1 POST TRIAL RIGHT OF A CONVICTED PERSON IN INDIA
The word Trial has not been defined anywhere in Criminal Procedure Code. Based on the scheme of Criminal Procedure Code trial can be defined as a judicial examination or scrutiny of facts of the case and based on evidences and arguments made in the court of law arriving at a well formed conclusion based on reasonable grounds. In simple words trial can be said to be a process to determine the guilt or innocence of a person through adjudication by a competent court having jurisdiction. The objective of a criminal trial is to determine whether the accused is guilty or innocent.
In criminal justice system starting from the registration of F.I.R. which is the first step to set criminal law in motion to the pronouncement of judgement there are three stages of a criminal trial.
3 STAGES OF A CRIMINAL TRIAL:
3.1 Pre-trial stage: This stage is primarily concerned with the role of police in administration of justice as investigation done by police forms the basis of a criminal trial. It includes processes like arrest, investigation, custody, search, seizure, recording of statements, bail and submission of report to Magistrate by the police under section 173(2) in which either Charge Sheet or Final Closure Report is submitted.
3.2 Trial : When the Magistrate takes cognizance of the case under section 190 of Cr.P.C. and if in his opinion there are sufficient and reasonable grounds present for proceeding with the case, with the issue of process under Section 204 of Cr.P.C. the trial stage begins.
3.3 Post trial stage : We do not find any explicit mention of post trial stage in the Criminal Procedure Code. With the conclusion of trial resulting in conviction or acquittal of the accused. As provided in the Criminal Procedure Code there can be following outcomes with the end of trial.
Appeal ( Section 372 to 394) : After the pronouncement of verdict, the party aggrieved with the judgement has the opportunity to file a notice of appeal. Appeal can filed either on the behalf of accused or on the behalf of victim.
Application for Revision ( Section 397) : As empowered by Section 399 and Section 401 the Court of Sessions and High Court have the authority to call for and examine the records of any proceeding which took place in any subordinate court within its jurisdiction.
Execution of Sentence ( Section 413 to 424) : Based on the verdict pronounced by the court, whatever punished has been prescribed in the sentence to the accused if he has been found guilty of the offence. The sentence needs to be given its full and due effect
4.POST TRIAL RIGHTS OF CONVICTED PERSON INCLUDES:
4.1 Right to Lawful Punishment: Right to lawful Punishment is a constitutional as well as a statutory mandate that has to be followed and the convicted person can never be denied of this right under any circumstance.
Article 20(1) of the Constitution states that “No person shall be convicted of any offence except for violation of a law in force at the time of the commission of the act charged as an offence, nor be subjected to a penalty greater than that which might have been inflicted under the law in force at the time of the commission of the offence.”
This article of Constitution provides an explanation that a person can only be punished for the offence which is made punishable by the strict letter of law. It acknowledges constitutionally the principle that no individual can be convicted except for violating the law which is in force on the day.
Convicted person shall not be punished more severely than he otherwise would have been imposed in accordance with the law in effect at the time the offence was committed. This article provides that criminal law will not be given be given retrospective effect thereby causing prejudice to the convicted person.
As provided in Article 20 (2) “No person shall be prosecuted and punished for the same offence more than once.” This article is basically a rule against ‘double Jeopardy’.
Apart from constitution, according to the article 5 of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights “No one shall be subjected to torture or to cruel, inhuman or degrading treatment or punishment.”
4.2 Right to Humane treatment : First and the foremost thing to be realized in this context is the universal declaration of human rights, from which it can be inferred that conviction is of no consequence in determining his human rights, if a person is convicted in an offence he will not cease to be a human.
The convicted person has right to live a dignified life even when he is undergoing a sentence of improvement. It was held in Budhadev Karmaskar V. State of West Bengal (AIR 2011 SC 2636) that word life mentioned in Article 21 means a dignified life and not just an animal life.
The convicted person has a right to clean and sanitized environment, right to health care facilities which includes right to be medically examined by the medical officer, right to visit and access by family members.
The prison authorities should aim at reformation of the convicted person. The person should be treated in such a way so that he can have ample opportunities of introspection and psychic healing. It is an appreciable practice of Prison authorities in India where the prisoners need to undergo skill training modules so that their productivity and efficiency can be cherished which can be eventually utilised by the person later when he completes his sentences for his rehabilitation.
4.3 Right to file appeal : Under the following provisions of the Criminal Procedure Code the Convicted person can file appeal:
Section 374(1) : If the accused is convicted in a trial done by a High Court under its extraordinary original criminal jurisdiction than the convicted person has the option to file an appeal before the Hon’ble Supreme Court.
Section 374(2) : if the accused has been sentenced by the session judge or an additional session judge or any other court which is authorized by the statute to pass a sentence of 7 years or more than against the decision of such competent court the person has the right to file an appeal before the High Court.
Section 374(3): The person convicted in the trial conducted by the Metropolitan Magistrate or Assistant sessions Judge or Judicial Magistrate First Class or Judicial Magistrate Second Class or the person is sentenced under section 325 , the appeal may be made before Court of Sessions.
Section 379 : When on appeal the High Court has reversed an order of acquittal and convicted the accused to sentence of death or life imprisonment or imprisonment for term of ten years or more the convicted person may exercise his rights to appeal before the Hon’ble Supreme Court.
Granting bail to the person convicted for any offence irrespective of the fact whether the offence is bailable or non bailable cannot be construed as a matter of right rather it is discretion of court. It can be allowed only when after pronouncement of the judgment and upon hearing the accused it is considered justified by the court it can be granted.
4.4 Proper execution of sentence : Under Section 413 to 424 of the Criminal Procedure Code the provisions dealing with execution of sentence are embodied.
According to Article 6 (2) of International covenant on civil and political rights ‘In countries which have not abolished the death penalty, sentence of death may be imposed only for the most serious crimes in accordance with the law in force at the time of the commission of the crime and not contrary to the provisions of the present covenant and to the Convention on the Prevention and Punishment of the Crime of Genocide. This penalty can only be carried out pursuant to a final judgement rendered by a competent court.’
When the trial concludes with conviction of the accused, it is made mandatory by the law that he is to be given opportunity of hearing before passing of sentence. As laid down in the Section 235(2) ‘If the accused is convicted, the Judge shall, unless he proceeds in accordance with the provisions of section 360, hear the accused on the questions of sentence, and then pass sentence on him according to law hearing on sentence’. Non compliance with the provisions of section 235 (2),is not an irregularity but is an illegality in itself. During hearing on sentence the quantum of punishment is decided after hearing the convicted person.
In Bachan Singh vs State Of Punjab (AIR 1980 SC 898), it was held by the Hon’ble Supreme Court that ‘a real and abiding concern for the dignity of human life postulates resistance to taking a life through law’s instrumentality. That ought Lot to be done save in the rarest of rare cases when the alternative option is unquestionably foreclosed.’
“The only difference between the saint and the sinner is that every saint has a past and every sinner has a future”. – Oscar Wilde
In the system of criminal justice administration in India along with the rights of accused the rights of convicted person are also considered sacrosanct. The person convicted should neither be denied any of his post trial rights nor any remedy available to him should be made ineffective. Moreover the primary objective of punishment should be to bring necessary changes in the behaviour of person so that he can after completion of sentence get assimilated in the society and can contribute dearly to it. If the person is convicted and sentenced to punishment, the punishment should have curative impact on him rather than having a deterrent effect. Death sentence to the convicted person is only an acknowledgement of the fact that society collectively has failed to reform a deviant individual.
Pandey, J.N., The Constitutional law of India, Central Law Agency, 2022
K.N.Chandrsekharan Pillai (Rev.), R. V. Kelkar’s Criminal Procedure, (7th ed., 2021).
Bachan Singh vs State Of Punjab (AIR 1980 SC 898)
Budhadev Karmaskar V. State of West Bengal (AIR 2011 SC 2636)
Author: Manas Dixit,
CAMPUS LAW CENTRE, UNIVERSITY OF DELHI, 2nd Year