Plea bargaining in India is a new concept for Indian legal system is contained in Section 265A to 265L, Chapter XXIA of the Criminal Procedure Code. It was introduced through the Criminal Law (Amendment) Act, 2005. This changed the face of Indian Criminal Judicial system.
Plea bargaining is the pre-trial negotiations between the accused and the prosecution during which the accused agrees to plead guilty in exchange for certain concessions by the prosecution. It is an agreement in which the defendant pleads guilty to a lesser charge and the prosecutors in return drops more serious charges. There are two types of plea bargain:
Charge bargain: When the prosecution allows a defendant to plead guilty to a lesser charge or to only some of the charges against him.
Sentence bargain: It occurs when an accused or defendant is told in advance what his sentence will be if he pleads guilty.
It is applicable to those offences for which punishment is up to a period of 7 years. It does not apply to cases where the offence committed is a socio-economic offence or where the offence is committed is committed against a woman or a child below the age of 14 years.
- It helps in fast disposal of cases.
- It makes a mutual understanding between the defendant and the prosecutor related to the case.
- Involvement of police in the bargaining invites coercion.
- The court’s impartiality is at stake.
- It may lead to corruption of one or other type.
There had been a huge hue and cry over this issue because mere acceptance of guilt should not be a criterion for minimising the punishment. But it was accepted because the very essence of this law was to provide easy, cheap and expeditious justice by resolution of the main dispute. With the changes in the fundamental structure of the society itself, such reforms become inevitable.
Overall, this system is nothing but just a cover up the inadequacies of the govt. in dealing properly with each case that comes before it. It is a disputed concept. Few jurists and advocates have been in its favour whereas a few have abandoned it. It surely helps in disposing of the caseload, but the manner is unconstitutional. Only time can tell if this concept can be justified or not!