Plea Bargaining comes under the section 265(A )– 265( L) of criminal procedural code of India. The term “Plea bargaining” refers to a person charged with a criminal offence negotiating with the prosecution for a lesser punishment than what is provided in law by pleading guilty to a less serious offence. In layman language It is a bargain wherein a defendant pleads responsible to a lesser fee and the prosecutors in go backdrop more serious charges.
MEANING – Plea bargaining is a pretrial negotiation between the accused and the prosecution where the accused agrees to plead guilty in exchange for certain concessions by the prosecution. It is a bargain where a defendant pleads guilty to a lesser charge and the prosecutors in return drop more serious charges. It is not available for all types of crime e.g. a person cannot claim plea bargaining after committing heinous crimes or for the crimes which are punishable with death or life imprisonment.
ABOUT – In law system the need for plea bargaining was not there because of the absence of legal representation but then in 1960’s legal representation was allowed and the need for Plea Bargaining was felt. Although the traces of the origin of the concept of Plea Bargaining is in American legal history. This concept has been used since the 19th century. Judges used this bargaining to encourage confessions.
IN INDIA – Plea Bargaining is not an indigenous concept of Indian legal system. It is a part of the recent development of Indian Criminal Justice System (ICJS). It was inculcated in Indian Criminal Justice System after considering the burden of long-standing cases on the Judiciary. Section 265A to 265L, Chapter XXIA of the Criminal Procedure Code deals with the concept of Plea Bargaining. It was inserted into the Criminal Law (Amendment) Act, 2005. The 154th Report of the Law Commission was first to recommend the ‘plea bargaining’ in Indian Criminal Justice System. It defined Plea Bargaining as an alternative method which should be introduced to deal with huge arrears of criminal cases in Indian courts.
WHEN SOMEONE CAN CLAIM PLEA-BARGAINING – Plea bargaining can be claimed in these following cases –
1. Where the maximum punishment is imprisonment for 7 years;
2. Where the offenses don’t affect the socio-economic condition of the country;
3. When the offenses are not committed against a woman or a child below 14 are excluded
TYPES OF PLEA-BARGAINING Plea Bargaining is generally of three types namely:-
1. Sentence bargaining;
2. Charge bargaining;
3. Fact bargaining.
CASE LAWS – a)In Murlidhar Meghraj Loya vs State of Maharashtra (AIR 1976 SC 1929), The Hon’ble Supreme Court criticized the concept of Plea Bargaining and said that it intrudes upon the society’s interests. b) In Kasambhai vs State of Gujarat (1980 AIR 854) & Kachhia Patel Shantilal Koderlal vs State of Gujarat and Anr, the Apex court said that the Plea Bargaining is against public policy. Moreover, it regretted the fact that the magistrate accepted the plea bargaining of accused. Furthermore, Hon’ble Court described this concept as a highly reprehensible practice. The Court also held that practice of plea bargaining as illegal and unconstitutional and tends to encourage the corruption, collusion and pollute the pure fount of justice. Thippaswamy vs State of Karnataka,  1 SCC 194, the Court said that inducing or leading an accused to plead guilty under a promise or assurance would be violative of Article 21 of the Constitution. The Court also stated that “In such cases, the Court of appeal or revision should set aside the conviction and sentence of the accused and remand the case to the trial court so that the accused can, if he so wishes defend himself against the charge and if he is found guilty, proper sentence can be passed against him”. In State of Uttar Pradesh vs Chandrika 2000 Cr.L.J. 384(386), the Apex Court disparaged the concept of plea bargaining and held this practice as unconstitutional and illegal. Here the Hon’ble Court was of the view that on the plea bargaining Court cannot basis of disposing of criminal cases. The case has to be decided on the merit. In furtherance of the same, court said that if the accused confesses his guilt, he must be given the appropriate sentence as required by the law. In the State Of Gujarat vs Natwar Harchandji Thakor (2005) 1 GLR 709, the Court acknowledged the importance of plea bargaining and said that every “plea of guilty” which is construed to be a part of the statutory process in the criminal trial, should not be understood as a “plea bargaining” ipso facto. It is a matter of matter and has to be decided on a case to case basis. Considering the dynamic nature of law and society, the court said that the very object of the law is to provide an easy, cheap and expeditious justice by resolving disputes.
CONCLUSION – The concept of plea bargaining is not entirely new in India. Indian has already recognized it when it got its constitution in 1950. Article 20(3) of Indian constitution prohibits self-incrimination. People accuse plea bargaining of violatory of the said article. But with the passage of time the considering the encumbrance on the courts, the Indian court has felt the need of Plea bargaining in Indian legal system.
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