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.
Whether the practice of plea bargaining is unconstitutional?
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.