When exercising criminal jurisdiction under the Code of Criminal Procedure 1973, the district court is referred to as the sessions court. The State government establishes a court for each session division under Section 9 of the Code of Criminal Procedure, 1973. The court is presided over by a Judge chosen by the state's High Court. In this court, the High Court may also appoint Additional Sessions Judges and Assistant Sessions Judges. In India, the Sessions Court is in charge of making decisions on criminal cases. Murders, theft, dacoity, pick-pocketing, and other such offences are prosecuted by the court. A trial is an important procedure for determining whether an accused person is guilty of an offence. Criminal cases are divided into two categories based on the gravity of the offence: summons cases and warrant cases. The more serious warrant matters are heard by the Court of Session, while the less serious cases are heard by the Courts of Magistrate. Even if an offence is triable by a Court of Session, it cannot take cognizance of it. A competent Magistrate takes cognizance of any offence and refers the case to a Court of Session for trial.
There is a codified procedure laid down for trail before session court:
A public prosecutor shall conduct the prosecution in a trial before a court of session. The accused has the right to select his own counsel. If he cannot afford to hire a defence attorney, the court will do so at the expense of the state. Before the trial begins, the accused is given copies of documents such as the police report, the F.I.R., and so on.
The public prosecutor begins the case by detailing the charges levelled against the accused. He briefly describes the evidence he intends to use to show guilt. The prosecutor's responsibility is not to gain a conviction, but rather to present the facts of the case to the tribunal, which will decide.
If the court determines that there is insufficient evidence to proceed against the accused after hearing from both parties, it dismisses him and records the grounds for doing so. There is no opportunity for any witness to be examined, but both sides can explain their case in favour of formulating a charge or discharge.
If the offence is exclusively triable by the Court of Session, the charge must be made in writing. If the offence is not exclusively triable by the session's court, the charge is framed and the case is sent to the Chief Judicial Magistrate. It was held in Kanti Bhadra Shah &anr v. State of West Bengal that “the Judge is not compelled to record his reasons for filing the charges against the accused when exercising power under Section 228 CrPC.”
Only the prima facie case must be considered when formulating charges. The Judge is not obliged to record a detailed order at this stage in order to determine if the matter is beyond reasonable doubt, as held by the Supreme Court in Bhawna Bai v. Ghanshyam &Ors. The Court concluded in Rukmini Narvekar v. Vijaya Satardekar that the accused cannot provide any evidence at the stage of charge formulation and that only those materials stated in Section 227 can be taken into consideration at the time of charge framing.
The judge must record the accused's guilty plea if it is made, and he may thereafter convict the defendant based on that plea if he so chooses. In Queen Empress v. Bhadu, it was determined that the plea of guilty must be in unambiguous terms, else it is regarded comparable to a plea of not guilty. Section 229 stipulates that if an accused pleads guilty, the Judge must condemn him at his discretion and record the conviction. The Court cannot condemn an accused only on the basis of a guilty plea if the offence is punishable by death or life imprisonment. In HasaruddinMohommad v. Emperor, the Court stated that it will be reluctant to condemn a person accused of an offence punishable by death or life imprisonment only on the basis of his guilty plea. Section 375 restricts the accused's right to appeal if he is convicted on the basis of his guilty plea.
Unless the accused refuses to plead, does not plead, claims to be tried, or is not convicted under Section 229, the judge shall set a date for the examination of witnesses and may order the compelling appearance of any witness or the production of adocument.
On the mentioned date, the court hears all evidence in support of the prosecution.
The judge may, at his discretion, suspend cross examination of any witness until all other witnesses have been examined or recall any witness for further cross examination. In Ram Prasad v. State Of Uttar Pradesh, the Supreme Court declared that “if the court determines that the prosecution failed to examine witnesses for reasons that were not tenable or reasonable, the Court would be justified in drawing an inference adverse to the prosecution.”
If the judge believes that the accused did not commit the offence after hearing from both parties, record an order acquitting the accused.
Unless the accused is not acquitted, he will be summoned to enter his defence. Any person may be summoned or examined as a court witness at any time.
The court renders a decision of acquittal or conviction after hearing arguments from both sides. In this regard, the Supreme Court declared in Santa Singh v. State of Punjab that “the Judge must first pass a sentence of conviction or acquittal. If the accused is convicted, he must be heard on the issue of sentence before the Court can deliver a sentence against him”.
The judge may take evidence in relation to the claimed prior conviction and shall make a decision thereon, provided however, that no such charge shall be read by the judge, nor shall the accused be asked to plead to it, nor shall the previous conviction be alluded to by the prosecution or in any evidence adduced by it, unless and until the accused has been convicted under Sections 299 or 235.
The Court of Session taking cognizance of an offence under subsection (2) of section 199 shall try the case in line with the procedure for the trial of warrant cases filed before a court of magistrate other than on a police report.
i) Every trial under this provision shall be held in camera if either party requests it or if the court deems it necessary.
ii) The court shall record and take into account any justification that may be presented by the person so directed. If the court determines that there was no justification for the charge, it may issue an order requiring the person to pay compensation to the accused, or to each of them individually, in an amount not to exceed Rs. 1000.
iii) Whenever an order for payment of compensation to an accused person is made, the compensation should not be paid to him until the period permitted for the presentation of the appeal has elapsed, or, if an appeal is presented, until the appeal is decided.
The Code of Criminal Procedure guarantees the accused a fair trial and takes every attempt to avoid any delays in investigation or trial. In every case, the Judge guarantees that the accused is given a fair chance to hear and defend his case. The Code also offers legal aid to an indigent accused who is unable to hire a counsel, in accordance with the Constitution and Section 304, to ensure that no one accused of committing an offence is wrongfully convicted and that justice is done.