Stages of criminal proceedings

Criminal proceedings are set in motion with the commission of an offence. The steps involved in various stages of Criminal proceedings are more in number and higher in complexity as compared to Civil Proceedings because of the constitutionally mandated rights given to the accused.

In criminal cases, the most important stage is the Pre-Trial Stage which includes arrest and investigation, and collection of evidence by Police. It is imperative to understand the types of cases in Criminal Proceedings.

Based on the type of offense (cognizable/non-cognizable), there are three types of criminal cases according to CrPC:
Warrant case (offenses punishable with death, life imprisonment or imprisonment exceeding 2 years)
Summons case (offenses punishable with imprisonment of less than 2 years)
Summary case (offenses punishable with imprisonment of not more than 6 months)

While the proceedings in each of these cases are more or less the same, the procedures are relatively relaxed in Summons cases and extremely relaxed in Summary cases. Here, we will focus on the most stringent procedure to be followed in Warrant Cases.

Illustration A:

Mr. X. through his contacts, arranged for a gym to open during lockdown and brought 20 other friends to work out together.
Mr. X was caught red-handed by the Police and was arrested under Section 188, IPC (cognizable and bailable offence) for disobeying lockdown orders.
Mr. X gets bail immediately (as it is a bailable offence) and calls you to ask what happens next.

various stages of criminal proceedings.

The criminal proceedings are divided into following three stages with their respective steps as mentioned in the following diagram:


Trial means a determination of issues adjudging the guilt or innocence of a person. There is always a confusion pertaining to when does a trial commence. Does it commence after the police complete its investigation or when the police file the charge sheet or at the time when the Court frames the charge? The Supreme Court in Hardeep Singh & Ors v. State of Punjab & Ors, (2014) 3 SCC 92 has held that the trial commences only when charges are framed against the accused.

Revisiting Illustration A, the criminal proceedings will be conducted in the following manner:
It’s a summary case, FIR will be registered u/s 154, CrPC.
Inquiry and investigation Report will be prepared with evidence against Mr. X
Final report will be filed before the Magistrate along with a copy of complaint by the Public Servant as per Section 195(1)(a) CrPC.
Summons will be issued to demand the appearance of the accused (Mr. X) before the Magistrate.
Arguments will take place on the charges.
Based on the arguments, Mr. X will either be discharged or the case will proceed to trial. Given the fact that it is a minor offence, in all likelihood, the Magistrate will either discharge at this stage or impose fine or both instead of proceeding to Trial.


Aishwarya Says:

I have always been against Glorifying Over Work and therefore, in the year 2021, I have decided to launch this campaign “Balancing Life”and talk about this wrong practice, that we have been following since last few years. I will be talking to and interviewing around 1 lakh people in the coming 2021 and publish their interview regarding their opinion on glamourising Over Work.


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