I. What is “trial” in the context of a criminal case?
Any act or omission which is prohibited by law and is punishable by law is a crime. The punishment for such crime is decided by following procedures of criminal trial. The criminal trials in India are well established statutory, administrative and judicial framework. Criminal law involves 3 rule acts that are 1) the Indian Penal Code 2) Indian Evidence Act, 1872, and 3) Code of Criminal Procedure 1973. The Indian Penal Code is an important substantive law while the Indian Evidence Act and the Code of Criminal Procedure are procedural laws.

II. The CrPC which does not define the expression “trial”, however, defines the expression “judicial proceeding” under Section 2 (i) as follows: – “S.2(i) “Judicial proceeding” includes any proceeding in the course of which evidence is or may be legally taken on oath”.

Is not a Magistrate recording a “confession” or a “statement” under Section 164 CrPC, conducting a “judicial proceeding” as defined under Section 2 (i) CrPC?
An investigation which would not be a judicial proceeding if a Magistrate did not do something during its pendency does not become one simply because he does something, such as recording a statement under Section 164. Since an investigation is to be done solely by the police nothing that he does during its pendency becomes a part of it and can be said to have been done in the course of it. Consequently, even if a Magistrate can legally administer oath to a person before recording his statement under Section 164 the investigation does not become a judicial proceeding.

Thus, a Magistrate has no jurisdiction to administer oath to a person before recording his statement under Section 164. Even if he administers oath before doing so the investigation does not become a judicial proceeding because the statement is not legally taken on oath.

III. What is the inter-relationship between the expression’s “investigation”, “inquiry” and “trial”?
An investigation is the first step taken by the police officer. in any matter of offence and the culprit thereof. Inquiry includes everything done by a Magistrate, irrespective of whether the case has been challenged or not. A trial is a judicial proceeding that ends either with conviction or acquittal.

Investigation: Investigation includes all the proceedings under the Code required for the collection of evidence. It is conducted by a Police Officer or by any person other than a magistrate, who has been authorized by the magistrate on this behalf.

Inquiry: An inquiry is done either by a Magistrate or it is done by the Court but not by a police official. The inquiry relates to the proceedings that are carried out by the Magistrate before a trial is done. It is to essentially hold a preliminary enquiry to ascertain whether an offence has been committed. If the offence has been committed then, whether any person should be put upon trial.

Trial: A trial is a judicial proceeding that ends in either a conviction or acquittal but does not discharge anyone. It is examination and determination by a judicial tribunal over a cause which has jurisdiction over it.

IV. What is the object of “criminal law”?
Criminal law, which reflects the social ambitions and norms of the society, is designed to punish as well as to reform the criminals, but it hardly takes any notice of byproduct of crime- i.e., its victim. The poor victims of crime are entirely overlooked in misplaced sympathy for the criminal. The criminal law prohibits conduct that causes or threatens the public interest; defines and warns people of the acts that are subject to criminal punishment; distinguishes between serious and minor offenses; and imposes punishment to protect society and to satisfy the demands for retribution, rehabilitation, and deterrence.

V. How is the above object achieved through “criminal trial”?
The primary aim of any criminal justice system is to ensure that the citizens have the opportunity for a free and fair trial. It is well known that the pendency of cases is extremely high in India and the judiciary is overburdened. Trials take years to complete which is a continuous and tedious process. Therefore, it has been divided into three categories according to the gravity of the offences. It maintains a balance by providing justice and not overburdening the higher court with petty offences.

VI. When does “trial” start in “summary” and “summons” cases?
In summary trial, the cases are disposed of speedily as the procedure is simplified and the recording of such cases are done summarily. The first step is to file a FIR or a complaint. This is investigated upon by the police and evidence is collected. At the end of the investigation, a charge sheet is filed by the police. This is called the pre-trial stage.

Summons cases are not of serious nature, so it needs to be decided speedily, without dispensing the requisites of the fair trial. Under summons cases, it is not mandatory to frame charges but the section 251 does not dispense with the explanation of the particulars of the offence when accused is brought or appear before the Court. There might be a plea of guilty under Section 252 or 253. Only after this the trial might start where the magistrate will hear the accused and take all the evidence.

VII. Immediately after his appearance in a summons trial case, the accused filed an application requesting the Magistrate to drop the proceedings since ingredients of the alleged offence were absent in the substance of accusation proposed to be stated to him. Even though the Magistrate was convinced that the ingredients of the offence were absent, he dismissed the application filed by the accused by relying on the dictum in Adalat Prasad v. Rooplal Jindal AIR 2004 SC 4674. Will the accused be able to successfully challenge the order passed by the Magistrate?
No, he wouldn’t be able to successfully challenge the order since as laid down in Subramanian Sethuraman Ver. State of Maharastra & Another 2004 (13) SCC P. 324 observed that once the accused has been summoned the trial court has to record the plea of accused as per Sec. 251 Cr.P.C and the matter has to be taken up for trial and there is no provision which permits the Magistrate to drop the proceedings along the way.

VIII. When does trial start in a “warrant case” or a “sessions case”?
Warrant case includes offence punishable with the death penalty, imprisonment for life and imprisonment for exceeding two years. A trial in warrant case begins either by filing a FIR in Police Station or by filing it before Magistrate.

Session Court deals with criminal matter at a district level. To be more accurate these offences are of more serious nature, the session court does not have the power to take cognizance only under Section 199 of the CrPC it can take cognizance in all other cases the cognizance will be taken by Magistrate and commit the trial. The public prosecutor needs to present the piece of evidence so the trail can be started without any delay. All the details regarding what all charges are framed against him need to be mentioned in a court of law.

IX. Is cognizance of an offence taken before or after the commencement of trial?
The dictionary meaning of the word ‘cognizance’ is ‘judicial hearing of a matter’. The judicial officer will have to take cognizance of the offence before he could proceed with the conduct of the trial. Taking cognizance does not involve any kind of formal action but occurs as soon as a magistrate as such applies his mind to the suspected commission of an offence for the purpose of legal proceedings. So, taking cognizance is also said to be the application of judicial mind.

X. Why is it that the stage of commencement of trial relevant in criminal proceedings?
A trial is of a very crucial importance in a criminal case. Section 190 CrPC states those requirements that needs to be accomplished before proceedings can be started by the Magistrate, this statement basically means the power of the Magistrate to take knowledge of a case. Section 204 of CrPC basically provides Magistrate with the sole power of either to take the case into the consideration or to reject the case on some grounds. This section also determines the stage whether a case can enter the stage of trial or not.

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