A new chapter,that is Chapter XXI1 on Plea Bargaining has been introduced in the Criminal Procedure Code. It was introduced through the Criminal Law (Amendment) Act, 2005, which was passed by the Parliament in its winter session. It became effective from 5thJuly 2006. Originally Plea Bargaining is an American concept its origin can be traced back in America during the 19thCentury. Over the years Plea bargaining has emerged as a prominent feature of the American Judicial System.
What is Plea Bargaining?
Plea Bargaining can be described as a process whereby the accused may bargain with the prosecution for a lesser punishment. In simple words, Plea Bargaining is an agreement (contract) between the accused and the prosecution regarding disposition of the criminal charge levelled by the prosecution against the accused. In layman’s language, it is bargaining done by the accused of a serious and severe offence, with the authority for a lighter punishment in lieu of a full-fledged trial.
An agreement as a result of negotiation between the prosecution and defence (at time, also the judge) which settles a criminal case, usually in exchange for a more lenient punishment. Typically the defendant will plead guilty to a lesser crime or for a fewer charges than originally charged, in exchange for a more lenient punishment than the defendant would get if convicted at trial. It is seen as a win-win for all the parties as the prosecution has a certain conviction on the record, the defendant is provided a more lenient sentence than the risk of a higher one at trial and the judge is freed to move to other cases and dispute to resolve.
Plea Bargaining can conclude a criminal case without a trial. When it is successful, Plea Bargaining results in a plea agreement between the prosecutor and defendant. In this agreement, the defendant agrees to plead guilty without a trial, and, in return the prosecutor agrees to dismiss certain charges or make favourable sentence recommendation to the court. Plea Bargaining is expressly authorized in statutes and in court rules.
Features of Plea Bargaining
- It is applicable on the offense which is punishable with imprisonment for not more than 7 years.
- Deposition of the case on mutually agreed terms.
- A possible concession to accused or culprit by the prosecuting authority.
- The negotiation must be done under judicial purview.
Types of Plea Bargaining
- Charge Bargaining
- Sentence Bargaining
- Fact Bargaining
Benefits of Plea Bargaining
i. Time saving
ii. Money saving
iii. No mental strains
iv. Guaranteed solutions
Who can file Plea Bargaining?
Plea Bargaining is an application for all those whose trail is pending. The accused should be eighteen years or more. The accused should have commit offense for which the punishment is not more than 7 years.
When it can be filed?
It can be filed before the commencement of the actual trail or on any point of the pendency of trail.
I. The acts which are Scio-economic in nature some are as follows :
1.Sati Prevention Act
2. Dowry Prohibition Act
3. The immoral Traffic Prevention Act
4. The Army Act, 1950
5. The Explosive Act, 1884
6. The Protection of Children from Sexual Offense Act, 2012.
According to IPC :
Section 115, Section 119, Section 302, Section 305 etc the offense which carry punishment for more than seven years.
Recent case on Plea Bargaining?
Tablighi Jamaat Case
A Delhi court allowed some foreign nationals from Thailand to walk free on the plea bargaining process after they accepted mild charges in connection with a Tablighi Jamaat congregation at Nizamuddin Markaz here. Metropolitan Magistrate Gagndeep allowed 34 Thailand nationals to walk free on plea bargaining and imposed a fine of Rs, 6,000 each while seven Thai nationals claimed trial.
The foreign nationals from Thailand were represented by advocate Ashima Mandla. The fine has been paid to the PM CARES fund as per the direction of the court, Mandla said.
The court had earlier said that there was prima facie sufficient material on record to proceed against the accused persons under Section14 (b) Foreigners Act, 1946, under provisions of the Epidemic Diseases Act, the Disaster Management Act, and the Indian Penal Code.
Thereafter, the court had summoned all the 41 accused of Thailand who were charge-sheeted in 48 charge sheets and 11 supplementary charge sheets, filed by Crime Branch of Delhi Police in the matter. The court had directed them to physically appear from the court.
The court has recently granted bail to many foreign nationals in connection with the cases related to Tablighi Jamaat congregation in March this year, which had reportedly become an epi centre of COVID-19 spread across the country.