Plea Bargaining: A Conceptual Analysis

The Criminal Procedure Code has been updated to include a new chapter, Chapter XXIA, on ‘Plea Bargaining.’ It was enacted by the Criminal Law (Amendment) Act of 2005, which was passed by the legislature during its winter session. The Indian Criminal Justice System has taken on a new look as a result of this. Some of the most notable characteristics of ‘Plea Bargaining’ include the fact that it is applicable to crimes punishable by up to seven years in prison.

Furthermore, it does not apply in circumstances where the crime committed is a socioeconomic crime or where the crime is perpetrated against a woman or a child under the age of 14. Also, once a court issues an order in a ‘Plea Bargaining’ case, there is no right of appeal to any court. Now the concern is whether it will work in the Indian legal system. Is this something we really need? Are we prepared to deal with this new complication? This article attempts to examine the concept of Plea Bargaining, its necessity, and disadvantages, as well as the viability of this novel concept.

Plea Bargaining is a term used to describe pre-trial conversations between the accused and the prosecution in which the accused offers to plead guilty in exchange for specific concessions from the prosecution.

Plea Bargaining’s Definition:

Plea bargaining is a type of pre-trial discussion in which the accused offers to plead guilty in return for such concessions from the prosecution. It’s a deal in which a defendant agrees to plead guilty to a lower charge in exchange for the prosecution dropping more serious accusations. It is not accessible for all types of crimes; for example, after committing serious crimes or crimes punishable by death or life imprisonment, a person cannot claim plea bargaining.

History:

It would be a mistake to believe that the concept of ‘Plea Bargaining’ was only recently adopted by courts. In fact, it was utilized in the American judiciary as early as the nineteenth century. The practice is not mentioned in the Bill of Rights when it establishes the fair trial principle in the sixth amendment, but the validity of plea-bargaining has been upheld repeatedly there. To avoid the death penalty, James Earl Ray pled guilty to the assassination of Martin Luther King, Jr. in 1969. He was eventually sentenced to 99 years in jail. In the United States, more than 90% of criminal cases are never prosecuted. The vast majority of people charged with a crime waive their constitutional rights and plead guilty. Every minute, a criminal case in the United States is resolved by a guilty contendere plea.

Plea Bargaining in India:

The 154th Report of the Law Commission advocated the adoption of ‘plea bargaining’ as an alternative technique to deal with a large backlog of criminal cases in order to minimize the time it takes to resolve criminal matters. The Malimath Committee Report finally backed up the Law Committee’s recommendation. The NDA administration appointed a committee, led by Justice V.S. Malimath, former Chief Justice of the Karnataka and Kerala High Courts, to make recommendations on how to deal with the ever-increasing number of criminal cases. The Malimath Committee proposed that a plea-bargaining mechanism be implemented in the Indian Criminal Justice System to expedite the resolution of criminal cases and minimize the strain on the courts in its report. The Malimath Committee used the achievement of the plea-bargaining procedure in the United States to bolster its position. The draught Criminal Law (Amendment) Bill, 2003 was introduced in parliament as a result.

The Apex Court has declared in State of Uttar Pradesh V. Chandrika 2000 Cr.L.J. 384(386) that it is accepted law that a court cannot dispose of criminal matters based on plea bargaining. The case must be decided on the merits by the court. If the defendant admits guilt, the proper penalty must be carried out. In the same instance, the court ruled that mere acknowledgment or admission of guilt should not be used as a basis for sentencing reduction. The offender cannot also bargain with the court to get his sentence reduced because he has pleaded guilty. Despite the uproar, the government decided it was acceptable, and sections 265-A through 265-L of the Code of Criminal Procedure were inserted to allow for plea bargaining in certain types of criminal cases.

In State of Gujarat V. Natwar Harchanji Thakor (2005) Cr. L.J. 2957, the division bench of the Gujarat High Court stated, “The very object of law is to provide easy, cheap, and expeditious justice by resolving disputes, including the trial of criminal cases, and considering the current realistic profile of pendency and delay in disposal in the administration of law and justice, fundamental reforms are inevitable.” There should be no static in the environment. As a result, it can be argued that it is a true measure and remedy that will give a new dimension to the arena of judicial changes.

This article would be incomplete without a discussion of the problems that lie behind the entire concept. Plea bargaining is, without a doubt, a way for the government to hide its shortcomings in dealing with each and every case that comes before it. It implicitly demonstrates the ineffectiveness of traditional procedural laws.

The following are some of the significant disadvantages of the plea bargaining notion as it is recognised in India:

A) Involving the cops in the plea negotiation process would be a recipe for coercion.

B) The court’s impartiality is questioned by including it in the plea negotiating process.

C) Including the victim in the plea negotiating process encourages corruption.

D) If the accused’s plea of guilty application is denied, the accused will have a difficult time proving his innocence.

Conclusion:

Plea bargaining is not a new notion in India. When India’s constitution was written in 1950, it already acknowledged it. Self-incrimination is prohibited under Article 20(3) of the Indian constitution. Plea bargaining is accused of being in violation of the above mentioned clause. However, as time has passed and the burden on the courts has grown, the Indian court has recognized the need for plea bargaining in the Indian legal system. Change is difficult to accept at first, but society and our legal system both need to progress. Everything has benefits and drawbacks, and both must be considered in order to reach a sound judgment. In any event, rejecting anything solely on the basis of its disadvantages would be unjustified. In India, the notion of plea bargaining is still developing, so it is unrealistic to expect it to be perfect. Debates, conversations, and discourses can only help to better it.

Aishwarya Says:

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