A new chapter, that is Chapter XXI1onPlea Bargaining has been introduced in the Criminal Procedure Code. It was introduced through the Criminal Law (Amendment) Act, 2005, which was passed by the Parliament in its winter5 session. It became effective from 5thJuly 2006. Originally Plea Bargaining is an American concept its origin can be traced back in America during the 19thCentury. Over the years Plea bargaining has emerged as a prominent feature of the American Judicial System.
In India Plea Bargaining has certainly changed the face of the Indian Criminal Justice System. Plea Bargaining is applicable in respect of those offences for which punishment is up to a period of 7 years. Moreover, it does not apply to cases where the offence committed is a Socio-Economic offence or where the offence is committed against a woman or a child below the age of 14 years. Also, once the court passes an order in the case of Plea Bargaining no appeal shall lie to any court against that order.
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.
SALIENT FEATURES OF PLEA BARGAINING:
Following are the silent features of Plea Bargaining;
1.It is applicable in respect of those offences for which punishment is up to a period of 7 years.
2.It does not apply to cases where offence is committed against a woman or a child below the age of 14 years
3.When court passes an order in the case of plea bargaining no appeal shall lie to any court against that order.
4.It reduces the charge.
5.It drops multiple counts and press only one charge.
6.It makes recommendation to the courts about punishment or sentence.
TYPES OF PLEA BARGAINING:
- Charge Bargain
- Sentence Bargain
- Fact Bargain
OBJECT OF PLEA BARGAINING:
- To reduce the pending litigation
- To decrease the number of under trial prisoners.
- To make provision of compensation to the victim of crimes by the accused.
- To cut delay the disposal of criminal cases.
DRAWBACKS OF PLEA BARGAINING:
Some of the major drawbacks of the concept of Plea Bargaining as is recognized in India are as under;
1) Threat to right to fair trial.
2) Involving the Police in Plea Bargaining process would invite coercion.
3) By involving the court in Plea Bargaining process the court impartially is impugned.
4)Involving the victim in Plea Bargaining process would invite corruption.
5)If the plead guilty application of the accused in reject, then the accused would face great hardship to prove himself innocent.
To ensure fair justice, Plea Bargaining must encompass the following minimum requirements namely,
1) The hearing must take place in court.
2) The court must satisfy itself that the accused is pleading guilty knowingly and voluntarily.
3) Any court order rejecting a Plea Bargaining application must be kept confidential to prevent prejudice to the accused.
To conclude, Plea Bargaining is undoubtedly, a disputed concept few people have welcomed it while others have abandoned it. It is true that Plea Bargaining speeds up caseload disposition, but it does that in an unconstitutional manner. But perhaps we have no other choice but to adopt this technique. The criminal court are too overburdened to allow each and every case to go on trial. Only time will tell if the introduction of this concept is justified or not.
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