This article has been written by Jatin Rana (pursuing a B.A.LL.B. (Hons.) (IVth Year) from Law College Dehradun faculty of Uttaranchal University)
The object of the Code of Criminal Procedure Code (hereinafter referred to as Code) is to consolidate and amend the law relating to the Criminal Procedure. Before the Code, Mohammedan law was administered to deliver Justice and also the substantive law was the main focus instead of the procedural law under the East India Company. Also, there was no common Criminal procedural law as the provinces and presidencies were regulated under different Procedural laws. In the year 1882, the common Procedural code was enacted for the whole of India by the name of ‘Criminal Procedure Code, 1882. Later this code was replaced by the Procedure Code of 1898 which remained for around 75 years and later replaced by the Code, of 1973 which is still in force.
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Classes of Courts
Under the Code, there are 6 classes of courts determined in the State. Section 6 of the Code states that there shall be 6 classes of the courts in State which are as follows:
There shall be a High Court in each State and according to Article 216 of the Constitution, there shall be Chief Justice and such other Judges as the President may appoint from time to time.
- Courts constituted under any other law which means law other than this Code
Courts of Session
According to Section 9 of the Code, the session court shall be presided by the Judge appointed by the High Court and may also appoint Additional Session Judge and Assistant Session Judge.
Judicial Magistrate of the first class or the Metropolitan Magistrate in case of metropolitan area
Section 11 of the Code states that there shall be a court of Magistrate of the first class in every district and at such place as the State Government may specify after consultation with the High Court or Court of Metropolitan Magistrate in case of metropolitan area as given under Section 16 of the Code.
Judicial Magistrate of the Second Class
Section 11 of the Code also states that there shall be a Court of Judicial Magistrates of Second class in every district and at such place as the State Government may specify after consultation with the High Court.
In Section 20 of the Code, it is stated that the State Government may appoint such numbers of Executive Magistrates as it thinks fit and shall appoint on District Magistrate in every District.
The use of the word ‘shall’ in the given Section of the Code makes it mandatory for the State Government to establish the above-mentioned courts in the State either with the consultation of the High Court or not, as specified in the Code in case of the (3) to (6) Courts as mentioned above.
Powers of the Court
Chapter III of the Code covers the power of the Courts which is measured on the scale of years of sentence, penalties and fine to be imposed on the person guilty of any criminal offence.
According to Section 28 of the Code, the High Court can pass any sentence specified under the law. Also, the same Section states that the Session Judges which includes Sessions Judge and Additional Sessions Judge, may pass any sentence under the law except the death penalty and life imprisonment. In order to pass the death penalty and life imprisonment, Session Judges have to get confirmation from the High Court.
Section 29 of the Code covers the sentencing powers of the Magistrates. According to the mentioned Section, the court of the Chief Judicial Magistrate may pass the sentence of not more than seven years and cannot pass the death penalty and life imprisonment.
The Judicial Magistrate of the first class also cannot pass a sentence of life imprisonment but can pass a sentence of not more than three years or a of fine not more than ten thousand rupees. The Judicial Magistrate of the second class also cannot pass a sentence of life imprisonment but can only pass a sentence of not more than one year or a fine of not more than five thousand rupees.
The Chief Metropolitan Magistrate shall have powers of the Chief Judicial Magistrate which means that he may also pass the sentence of not more than seven years and cannot pass the death penalty and life imprisonment. The Metropolitan Magistrate shall have the powers of the Judicial Magistrate of the first class.
In default of the fine, the Magistrate may pass the sentence of imprisonment but the sentence should not be in excess of the sentencing powers mentioned under Section 29 of the code. Also, the punishment under Section 30 may be in addition to the Substantive sentence which the Magistrate may pass under Section 29 for any offence committed by the offender.
Also, Section 31 of the Code deals with the cases of conviction for several offences. The said Section states that the court may pass different sentences in a single trial for different offences committed by the same person subject to section 71 of the Indian Penal Code. The sentences shall run consecutively unless the court clarifies that the sentences shall run concurrently. But here it should also be noticed that no court shall send the offender for trial before the higher Court only for the reason the aggregate of the several punishments is excessing the punishment which it is competent to inflict on conviction of the single offence.
But the conditions are that no person shall be punished for more than fourteen years and the total aggregate of the punishments of the total offences shall not exceed twice the amount of the punishment which the court is competent to inflict for the single offence.
The Code of Criminal Procedure has separated the powers of the different courts supports the subordination clauses given under the Code and creates the hierarchy status among the courts. The Code is the procedural law and runs parallelly with the substantive law. The substantive law defines the offences and their punishments but the procedural laws elaborate the procedure of the criminal trials and also determine the courts in which any of the particular offences shall be dealt. The discussed powers of the different classes of the courts are an important aspect of the Code because these are the main organs of the Criminal Trials under the Code.