Criminal Trident Pack: IPC, CrPC and IEA by Sr. Adv. G.S Shukla and Adv. Raghav Arora
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Neither the judge, nor the accused, nor the petitioner can bargain with the court with regard to the reduction of sentence

Karishma Yadav ,
  26 May 2020       Share Bookmark

Court :

Brief :
Courts cannot dispose criminal cases on the basis of plea bargaining, it has to be done on merits. It is the duty of the courts to award proper sentence keeping in mind the nature of offence and the manner in which it was committed. Undue sympathy to impose inadequate sentence will harm the process of justice and will weaken the confidence of public in the courts.
Citation :
STATE OF UTTAR PRADESH vs. CHANDRIKA Citation- (1980) 3 SCC 120
  • Date of judgment- 29th October 1999
  • Bench- Justice KT Thomas and Justice MB Shah

Facts of the case

High court passed a judgment after accepting a plea bargain and maintained a conviction of the respondent under Section 304 IPC but altered the sentence of period of imprisonment. The State challenged the order by a special leave, saying it is illegal and erroneous as the concept of plea bargaining is not recognized by the criminal justice system and is against the public policy.

Issues raised in the case

Whether the practice of plea bargaining is unconstitutional?

Rules involved in the case

  • Section 265-A of CrPC- Applicability of plea bargaining
  • Chapter XXI A- Criminal Amendment Act, 2005

Arguments of the Petitioner

  • Neither the State nor the public prosecutor nor even the Judge can bargain that evidence would not be led or appreciated in consideration of getting flee bite sentence by pleading guilty.
  • In Madanlal Ram Chandra Daga etc. v. State of Maharashtra, court held, it is very wrong for a court to enter into a bargain of this character as offences should be tried and punished according to the guilt of the accused.
  • This practice would also tend to encourage corruption and collusion and as a direct consequence, contribute to the lowering of the standard of justice.
  • In Thippaswamy v. State of Karnataka, court observed that it would be violative of Article 21 of the Constitution to induce an accused to plead guilty under a promise or assurance that he would be let off lightly.

Ratio Decidendi

Courts cannot dispose criminal cases on the basis of plea bargaining, it has to be done on merits. It is the duty of the courts to award proper sentence keeping in mind the nature of offence and the manner in which it was committed. Undue sympathy to impose inadequate sentence will harm the process of justice and will weaken the confidence of public in the courts.

When there is an admission of guilt made by the accused as a result of plea bargaining or otherwise, the evaluation of the evidence by the Court is likely to become a little superficial and the Court may be decide the sentence not by assessing the evidence but as a formality in support of admission of guilt. This will hamper the process of justice.

If the accused is guilty, appropriate sentence is required to be imposed or maintained. Mere acceptance of the guilt should not be a ground for reduction of sentence. Nor can the accused bargain with the Court that as he is pleading guilty sentence be reduced.

Therefore, any conviction based on a plea of guilty, which is result of plea bargaining with the judge, must be held illegal and unconstitutional.

 
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