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Why isn't plea-bargaining being practiced In India?

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While the demands for Taliban-type punishments grow louder, one point being missed is that tougher the punishment, lesser the chances of it being awarded and longer it will take to execute. Justice is delivered faster in the US due to provisions like plea-bargaining which avoid protracted trials. On the contrary, the so-called tougher punishments in India exist only on paper as it takes a painfully long time to reach their logical end. It's not the toughness of punishment but certainty of punishment which is more important. Certainty cannot be ensured unless it's delivered in a fast-track mode.

For the full text of the (personal) views of Mr Praveen Sood, IPS, ADGP (police computing wing), published in the ToI, click here.

While not a lawyer, but from a layman's point of view, I don't quite understand why our jurisprudence cannot provide for plea-bargaining, like in the US. While it may not quite be applicable in the case of heinous crimes (of the Delhi kind), I expect it will work very well for smaller crimes, and therewith de-clutter the courts to allow them to handle the more serious cases in a faster and more professional way.

Perhaps high time the Civil Society pursued this matter too jointly.

The point made by Mr Sood that "tougher the punishment, lesser the chances of it being awarded and longer it will take to execute" makes immense sense too. Very plainly the focus has to be on speedier delivery of justice.

Muralidhar Rao


murali772's picture

fast-tracking needed on all of these fronts

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Talking of fast-tracking of court procedures, quite as the eminent lawyer, Mr K T S Tulsi, observed during a TV debate, publishing the progress of cases on court web-sites will in itself lead to speeding up of trials, which is the urgent need of the day. Apart from this, is the matter of appointment of 'professional court managers' (check here for more), in order to allow the judges to concentrate on just the judicial matters, which will help the process of speeding up of the trials considerably too.

Simultaneously, providing a cleaner and enabling environment for the judges to function from, is also something that calls for immediate attention, and this can come about through outsourcing of the maintenance of court complexes to professional agencies, as compared to the present practice of entrusting the job to the PWD (check here for more).

And, as urgent as the need for fast-tracking of cases against 'crimes against women', is the urgency in the fast-tracking of all kinds of cases against elected representatives, they being the decision-makers.

Muralidhar Rao
vmenon's picture

are we on wrong track

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There is so much recently in traditional and social media on the 'punishment,death sentance ,castration , fast court"etc

Of these the only  one which resonatates with me is the  fast court argument.

But i do think  there is one big area which is again casually not discussed.and sood being no exception to this.

Our failure in is accountabilty of a public servant , whether he be a cop in  a rape case, or a beuracrat in a scam case. 

To that extent , violence against women and corruption in high or low  places are the result of essentailly the same defect on our systems.

Let sood show the number of cases, where a cop has been really punished by the system  for deriliction of duty , not a temporary suspension or transfer.

we have various cliques, in various avatars , desperately protecting their turf and power.

MaheshK's picture

Plea Bargain has its own Intricacies

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To have fast track courts, we need judges to head them. To appoint good judges with clean hands, government has to act. Trials need to be time bound rather than protracted. That calls for a change in the law. Again the government has to act. Tainted netas and babus will be in trouble. To avoid this, any govt will prolong the discussion and keep the status quo.

Whatever happens in US does not have to happen in India. Let's not ape the west for everything. In the US people have respect for the law, from common man to the president. In India it is a different story. Public memory is too shrot. Remember Gopal Kanda case in Haryana?

The trials in the US courts are time bound. In India it takes for ever, even the fast track courts take years. Plea bargain has its own process/intricacies . Mr. Sood must have read it thruough the net. In India, plea bargaining would be great for the tainted netas and babus. It would be like a slap on the wrist in our country if that process starts. Instead of 10 yrs rigorous prison, the accused would get 6 months of simple imprisonment or even pay some fine and get out. Also the plea bargain process could potentially start "plea bargain deal" similar to the "bail deal" we saw last year.

murali772's picture

Our laws allow it apparently

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RNK responded through a mail to me with the following:

Plea bargaining was introduced in India by Criminal Law (Amendment) Act, 2005, which amended the Code of Criminal Procedure and introduced a new chapter XXI(A) in the code, enforceable from January 11, 2006, which affects cases in which the maximum punishment is imprisonment for 7 years; however, offenses affecting the socio-economic condition of the country and offenses committed against a woman or a child below 14 are excluded.

So, our laws allow it apparently. But, I suppose not many are aware, and therefore it's not used widely yet. May be, the idea needs to be propagated in order to help de-clutter the courts.

@ MaheshK - Like I too had clearly stated, it cannot be applicable for heinous/ serious crimes. So, there was no need to get worked up over the suggestion.

Muralidhar Rao
MaheshK's picture

Good joke

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Murali Sir,

Me getting worked up? LOL. Good joke. I was just pointing out the reality. I dont sugar coat, will say as it is.

Glad to know that the law exists reg plea bargain. Does the lawyers know about it? If not how will they advice their clients? Or they dotn advice for obvious reasons. comment guidelines

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