Process of Criminal Trial in India

1. Laws Governing Criminal Trial in India:

Cr.P.C. is a procedural law for conducting a criminal trial in India, it prescribes the manner for collection of evidence, examination of witnesses, interrogation of accused, arrests, safeguards and procedure to be adopted by Police and Courts, bail, process of criminal trial, method of conviction, and the rights of the accused for a fair trial.

IPC is the main penal law of India, which is applicable to all offences, except as may be provided under any other law in India. It’s basically talks about what constitutes offence and punishment.

Indian Evidence Act is an act which deals with the production of the evidence and its evaluation. There are certain other laws, which have been enacted to deal with criminality in special circumstances.

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2. Onus of Proof in The Criminal Trial:

India follows the adversarial system, where generally the onus of proof is on the State (Prosecution) to prove the case against the accused, and until and unless the allegation against the accused are proved beyond reasonable doubt, the accused is presumed to be innocent. In certain exceptional cases, which may relate to terrorism, etc., the onus of proof has been put on the accused person, who claims to be not guilty.

3. Types of Offences:

Bailable Offence, means an offence, which has been categorized as bailable, and in case of such offence, bail can be claimed, subject to fulfilment of certain conditions, as a matter of right under Section 436 of the Cr.P.C.

Non-bailable Offence means an offence in which the bail cannot be granted as a matter of right, except on the orders of a competent court. In such cases, the accused can apply for grant of bail under Section 437 and 439 of the Cr.P.C. It is important to note that the grant of bail in a non-bailable offence is subject to judicial discretion of the Court, and it has been mandated by the Supreme Court of India that “Bail, not Jail” should be the governing and guiding principle.

Cognizable Offence/case, has been defined under Section 2 (c) of Cr.P.C., as an offence/case in which a Police Office can arrest without a warrant.

Non-cognizable Offence/case, has been defined under Section 2 (l) of Cr.P.C., as an offence/case in which a Police Officer has no authority to arrest without a warrant.

  1. Investigation Process and Mechanism:

On complaint /reporting /knowledge of the commission of a cognizable offence, any police officer, even without the orders of a Magistrate, can investigate the cognizable case. [Section 156 (1) of the Cr.P.C.] b. In case of failure or inaction of a police officer to investigate a cognizable offence, a criminal complaint can be filed before a Magistrate under Section 190 of Cr.P.C., for taking cognizance of such offence, and on such complaint, the Magistrate himself can take cognizance of the case and do the enquiry, or in the alternative under Section 156 (3) of the Cr.P.C., order Police to register an F.I.R and investigate the offence. c. In case of non-cognizable offence, Police is not obliged to investigate, and the judicial process can be started by filing a criminal complaint before the competent court, under Section 190 of the Cr.P.C.

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