In an excellent article (read it here) K.T. Thomas, a former Judge of the Supreme Court of India explains all about the concept of plea bargain.
With the amendment to the Code of Criminal Procedure (CrPC) by Act 2 of 2006, a new chapter 21(A) was added bringing about plea bargaining into Indian jurisprudence. Plea bargain means the process whereby accused and the prosecutor, in a criminal case, work out mutually satisfactory disposition of the case, subject to the approval of the court.
- Offences punishable with a sentence exceeding 7 years of imprisonment.
- Offences affecting socio-economic conditions of the country, which the Central Government would notify. GoI has actually notified about 19 statutes under this clause.
- Offences committed against women.
- Offences committed against children below the age of 14.
- Accused to file an affidavit in court, expressing his willingness to plead guilty.
- Court issues notice to all the parties.
- Then it gives time to all the parties to work out a mutually satisfactory disposition of the case.
- On their submission to the court that they have come to an understanding, the magistrate prepares a report which shall be signed by all the parties to the dispute.
- Judgment in the case follows imposing lighter sentences on the accused and providing compensation to the victims.
- Such a judgment cannot be appealed against.
- Protection to the accused. His pleas, which are his admissions of crime, cannot be used for another purpose.
- Helps courts manage their workload; reduction of backlog in cases.
- Relieves the magistrate of the burden of preparing a detailed judgment.
- Reduces the load for Public Prosecutors.
- Saves lot of time, energy and court expenses for the accused.
- Reduces the criminal justice system to a barter system.
- Possibility of innocent accused to capitulate to wrong compromises and wrong convictions in order to escape the ordeal of prolonged trial.
- Possibility for accused to develop a scornful attitude to the justice dispensing system.
- Can be construed as violation of Article 21 – deprivation of liberty except according to the procedure established by law.