This article is written by Kratika Singhal of 3rd Year of Government Law College Kota, Rajasthan, an intern under Legal Vidhiya
This article examines the importance of judgement and sentences under the Criminal Procedure Code, 1973. Chapter 27 of the Code of Criminal Procedure,1973 deals with matters relating to judgement and the delivery of judgement. Judgement is a very important and a basic term used in our daily lives. It means to analyse a certain situation and forming a notion thereafter. In a legal sense, judgement is decision given by the Court, after hearing both the sides as it contains reasons for reaching such a conclusion. Therefore, it is imperative to study various aspects of judgement from a judicial point of view.
Keywords: sentences, conviction, delivery, acquittal, intimated, pronouncement, criminal jurisprudence, unconstitutional, capital punishment.
Judgement is a very basic term used in our daily lives in normal parlance. Generally, it means analysing a certain situation and forming a notion thereafter. In a legal sense, judgement is the decision given by the Court, after hearing both the sides as it contains the complete reasons for reaching such a conclusion. The judgement thus forms an important and an integral part of a legal process. A faulty or an imperfect judgement has the potential to deteriorate the very foundation of the legal justice system in the country. As it is rightly said by Cicero, “The people’s good law is the highest law”. Therefore, it is imperative to study various aspects of judgement from a judicial point of view.
Judgement (Chapter 27, CRPC)
Chapter 27 of the Code of Criminal Procedure,1973 deals with matters relating to judgement and the delivery of judgement. The Code itself does not provide for a definition of the term “judgement”. It can be understood as the final order of the court, a trial that terminates either in conviction of the accused (if found guilty) or acquittal of the accused (if found innocent).
In the case of Surendra Singh v. State of U.P., the Supreme Court defined the term judgement as “the final decision of the court intimated to the parties and to the world at large by formal ‘pronouncement’ or ‘delivery’ in open court.”
How is the Judgement to be delivered?
According to Sec. 353, Cr.P.C., 1973 provides for the manner in which the judgement of a criminal court has to be delivered. It states that judgement should be pronounced immediately after the end of trial or at some subsequent time with notice to both sides. It has to be pronounced in open court by the presiding officer by
- delivering the whole of the judgement or
- reading out the whole judgement or
- reading out the operative part of the whole judgement and
- explaining the substance of the judgement in the understandable language.
It is the fundamental rule of criminal jurisprudence that the judge who hears the evidence should write the judgement. It was held in Surendra Singh v. State of U.P., that a judgement written by a judge cannot be delivered by another judge. It is merely considered as an opinion.
Where the judgement is delivered by the Presiding officer, the officer shall take down the judgment in short hand, sign the transcript and every page and mention the date of delivery on it in Open Court. The whole judgement or a copy thereof shall be immediately made available for perusal of the parties or their pleaders free of cost.
No judgment delivered by any Criminal Court shall not be treated as invalid merely by the reason of the absence of any party or his pleader on the day or from the place notified for the delivery or of any omission to serve or defect in serving, on the parties or their pleaders, or any of them, the notice of such day and place.
What constitutes a Judgment?
According to Sec. 354, Cr.P.C., 1973 provides for the language and the contents and the particulars of a judgement. According to the section, some essentials of every Judgement shall be:
- It should be written in the language of the court which is to be determined by the State Government.
- It should contain the relevant point or points of determination and the reasons for the decision.
- It should be a speaking order and must therefore contain the specifications as to the offence (if any) of which the accused is convicted and the punishment he is sentenced to.
Where the conviction is under IPC 1860 and it is doubtful under the two sections or under two parts of the same section of the Code the offence falls, the Court shall clearly express the same and pass judgement in the alternative.
If any offence is punishable with imprisonment for life or death, and the court in the instant case, prescribes the death penalty, it is duty bound to furnish the reasons for the same. If the offence punishable with imprisonment for a term of one year or more, but the Court imposes a sentence of imprisonment for a term of less than three months, it shall record its reasons for awarding such sentence, unless the sentence is one of imprisonment till the rising of Court or unless the ease was tried was tried summarily. When any person is sentenced to death, the sentence shall direct that he be hanged by the neck till death.
Which expressions of the Court’s opinion do not qualify as a Judgement?
A judgement is an expression of the opinion of the criminal court. All expressions of the criminal court other than a judgement of conviction or acquittal fall in the category of orders. In order to constitute a judgment, the decision of the Criminal Court must be final. An order of discharge cannot be regarded as the final pronouncement of the Magistrate, because as laid down by authorities, a fresh complaint may be made on the same facts, notwithstanding the order of discharge.
Who is a victim?
According to Sec. 2(wa), Cr.P.C., 1973 which was introduced vide the Cr.P.C. (Amendment) Act, 2008 defines victim as “a person who has suffered any loss or injury caused by the reason of act or omission for which the accused person has been charged and the expression ‘victim’ includes his or her guardian or legal heir.”
What is the victim compensation scheme?
The victim of a crime, in addition to the physical and/or mental injury suffers from certain monetary losses as well. The idea that Section 357, Cr.P.C., 1973 incorporates is the combination of the roles of the Civil Court (which awards damages/compensation to the aggrieved party) and Criminal Court (which punishes the offender) to an extent by empowering the Criminal Court to grant compensation to the victim and to order the payment of costs of the prosecution. The order for compensation can be passed by
a) the Trial Court – at the time of passing of the judgement.
b) the Appellate Court (or High Court or Court of Sessions) – in revisional matters.
The fine may be imposed in the following cases:
a) To meet the prosecution expenses;
b) If any loss or injury is caused to the victim, when such compensation is recoverable in Civil Cases;
c) In cases where a death has been caused or where a person has abetted the commission of such an offence and the victim is entitled to recover damages under the Fatal Accidents Act, 1976;
d) The court in its discretion may impose fine where fine does not form a part of the sentence.
Section 357-A talks about victim compensation scheme. It assigns the role of formulating victim, compensation schemes to the State governments and the legal services authorities are supposed to carry out its implementation. This victim compensation scheme applies to the victims irrespective of the outcome of the prosecution. Every state Government along with the Central Government shall prepare a scheme for providing funds for the purpose of compensation to the victim or his dependents who have suffered any loss or injury as a result of the crime and who require rehabilitation. When the court recommends for compensation, the District Legal Service Authority or the State Legal Service Authority shall decide the quantum of compensation to be awarded under the scheme.
If the trial Court is dissatisfied on the adequacy of the compensation or where the cases end in acquittal or discharge and the victim has to rehabilitated, it may make recommendation for compensation. Where the victim is identified but not the offender and where no trial takes place, the victim or his dependents may make an application to the State or the DLSA for award of compensation.
Section 357-B and Section 357-C have enhanced the protection given to victims by providing for additional compensation to be given in addition to the fine and guidelines for medical treatment of the victims, respectively.
Additionally, Section 358 of the Code provides for compensation to persons who have groundlessly been arrested. The essential requirements for the application of this section are:
a) a person must have caused another person to be arrested by a police officer;
b) the Magistrate hearing the case must be of the opinion that there was no sufficient ground for causing the arrest.
Then the Magistrate may award compensation maximum up to one thousand rupees to the arrested person by the person who has caused such arrest. And in default of such payment, the person by whom it is payable shall be sentenced to simple imprisonment for the term not exceeding thirty days as the Magistrate directs.
Under Section 359 of the Code, the Criminal Courts (and the Courts of Appeal, in cases of revision) are empowered to pass an order for compensation in non-cognizable cases. And in default of such payment, the accused shall suffer simple imprisonment for the term not exceeding thirty days and such costs may include any expenses incurred in respect of process-witness and pleader’s fees which the Court may consider reasonable.
How is the Quantum of Compensation calculated?
The quantum of compensation is determined by taking note of the nature of the crime, injury/ loss suffered and the capacity of the convict to pay the aforesaid compensation. In the case of Manish Jalan v. State of Karnataka, the Apex Court held that the amount of compensation has to be reasonable. It must not be vague.
In Karan v. State NCT of Delhi 277(2021) DLT 195 (FB), Quantum of Compensation is to be determined by the Court depending upon
- the gravity of offence,
- severity of physical and mental harm/injury suffered by the victim,
- losses /damage suffered by the victims and the capacity of the accused to pay.
While determining the paying capacity of the accused, the Court has to take into consideration the present occupation and income of the accused. The accused can also be asked to pay monthly compensation out of his aforesaid income.
The key provisions related to Judgement incorporated in the Cr.P.C., 1973
Section 362 of the Code states that no Court, when it has signed its judgement or final order disposing off a case can alter or review the same unless it is done in order to correct clerical errors. Section 363 provides that a copy of the judgement has to be given to the accused and other persons.
Section 364 of the Code provides for “The original judgment shall be filed with the record of the proceedings and where the original is recorded in a language different from that of the Court and the accused so requires, a translation thereof into the language of the Court shall be added to such record”.
Section 365 of the Code provides that in case tried by the court of sessions or by a chief judicial magistrate, the court or such magistrate shall forward a copy of the sentence/finding to the district magistrate within whose local jurisdiction the trial was held. The logic behind this provision is to keep the District Magistrate informed about the serious crimes.
SENTENCES (Chapter 32, CRPC)
Execution of sentence is dealt in Chapter 32 of Criminal Procedure Code, 1973. In awarding of sentence, the judge has wide discretion within the statutory limits. Therefore, each judge works in his own discretion and the sentence given by him is based on his own judgment. Sentences can vary in the way they are implemented. There are several factors which affect the matters of executing sentence. There are various statutory and constitutional provisions which suspend, remit or commute sentences given to the convict.
Under the Indian Constitution, 1950 Article 72 and 161 empowers the governor and the president to grant pardon or commute the sentence. This power is exercised by the head of the state i.e. either by the Governor or by the President. The executive can show mercy to the convict by way of remission, suspension or commutation of sentence. The basic purpose is to take into consideration certain aspects of the case which do not arise during the proceedings in the court of law. Thus, its courts discretion as to decide the terms of sentence given to a convict. In the case of State of M.P. v. Bablu Natt, the Supreme Court stated that “the principle governing imposition of punishment would depend upon the factuals and circumstances of each case. An offence which affects the morale and integrity of the society should be severely dealt with.”
TYPES OF SENTENCES
- DEATH SENTENCE
Under Section 366 of Cr.P.C, 1973, a session judge cannot execute a death sentence without the confirmation of High Court, till the time the convict remains in jail. Then the High Court looks into the case under section 388 and can: –
- Confirm the sentence given by Session Court
- Annul the conviction on the accused and convict the accused of the same charges as that of the Session Court or may order for fresh proceedings.
- May acquit the person as the time for appeal has not been lapsed yet or the appeal has been disposed of.
In the judgment of Attorney General of India v. Lachma Devi, it was held that “Execution of Death sentence hanging publicly is unconstitutional being inhuman.”
The State Government has the power to direct the place of imprisonment for any person who is convicted under Cr.P.C, 1973. Place of Imprisonment Under section 417 of Cr.P.C, if a person is sentenced under the provisions of Cr.P.C and is restricted in jail than the magistrate of the court intends to order the person so sentenced, must be shifted to criminal jail.
If a person who was transferred to criminal jail from the civil jail, will be sent back to civil jail unless-
- Three years have been elapsed since he was moved to criminal jail, in this case he shall be released under Section 58 of Civil Procedure Code, 1908 or Section 23 of the Provincial Insolvency Code.
- The court which ordered his imprisonment in civil jail orders the officer-in-charge of the criminal jail to release the convict under Section 58 of CPC,1908 or Section 23 of the Provincial Insolvency Code.
In the leading case of Ishwar Bhai Hirabhai Churana v. State of Gujarat, the Section 418, Cr.P.C was held to be mandatory and the court also owes a duty to ensure that the sentenced is executed, otherwise the accused may avoid it. Execution of Direction of a Warrant Under Section 419 of Cr.P.C, warrant for the execution of a sentence of imprisonment has to be directed to the officer in charge of the jail or any other place in which the accused is to be confined. And under section 420 of Criminal Procedure Code, 1973, if the person is to be confined in jail, then the warrant needs to be given to the jailor.
- LEVY OF FINE Warrant for levy of fine According to Section 421 of Criminal Procedure Code, 1973, when the offender has been sentenced to pay a fine, it can be recovered either or both of the following ways-
- Issue a warrant for levy the amount through attachment and sale of any movable property belonging to the offender.
- Issue a warrant to the Collector of district, ordering him to collect the amount as arrears of land revenue from the movable or immovable property.
It is to be noted that if it is mentioned that there shall be imprisonment if default of payment arises and if the offender has already undergone such imprisonment in default, no court will issue such warrants unless there are some special circumstances which have to be recorded in writing or there is an order for the payment of expenses or compensation out of the fine under Section 357 of Cr.P.C, 1973.
To conclude it could be said that the sentence awarded by the judiciary to an offender can be executed, remitted or suspended by the executive authority. The provisions of the Criminal Procedure Code, 1973 give various powers to the President and Governor of the state to amend the sentence of the offender. Whereas execution of sentence is done in the case of death, life imprisonment or levy of fine. Remission and suspension mean to reduce the term of sentence and to postpone the sentence without changing the duration of the sentence. There are separate provisions for the pregnant woman where she cannot be given capital punishment. The warrant is to be issued in the name of offender to the officer-in-charge of jail. There are separate provisions given in Criminal Procedure Code, 1973, to the law breakers.
 Surendra Singh v. State of U.P. AIR 1954 Supreme Court
 Code of Criminal Procedure, 1973, § 353, No. 2, Acts of Parliament, 1973 (India)
 Code of Criminal Procedure, 1973, § 354, No. 2, Acts of Parliament, 1973 (India)
 Code of Criminal Procedure, 1973, § 357, No. 2, Acts of Parliament, 1973 (India)
 Code of Criminal Procedure, 1973, § 357A, No. 2, Acts of Parliament, 1973 (India)
 Code of Criminal Procedure, 1973, § 358, No. 2, Acts of Parliament, 1973 (India)
 Code of Criminal Procedure, 1973, § 359, No. 2, Acts of Parliament, 1973 (India)
 Manish Jalan v. State of Karnataka CRIMINAL APPEAL NO. 1066 OF 2008
 Karan v. State NCT of Delhi 277(2021) DLT 195 (FB
 Code of Criminal Procedure, 1973, § 362, No. 2, Acts of Parliament, 1973 (India)
 Code of Criminal Procedure, 1973, § 363, No. 2, Acts of Parliament, 1973 (India)
 Code of Criminal Procedure, 1973, § 364, No. 2, Acts of Parliament, 1973 (India)
 Code of Criminal Procedure, 1973, § 365, No. 2, Acts of Parliament, 1973 (India)
 State of M.P. v. Bablu Natt, (2009) 2 SCC 272
 Code of Criminal Procedure, 1973, § 366, No. 2, Acts of Parliament, 1973 (India)
 Attorney General of India v. Lachma Devi, AIR 1986 SC 467.
 Code of Criminal Procedure, 1973, § 417, No. 2, Acts of Parliament, 1973 (India)
 Ishwarbhai Hirabhai Churana v. State of Gujarat, R/SCR.A/9112/2016