magistrate under section 164 of the CrPC.
2. Collecting of Evidence in form of Documents and others.
3. Recording of confessions or statements under section 164 Cr.P.C before the Magistrate.
During the investigation the police make arrests. [8]

Production of Accused Before The Magistrate

The accused shall be produced before the magistrate within 24 hours of arrest.[9]

Remand/Bail
Whenever an accused is arrested for any offense and police cannot complete the investigation within 24 hours then such such person is produced before a magistrate for seeking an extension of custody. The magistrate can grant police custody to the accused which shall not be more than 15 days in the whole considering the application. However, if the magistrate does not seem convinced then the accused is taken to magisterial custody. However, the magistrate under section 167 (2) (a) may authorize the detention of the accused person, otherwise in custody of police beyond the period of fifteen days; if he is satisfied that adequate grounds exist in doing so. However, no magistrate shall authorize custody for more than-[10]

1. Ninety days, where the investigation is of an offense punishable with death, imprisonment for 10 years or imprisonment for a term not less than ten years. [11]
2. Sixty days, where the investigation is of any other offense.[12]
On the expiry of the 90 days or 60 days, the accused can be granted bail by applying for a grant of bail, within the provisions of section 436, 436 and 439 of Cr.P.C.[13]

Section 173 (Final Report) [14]
The police after completing the investigation have to file a final report under section 173 of the CrPC. This is the conclusion of the investigation and the evidence collected by the Investigation Agency. If the evidence collected against the accused is deficient then the police may file a report under section 169 of the Cr.P.C and release the accused on executing a bond and undertaking for appearing the Magistrate empowered to take cognizance. The final report will of 2 types.
1. Closure Report.
2. Charge sheet/ Final report

Closure Report[15]
A closure report is filed when the police have no evidence to prove that the alleged offense has been committed by an accused. After the closure report is filed the magistrate has 4 options.
1. Accept the report and close the case.
2. Direct the investigating agency to investigate the matter further, if he/ she thinks there is still some gap in the investigation.
3. Issue notice as he is the only person who can challenge the closure report.
4. May reject the closure report and take cognizance under section 190 of Cr.PC and under section 204 of Cr P.C issue summons to the accused and direct his appearance to the magistrate.

Charge Sheet [16]
A charge sheet includes the elements of the offense in a prescribed form, and it also contains the complete investigation of the Police authorities and the charges slapped against the accused. It includes facts, in brief, all statements recorded under section 161, 164, a copy of the FIR, list of witnesses, list of seizure and other documental evidence. According to Chap 6 of the CrP.C, on the filing of the charge sheet, the accused may be issued 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 Cr.P.C. The court can reject the charge sheet and discharge the accused or can accept it and frame the charges and, post the case for trial.

Plea of Guilty Or Not Guilty By Accused [17]
If the accused pleads guilty, the court shall record the plea and may convict him. If the accused pleads not guilty then the case is posted for trial.

Opening of The Case 18]
The case is opened by the Prosecutor, who will have to explain the court about the charges put on the accused in the charge sheet. The accused at any time can file an application under section 227 for discharging him for the charges levied on the ground that the charges against him are false and are not strong or sufficient enough to proceed against him in the trial.

Stages of Evidence of Prosecution [19]
Witnesses from both sides are examined. The stages of evidence include Examination of Chief, Cross Examination and Re-examination. To produce the guilt of the accused, the prosecution is required to produce evidence. The evidence needs to be supported with statements from witnesses. This process is called "examination in chief". The magistrate has the power to issue summons to any person as a witness or orders him to produce any document. (Session trial- section 233, warrant trial- section 242 and summons trial-section 254).

Statements of The Accused [20]
After the evidence of the prosecution, the statement of the accused is recorded under section 313 of Cr.P.C. An oath is not administered during the recording of the statement. The accused then says his/her facts and circumstances of the case. Anything recorded during the statement can be used against him or her at any later stage.

Witness of Defense [21]
The defense after the statement of accused produces oral and documentary evidence. This is under section 233 for sessions trial, sections 243 for warrant trial, section 254 (2) for summons trial). In India the defense is generally not required to give any defense evidence as the burden of proof is on the prosecution.

Final Arguments [22]
Final arguments are presented by the Public Prosecutor and the defense counsel. According to section 314 of Cr.P.C, any party to a proceeding may, as soon as may be, after the close of his evidence, address concise oral arguments, and may, before he concludes the oral arguments, if any, submit a memorandum to the Court setting forth concisely and under distinct headings, the arguments in support of his case and every such memorandum shall form part of the record.
A copy of every such memorandum shall be simultaneously furnished to the opposite party.

Judgment [23]
After hearing all the arguments, the judge decides whether to convict the accused or acquit him. This is known as judgment. (Session trial- Section 235, warrant trial- section 248 and summon trial- section 255). If the accused is convicted, then both sides give their arguments on the punishment. This usually done if the punishment is life imprisonment or capital punishment.

After hearing the arguments on the sentence, the court finally decides what should be the punishment for the accused. Various theories of punishment are considered like the reformative theory of punishment and deterrent theory of punishment. Age, background, and history of the accused are also considered while giving the judgment.

End-Notes
[1] Rebecca Furtado, All About The Various Stages of Criminal Trial in India, I Pleaders (2017), https://blog.ipleaders.in/all-about-the-various-stages-of-criminal-trial-in-india/ (last visited on December 19, 2018).
[2] Pushkraj Deshpande, India: Criminal Investigation For Trial, Mondaq (2018), http://www.mondaq.com/india/x/691420/Crime/Criminal+Investigation+For+Trial (last visited on December 18, 2018).
[3] Vijay Pal Dalmia, India: Process of Trial of Criminal Cases In India, Mondaq (2018), http://www.mondaq.com/india/x/318472/Crime/Process+of+Trial+of+Criminal+Cases+In+India (last visited on December 19, 2018).
[4] Various Stages of Criminal Proceedings in India under Criminal Procedure, 1973, Multiple Khoj (2018), http://multiplekhoj.blogspot.com/2018/06/various-stages-of-criminal-proceedings-in-India-under-criminal-procedure-code-1973.html (last visited on December 19, 2018
[5] Vijay Pal Dalmia, India: Process of Trial of Criminal Cases In India, Mondaq (2018), http://www.mondaq.com/india/x/318472/Crime/Process+of+Trial+of+Criminal+Cases+In+India (last visited on December 19, 2018).
[6] Various Stages of Criminal Proceedings in India under Criminal Procedure, 1973, Multiple Khoj (2018), http://multiplekhoj.blogspot.com/2018/06/various-stages-of-criminal-proceedings-in-India-under-criminal-procedure-code-1973.html (last visited on December 19, 2018
[7] Ibid.
[8] Pushkraj Deshpande, India: Criminal Investigation For Trial, Mondaq (2018), http://www.mondaq.com/india/x/691420/Crime/Criminal+Investigation+For+Trial (last visited on December 18, 2018).
[9]Vijay Pal Dalmia, India: Process of Trial of Criminal Cases In India, Mondaq (2018), http://www.mondaq.com/india/x/318472/Crime/Process+of+Trial+of+Criminal+Cases+In+India (last visited on December 19, 2018).
[10] Various Stages of Criminal Proceedings in India under Criminal Procedure, 1973, Multiple Khoj (2018), http://multiplekhoj.blogspot.com/2018/06/various-stages-of-criminal-proceedings-in-India-under-criminal-procedure-code-1973.html (last visited on December 19, 2018
[11] Ibid.
[12] Ibid.
[13] Ibid.
[14] Pushkraj Deshpande, India: Criminal Investigation For Trial, Mondaq (2018), http://www.mondaq.com/india/x/691420/Crime/Criminal+Investigation+For+Trial (last visited on December 18, 2018).
[15] Ibid.
[16] Pushkraj Deshpande, India: Criminal Investigation For Trial, Mondaq (2018), http://www.mondaq.com/india/x/691420/Crime/Criminal+Investigation+For+Trial (last visited on December 18, 2018).
[17] Ibid.
[18] Ibid.
[19] Various Stages of Criminal Proceedings in India under Criminal Procedure, 1973, Multiple Khoj (2018), http://multiplekhoj.blogspot.com/2018/06/various-stages-of-criminal-proceedings-in-India-under-criminal-procedure-code-1973.html (last visited on December 19, 2018).
[20] Ibid.
[21] Ibid.
[22] Ibid.
[23] Ibid.

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