The term ‘trial’ is said to be a judicial proceeding in acquittal or conviction. Generally, all criminal cases are divided into 2 categories for the purpose of determining the mode of trial; the first one being warrant cases which include offences punishable with death, imprisonment for life or imprisonment for a term exceeding 2 years and other offences which are called as summon cases. Warrant cases are usually the cognizable offences which are serious or grievous in nature and in which the police arrests without warrant. Depending upon the severity of the offence warrant cases are triable by a court of session while the remaining warrant cases are triable by Magistrates.
Different procedures are prescribed by Chapter XIX (sec 283-243) of the Code of Criminal Procedure which divides warrant cases triable by Magistrates into two groups:
Section 283- 243 which deals with Warrant cases instituted on a police report.
Section 244- 247 which deals with Warrant cases instituted otherwise than a police report.
Trial Of Warrant Cases by Magistrates:
As noted above a case relating to an offence punishable with death, imprisonment for life or imprisonment for a term exceeding two years is called as a warrant case which maybe be instituted on a police report as well as otherwise than on a police report.
Cases instituted on a police report:
The pre-trial phase
It is provided in Section 190(1)(b) that the Magistrate may take cognizance of any offence upon a police report of such facts and the facts must be stated by the police report. When any warrant case is instituted on a police report, the accused appears or is brought before the magistrate at the time of the commencement of the trial, the , magistrate shall comply with the provisions of Section 207, is stated in Section 238.
After the documents sent with if any and upon considering the police report under section 173 and making such examination of the accused as the Magistrate thinks necessary and after giving the prosecution and the accused an opportunity of being heard, the Magistrate considers the charge against the accused to be groundless, the accused shall be discharged and reasons for doing so shall be recorded.
It is further stated in Section 240 (2) the charge should not only be read out but should also be explain to the accused in a manner which ensures that the accused has understood it properly as charges framed by the magistrate are based upon the facts as well as the police report submitted to the magistrate. If the accused pleads guilty, the Magistrate shall record the plea and may, in his discretion, convict him thereon which is stated under Section 241.
The actual trial phase:
Section 242 states that if the accused refuses to plead, or does not plead, or claims to be tried, or the Magistrate does not convict the accused under section 241, a date for the examination of the witness shall be fixed by the Magistrate. Further, on the application of the prosecution, the Magistrate may issue a summons to any of its witnesses directing him to attend or to produce any document or other thing. For the purpose of enabling him to explain any circumstances appearing in evidence against him Section 313(1)(b) requires the court to question the accused person.
Further according to Section 243 the accused shall then be called upon to enter upon his defence and produce his evidence; and if the accused puts in any written statement, the Magistrate shall file it with the record. The accused according to this section is enabled to apply to the magistrate to issue any process for compelling the attendance of any witness for the purpose of examination or cross examination or the production of any document or other thing. It is made mandatory by Section243 (1) for the magistrate to file with the record,any written statement submitted by the accused.
Cases Instituted Otherwise Than on A Police Report:
The pre-trial phase
Warrant cases which are instituted on other than police report, the record of the documents
are not available to the court and to the accused person, which makes the preliminary hearing of the prosecution desirable. In such warrant cases, on an application the magistrate may, issue a summon to any of the places directing him to attend or to produce any document or other thing and the same is stated in Section 244.It is obligatory, under Section 200 on the part of the magistrate to examine the complainant and the witnesses. The magistrate, according to Section 202 can postpone the issue of process and form an opinion as to whether the process should be issued or not.
The actual trial phase
If the accused refuses to plead guilty or claims to be tried than according to Section 242 the magistrate shall proceed to take all such evidence as may be produced in support of the prosecution. All the evidence adduced by the prosecution shall be taken into consideration by the magistrate, and he cannot acquit the accused after taking only part of the prosecution evidence.
The post-trial phase
After the arguments of the defence and reasons of the magistrate, under Section 248, the accused shall be either convicted or acquitted. If the accused is found innocent after the framing of charges the magistrate shall record an order of acquittal but if found guilty then the magistrate may after hearing the accused on the question of sentence shall pass a sentence upon him according to law.
Ajoy Kumar Ghose v. State of Jharkhand:
In this case, under section 245(2) the application filed by the appellant was rejected by the trial court, stating it cannot straightway proceed to frame charge under section 246(1) even without any evidence having been taken under section 244. f the view is taken that even without the evidence a charge can be framed under section 246(1) CrPc code, the right of the accused to cross-examine the witnesses at the stage of section 244(1) CrPc Code would be completely lost. Hence herein it is noted that the right of the cross-examination is a very salutary right under the CrPc and the accused has to be given an opportunity to cross-examine the witnesses, who has appeared at the stage of section 244(1) CrPc.
Under the substantive criminal law, be it the Indian Penal Code, 1860 or any other penal statute the Code of Criminal Procedure, 1973 (the CrPC) is the procedural law providing the machinery for punishment of offenders. Our article deals with trials on warrant cases where the offences are cognizable in nature. In cases of warrant cases filed on a police report are very much different from warrant cases filed on a complaint. As noted above in the latter there is no supply of copies to the magistrate and the issue of process can be postponed while in the former there is supply of copies and the issue of process takes place after cognizance by the magistrate.
This article is written by Ruel Correia of Amity University.