Criminal Law

Trial by Session Courts

By Adv. Apurva Chodanker & Chanchal Kumawat

Introduction

India is a diverse country, every individual is born and brought up differently. Some are born in a very good environment whereas some are born seeing the fates of life. Criminal psychology depends on what a person sees and what is carried out in his subconscious thus to bridge the difference between the good and the bad, hence the judiciary exists.

Under the code of criminal procedure, every individual has a right to a fair trial and hearing by an independent and unbiased court of law. Section 303 of Cr. P C confers a right upon the accused to be defended by a lawyer that may be of his choice. In case the accused person is unable to appoint a lawyer due to his financial condition then the state shall appoint a pleader at the expense of the state. We all know that a person is innocent till proven guilty. Thus, the system provides a fair chance to the prosecution as well as the accused to prove the charges or cross-examine the witness. 

The judge is a neutral party and is not affiliated with either of the parties unless some bases are holding on to the law and the evidence produced. He uses his consciousness, justiciability and reasonableness to give a decision after hearing both the parties. His decision is challengeable before the higher courts; thus, he has responsibility for the words that he gives after hearing both the parties.

TRIAL: The word trail is not defined in Cr. P. C. So a trial can be defined as a kind or type of inquiry or concluding to find out the guilt or innocence of a person or an individual. Warrant cases are either triable by the sessions court or magistrate whereas the summons cases are triable only by the magistrate.

General Procedure

Criminal cases and murder cases that are sentenced to death are included and tried before the sessions court. The exception is that in some matters the session court acts as a special court.  The Magistrate when any offence is registered will take the cognizance as to how serious the offence / criminal case is and thereafter give his say/ decision to exercise the power to grant bail or remand to custody. Upon the examination as to the seriousness of the offence, the case is being sent to the sessions court. Records of the case along with the articles which are attached are being sent and the public prosecutor is informed.

There are two types of criminal trials (1) Magisterial Trials and (2) Sessions Trial. The first schedule, column 6 of CrPC mentions whether offenses fall within the preview of IPC, and require a trial before the Magistrate or Sessions Judge

The session court will conduct the case as per the provision provided under Sec.225- Sec. 237 of the Cr. P. C 1973.  

Sec. 225 states that in every trial that is conducted by the sessions court there shall be a public prosecutor.

Private advocates can also assist the public prosecutor with the permission of the court. He has to be appointed by the complainant with the permission of the court. They can also file their written arguments with the permission of the court.

Sec. 226 deals with opening cases for the prosecution. Whenever the accused is produced before the court, the prosecution is to open the case and describe the charges brought against him by stating upon what evidence he proposed the guilt of the accused.

A copy of the FIR, Statement recorded by the police, and a police report has to be supplied to the accused.

Sec. 227 deals with discharge. After taking into consideration records of the case and the documents submitted by the prosecution and hearing the submissions of the accused the judge discharges the accused by considering the records and reasons for doing so.

Case law – State of Karnataka v/s L . Muniswamy

In this case, the court held that the judge is to give reasons for his discharge of the accused so that the higher court can examine the rightness of the reasons given by the sessions judge as to why there is no sufficient ground to proceed against the accused.

Sec. 228 deals with the framing of the charge. (1) After the hearing, if the judge believes that there is ground for presuming that the accused has committed the offence which is  

  1. Not exclusively tried by the sessions court, he may frame charges and order or transfer the case for the trial to Chief Judicial Magistrate or any other Magistrate of First class on such date that he deems fit and thereupon such magistrate shall try the offence per the procedure for the trial of warrant cases instituted on a police report.
  2. Is exclusively triable by the sessions court, and the charge against the accused is framed.

(2) when the charge is framed under subsection (b) and clause (1) of section 228 the charge shall be read and explained to the accused in the language he knows and asks if he pleads guilty.

Case law – Bhawan Bai v/s Ganashyam&ors

The Hon’ble Supreme Court has held that when charges are being framed, prima facie cases have to be taken into consideration or seen. The judge is required to record necessary details of the case to check whether the case is beyond a reasonable doubt.

Rukmini Narvekar v/s VijayaSatardekar

It was held that the accused are not allowed to produce evidence at the framing of charge stage. Those materials can be produced which are mentioned in section 227 at the framing of charge. 

Sec. 229 Conviction on a plea of guilty. 

The accused may plead guilty then the judge will record the plea and, at his discretion, convict him.

Case law- Queen Empress v/s Bhadu

The plea of guilty must be in clear terms or else such a plea is considered equal to the plea of not guilty.

Sec. 230 deals with dates for prosecution evidence. In a situation, if the accused does not plead or refuses to plead or is not convicted under sec.229 the judge will fix a date for the examination of the witness and may ask the prosecution for compulsory attendance of any witness or to produce documents or other things in connection to the matter.

Sec. 231 states about evidence for prosecution. 

(1) On the so fixed by the judge all the pieces of evidence should be produced in support of the prosecution, and 

(2) it is the discretion of the judge to allow cross-examination of any witness or suspend until any other witness or witnesses are examined or reexamined for further cross-examination.

Case law- State of Kerala v/s Rasheed 

It was held that there should be a balance between the rights of the accused and the privileges of the prosecution concerning evidence when deciding the application under section 231(2). The followings factors must be taken into consideration 

  1. Possibility of undue influence
  2. Threats 
  3. To give shape to the defence strategy and also that there should not be any postponement of witness
  4. Loss of memory of a witness whose examination of witnesses is complete. 

Section 231 of the CrPC talks about the evidence for the prosecution side in the court of session. The witnesses are examined verbally, it is not adequate to get witnesses cross-examined or deposition in front of the Magistrate or the police, either way, it does not matter if the consent is present of the person who pleads defence in the court. It was seen in the case of Koli Raja Sarwan And Anr. vs The State Of Gujarat that the evidence which was taken in one criminal trial before a session judge will not be treated as evidence in similar cases before the dissimilar bench of judges who were involved with the same accused, even when the advocate concur with the idea. The aim of prosecution should be not only to not secure a conviction but to see if justice is done. The prosecution is not confined to presenting all the witnesses. Only those witnesses are needed to be produced who do not lack the material of the case and are necessary to unfurl the prosecution’s story, Pirthi v. State of Haryana. 

Section 232

Acquittal

 The order of acquittal is recorded by the Judge after

(a) obtaining evidence in support of the prosecution

(b) Examination of the accused

(c) (i) hearing the case of the accused

(ii) defence, he reviewed that there is no evidence present which can point out the fact that the accused has done anything.

The case law Queen-Empress v. Vajiram (1892) has cleared that the words “there is no evidence” should be read as “there is no adequate, irrefutable or reliable evidence” and if there is evidence the trial must go on.

KisanSevaSahakariSamiti Ltd. vs Bachan Singh 

 In the cases where the Session’s Judge dropped the proceeding due to non-availability of the evidence against the accused after the charges against the accused were formed. It was held that the court lacks powers to drop the case in between if the charges have been framed and it has to either convict the accused or acquit him.

Section 233

Entering upon defence

This is a very crucial part of a criminal trial. If the accused has not been acquitted as per the previous sections then the Session Judge calls him to introduce his defence. If the Judge fails to do this then it goes against the fundamentals of justice and it also is not entertained, as per section 464. It was seen in a judgement by Kerala High Court in the case law Bhadran v. State of Kerala that the conviction was set aside because the accused was not offered the opportunity to bring forward his defence.

T.N. Janardhan Pillai v. State of Kerala

It was held that the right of the court to refuse to see the defence of the accused is limited to only a few cases where it seems satisfied. And, the reasons should be well recorded in writing that the application is refused because the defence claims are infuriating, or are causing delay and eventually delaying justice.

Section 234

Arguments

So it explains that when the examination of the witnesses, if there are any, after the closure of evidence for the defence is completed then it means that the case has been summed up on behalf of the prosecutor and the accused or the pleaders wants to give any sort of clarification needed on the condition that finally the case is ending so if the prosecutor wants he can submit the respective important clarification affecting the arguments of the case on behalf of accused.

Section 235

Judgment of Acquittal or Conviction

Section 235[1] says that after hearing all the arguments raised by both sides and also addressing the questions raised on the point of law the judge shall give his judgment on the respective case.

Section 235[2] says that if the accused has been convicted after the judgment has been pronounced by the judge after following the due procedure mentioned in the 360 of the Cr.P.C. and has heard the accused on the question of the sentence and then has passed the sentence on him according to the law.

CASE LAW

AllaudinMian and others Sharif Mian and another v. State of Bihar

Here, in this case, the accused was not adequately represented by his lawyer and due to it was pronounced guilty of murder and was given the death penalty by the trial court. Therefore now the court has held that there was non-compliance with section 235[2] in the case.

So the court has focused that section 235[2] is mandatory and it must comply thoroughly with the law and its non-compliance would not be mere irregularity which can be resolved under section 465 of CrPC.

Section 236

Previous Conviction

This section is applicable only before the trial of the Session Court. 

In Re: Kamya vs Unknown

Held that the purpose of this section is to prevent the accused from being prejudiced at the trial, by preventing the evidence of previous conviction to be put in the present trial. 

Pratap vs State Of U.P

The Supreme Court held that the sentence of a previous conviction doesn’t need to be in force. The fact that the prosecution proved that the person concerned has been previously convicted is enough. 

Section 237

PROCEDURE OF CASES INSTITUTED UNDER SECTION 119[2]

Here, this section explains the cases related to the prosecution of defamation of the vice president, president, governor, administrator, minister of either the state or the union and the public servant in the capacity of his duties. here we have eight subsections mentioned:

Section 237[1] 

It says that the session court taking cognizance of the case under section 199[2] of the Cr.P.C. will be the same as the procedure of the warrant cases unlike the police report presented before the court of the magistrate and also the person against whom the offence has been committed be taken as the witness unless the court specifically authorizes other points.

Section 237[2] 

It says that every trial must be recorded even if the parties agree upon recording the whole process or the court thinks what would be fit for it.

Section 237[3] 

Says about the acquittal in the case.

It is explained here that in any of the respected cases if the court acquits either all or any of the accused on behalf that there was not any valid reason to accuse them. And orders to acquit or discharge over the false allegations other than the president, vice president, governor of the state or the administrator of the union territory and to prove why the compensation should not be provided to the accused.

Section 237[4] 

All the causes which were being directed by the person should be recorded and considered by the Court. And if the court seems satisfied with the fact that there are not any reasonable causes for making the accusation then the court has to record why the charges are not being reasonable and it can make an order to claim compensation from the directed person which should not exceed the limit of one thousand rupees. And, the amount if made will be paid to the accused.

Section 237[5] 

The compensation that has been paid as per sub-section [4] should be recovered in the same manner as if it was a fine imposed by the Magistrate.

Section 237[6]

No person will be exempted from any kind of civil or criminal liability, for those who have been directed to pay compensation as per sub-section [4]. Whatever amount has been paid to the accused will be taken into consideration when compensation has to be awarded to that person in any successive civil suits.

Section 237[7]

The same person who was ordered to pay the compensation will have to go to the High Court if his appeal is related to the payment of the compensation.

Section 237[8]

When the order concerning payment of compensation to the accused, the compensation will not be paid to him before the allowed tenure of the presentation, which has been passed. 

Conclusion

Criminal Procedure Code, 1973 is not just a law but a necessity, to create a sort of discipline and introduce a procedure in the courts. If we started studying it as a compulsion then it will not only disrespect the subject but lack the broad motive of this subject. CrPC was introduced to make things easier in the already filled up Courts in the territory. It takes into account all the possible outcomes of a situation. In this article, we have discussed the one chapter which mentions the procedure that should be followed when the trials are conducted in the session courts. Session court forms the base of the justice system in the Indian Judiciary, it is important to have a stronger base to achieve higher outcomes. 

Categories: Criminal Law

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