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Powers of Criminal Court under the Code of Criminal Procedure, 1973

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Powers of Criminal Court

Powers of Criminal Court under the Code of Criminal Procedure, 1973

TRIAL OF OFFENCES (S.26 – 27)

SEC. 26 – COURTS BY WHICH OFFENCES ARE TRIABLE 

Two categories of Offences

  1. Offences mentioned under IPC; and 
  2. Offences under other laws.

Courts Competent to try offences

  1. High Court; or
  2. Sessions Court; or
  3. Other Court shown in the First Schedule of the Code.

Power of High Court to try Offences

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  • The High Court is only empowered to try offences when no Court is mentioned for any offence under any other law than IPC to try offences.
  • Harish Chandra v. Kavindra Narain – This section does not intend that the High Court shall take cognizance of the offence straight off and try the accused without following the procedure laid down in the Court.

Power of Sessions Judge to try Offences

  • A Session Judge has the power to try offences mentioned under the Indian Penal Code.
  • Cross cases shall be heard by the same court in order to avoid conflicting judgments.

SEC. 27 – JURISDICTION IN CASE OF JUVENILES 

Conditions

In order to be tried as a Juvenile the following conditions shall be fulfilled:

  1. Offence is punishable with punishment less than imprisonment for life; and
  2. The accused is under the age of 16 years; or

Trial of Offence

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In case the above-mentioned conditions are met, the either of the following Court may have the jurisdiction to try the offence:

  1. Chief Judicial Magistrate; or 
  2. Any other Court special empowered under:
  1. Children Act, 1960 or 
  2. Any other special law for the time being in force.

Power to establish Juvenile Courts 

  • S.27 does not take away the power of the State Legislature to establish any other special court for Juveniles.
  • It also does not take away the power of Juvenile Court established to try juvenile offenders even for an offence punishable with death or imprisonment for life.

Robin Bopari v. State

Joint trial of a juvenile with an adult accused is illegal.

POWER TO PASS SENTENCES (S.28 – 31)

SEC. 28 – SENTENCES WHICH CAN BE PASSED BY HIGH COURT AND SESSIONS JUDGE.

SEC. 29 – SENTENCES WHICH CAN BE PASSED BY MAGISTRATES.

*The following table shows the sentencing powers of the Court as provided under the Code-

COURTMAXIMUM SENTENCE
High Court A High Court may pass any sentence authorized by law.
Sessions Judge or Additional Sessions JudgeAny sentence authorized by law.A Sentence of Death passed by such Court shall be subject to confirmation by the High Court.
Assistant Sessions JudgeIt can only pass any sentence for imprisonment for a term not exceeding 10 years.
Chief Judicial MagistrateIt can only pass any sentence for imprisonment for a term not exceeding 7 years.
Judicial Magistrate Ist Class It can only pass any sentence for imprisonment for a term not exceeding 3 years or fine not exceeding 10,000/-
Judicial Magistrate 2nd Class It can only pass any sentence for imprisonment for a term not exceeding 1 years or fine not exceeding 5,000/-
Chief Metropolitan MagistrateChief Metropolitan Magistrate shall have sentencing powers of a Chief Judicial Magistrate.
Metropolitan Magistrate Metropolitan Magistrate shall have sentencing powers of Judicial Magistrate of 1st Class.

Principles/Factors as to Punishment 

The following factors shall help in determining the quantum of sentence for the accused:

  • Nature of offence;
  • Circumstances of commission;
  • Age and character of the accused;
  • Injury to the victim;
  • Scope for reformation; etc.

State of Kerala v. Unni

It was held that area of remission, commutation etc., are not within the purview of Sessions Court and only Constitutional Court can exercise such powers of imposing harsher variety of life sentence.

SEC. 30 – SENTENCE OF IMPRISONMENT IN DEFAULT OF FINE.

Scope & Ambit

  • Where a fine is imposed on an accused, and it is not paid the law provides that he can be imprisoned for a further term.
  • Such sentence of imprisonment can be ordered in addition to the substantive imprisonment awarded.
  • The provisions contained under section 30 are only applicable to a Magistrate.

Jurisdiction of Court 

  • The Court of a Magistrate has the jurisdiction to award a sentence of imprisonment in default of payment of fine.

Conditions 

The Court of a Magistrate shall observe the following conditions while passing a sentence for imprisonment in default of fine:

  1. It shall not exceed the powers of a Magistrate mentioned u/s. 29.
  2. It shall not exceed one fourth of the term of imprisonment awarded for the substantive offence.

Nature of Imprisonment 

  • Where imprisonment is awarded in default of fine it can only be simple imprisonment
FINEIMPRISONMENT
Rs. 50 & belowTwo months
Rs. 51 to Rs. 100Four months
Rs. 101 and aboveSix months

SEC. 31 – SENTENCE IN CASES OF CONVICTION OF SEVERAL OFFENCE AT ONE TRIAL 

Scope & Application 

  • Quantum of punishment that the Court has jurisdiction to pass where the accused is convicted of two or more offences at one trial.
  • The section applies only when more than one offence is tried at the same trial.

Consecutive Sentence 

  • The sentences so passed, shall commence the one after the expiration of the other.
  • Thus, in such cases one sentence ordinarily operates at the expiration of another.
  • In case the Court does not direct the sentence to run concurrently, the sentences shall be assumed to run consecutively i.e., one after the other.

When aggregate punishment exceeds the sentencing power of the Court in case of Consecutive sentence

  • If an aggregate of punishment for several offences is found to be in excess of punishment which the Court is competent to inflict on a conviction of single offence, it shall not be necessary for the Court to send the offender for a trial before a higher court.
  • Conditions 
  1. The aggregate punishment shall not exceed twice the amount of punishment which the Court is competent to inflict for a single offence; and
  2. In no case such person shall be sentenced to imprisonment for period more than 14 years.

Concurrent Sentence 

  • In case of concurrent sentence all the sentences so awarded shall run all together.
  • The lesser sentence will be merged in the greater sentence.

O.M. Cherian v. State of Kerala

It is left to the full discretion of the Court to order the sentence to run concurrently in case of conviction for two or more offence. 

CONFERRING & WITHDRAWING POWERS (S.32 – 35)

SEC. 32 – MODE OF CONFERRING POWERS 

  • The High Court or the State Government;
  • May empower a person by:
  1. Name; or
  2. Virtue of his office; or
  3. Class of officials generally.
  • Such order shall take effect from the date it is communicated to the person so empowered.

SEC. 33 – POWERS OF OFFICERS APPOINTED

  • This section refers to the transfer of a Magistrate from one district or area to another in the same State.
  • It points to the investing of powers as personal.
  • When a Magistrate is transferred from one district to another, he ceases to have jurisdiction in his district as soon as he relinquishes the charge.

SEC. 34 – WITHDRAWAL OF POWERS 

  • The High Court or the State Government is empowered to withdraw any power conferred on any person or officer subordinate to him.
  • Any power conferred by the CJM or the DM shall be withdrawn by the respective Magistrate.

SEC. 35 – POWERS OF JUDGES & MAGISTRATES EXERCISABLE BY THEIR SUCCESSORS – IN – OFFICE.

  • Powers and duties of judges and magistrates may be performed by their successor in office.
  • Procedure in case of doubt as to who is the successor in office:
OFFICEDECIDING AUTHORITY
Additional or Assistant Sessions Judge.Sessions Judge. 
Magistrate Chief Judicial Magistrate 

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