Meaning and concept of Plea bargaining are the negotiations between Accused and prosection, where the accused ready to plead guilty in exchange for a reduction in punishment. If the accused admits his guilt voluntarily, the court may release the accused on probation or reduce the punishment. Plea bargaining introduced in India on 11 January 2006. And Plea bargaining applicable to the cases where the minimum punishment is up to 7 years.
Sakharam Bandekar case is the first case of plea bargaining. Court has rejected his plea and sentence him to 3 years of imprisonment.
Types of plea bargaining
- Sentence bargaining – Accused can bargain for his sentence. If he agrees for charge and in return he gets a lighter sentence.
- Charge bargaining – Accused may plead guilty for a lesser charge in return.
Plea Bargaining has provided in section 265 A to 265 L of Criminal Procedure Code 1973. Meaning and concept of Plea Bargaining
Plea Bargaining Applies to:
- The cases where the officer in charge of police station file report u/s 173 of Criminal Procedure Code against the accused. In which he alleges that the accused has committed the offence other than offence for which punishment of death or imprisonment of life or imprisonment for a term exceeding seven years.
- Where the magistrates take cognizance of an offence on the complaint for the offence other than offence for which punishment of death or imprisonment of life or imprisonment for a term exceeding seven years.
- Plea bargaining does not apply to the offences affecting the socio-economic condition of the country or offence against women or offence against a child below fourteen years of age. The central government issues notification for the kind of offences which affecting the socio-economic condition of the country.
Application for plea bargaining – meaning and concept of plea bargaining-
- The accused person may file an application for plea bargaining in the court where such offence is pending for trial.
- Accused has to mention a brief description of the case in the Application for plea bargaining. Accused has also file affidavit in support of Application for plea bargaining in which he has to state that he has preferred the application voluntarily. He also needs to state that he understood the nature and extent of punishment provided under the law. And also need to mention that he has not previously convicted for the same kind of offence.
- After applying to Plea Bargaining, the court shall issue notice to the complainant and public prosecutor. And accused has to appear on the date fix for the hearing.
- On the date fix for hearing, the Court shall hear the accused in camera. In-camera means other parties of the case shall not present in the court. Court has to satisfy himself that the accused has made application voluntarily.
- When the court has satisfied that the accused has preferred application voluntarily, the court shall provide the time to the complainant and public prosecutor to work out mutually satisfactory deposition, compensation to the victim and other expenses.
Guidelines and Procedure for mutually satisfactory depositions in respect of plea bargaining
- In police cases, the court shall issue a notice to the police officer who has investigated the matter. Court also issued notices to the public prosecutor, the accused and the victim. And call them to participate in the meeting to work out a satisfactory deposition of the case. The court must ensure that the entire process is completed voluntarily by all the parties participated in the meeting. Accused may participate in the meeting through pleader.
- In cases instituted otherwise than on police report, the court issue notice to the victim and accused. And call them to participate in the meeting to work out a satisfactory deposition of the case.
- The court must ensure that the entire process is completed voluntarily by all the parties participated in the meeting. Accused may participate in the meeting through pleader.
Submission of the report before the court
- After submission of the satisfactory deposition before the court, the court shall prepare a report. All the parties who were participated in the meeting and presiding officer shall sign the report.
- And if no such satisfactory deposition works out, in that case, the court shall record the observation and shall proceed the case as per the provisions of the code.
Disposal of the case in pleas bargaining case-Meaning and concept of Plea Bargaining
- When satisfactory deposition has worked out, the court shall dispose of the case. Court award the compensation to the victim as per the satisfactory deposition. And the Court also hears the parties on the quantum of punishment.
- Besides, after hearing of the parties, the court shall release the accused on probation of good conduct as per the provision of section 360 of the Criminal Procedure Code or provisions of Probation of offenders Act. And, the court may sentence to the accused half of minimum punishment if the court finds that minimum punishment has to provided to the accused.
Judgement of the court in case of plea bargaining
Besides, after completion of the above procedure, the court shall deliver its judgment in the open court. And presiding officer shall sign the judgment. However, this Judgement shall be final and no appeal shall to any court.
Powers of court in Plea Bargaining-Meaning and concept of Plea Bargaining
The court shall have all the powers in respect of bail, trial of offences to discharge the functions of plea bargaining. Therefore, the court shall set off the detention of the accused undergone against the sentence. The manner of set-off shall be the same in respect of imprisonment under the other provisions of this code.
The facts and statements stated in an application for plea bargaining shall not use for any other purpose. And the provision of plea bargaining shall not apply to any juvenile or Juvenile Justice Act,2000.
Advantage of Plea Bargaining to the Victim
- Victim gets reasonable compensation
- He gets justice fast
- Plea bargaining saves the time and money of the victim
Advantages of plea bargaining to the Accused
- Accused get lesser punishment
- He may release on probation.
- Fast disposal of case.
- Facts and statements of accused application can not use anywhere.
- It saves time and money for the accused.
Murlidhar Meghraj Loya vs State of Maharashtra
The Hon’ble Supreme Court observed that Plea bargaining is against society’s interest and hence criticized the concept.
Kasambhai vs State of Gujarat & Kachhia Patel Shantilal Koderlal vs State of Gujarat and Anr
The Supreme Court observed that pleas bargaining is against the public policy. However, the court said that the plea bargaining as illegal and unconstitutional and tends to increase the corruption, and infect the system of justice.
In the above article, I have tried to explain the law of plea bargaining of India in simple words. That helps to understand the concept for the students or non-legal background person.
Plea bargaining – Conclusion:
Hence, Plea bargaining helps to resolve the long-standing cases fast. It also helps to reduce the burden of pending cases of the courts. And therefore it helps to get dispose of the case fast which helps both the parties.
Also read Meaning of section 188 of IPC
Article Times of India on Plea bargaining click here