Report No. 142
Conclusions and Recommendations
The Commission is of the considered opinion that a scheme, to be known as "scheme for granting prayer for concessional treatment made by accused pleading guilty voluntarily" requires to be introduced in the criminal justice system in India by way of enacting a legislation according statutory recognition and authority to the scheme.
The need for introducing the scheme has become compulsive in a situation where the trial of a criminal case culminating in an acquittal can take as many as 33 years in a relatively petty case (involving alleged misappropriation of Rs. 12,000, Rs. 4,000 and Rs. 2,000) and result in an expenditure of as much as a crore of rupees to the State exchequer1, with no corresponding benefit to the community. And in a situation, as reported on 16-8-1989 in Indian Express, where the courts in a city like Bombay in 1988 recorded 124 rape cases but could dispose of only one and in first six months in 1989 recorded 67 cases but could dispose of not a single case.
1. See The Hindu, dated 20-12-90, New Delhi Edition.
There is more than ample justification for introducing the scheme in as much as:-
(1) It is not just and fair that an accused who feels contrite and wants to make amends or an accused who is honest and candid enough to plead guilty in the hope that the community will enable him to pay the penalty for the crime with a degree of compassion and consideration should be treated on par with an accused who claims to be tried at considerable time-cost and money-cost to the community.
(2) It is desirable to infuse life in the reformative provisions embodied in section 360 of the Criminal Procedure Code and in the Probation of Offenders Act which remain practically unutilized as of now.
(3) It will help the accused who have to remain as under-trial prisoners awaiting the trial as also other accused on whom the sword of domiciles of an impending trial remains hanging for years to obtain speedy trial with attendant benefits such as-
(a) end of uncertainty,
(b) saving in litigation-cost,
(c) saving in anxiety-cost,
(d) being able to know his or her fate and to start a fresh life without fear of having to undergo a possible prison sentence at a future date disrupting his life or career,
(e) saving avoidable visits to lawyer's office and to court on every date of adjournment.
(4) It will, without detriment to public interest, reduce the back-breaking burden of the court cases which have already assumed menacing proportions.
(5) It will reduce congestion in jails.
(6) In the U.S.A. nearly 75 % of the total convictions are secured as a result of plea-bargaining.
(7) Under the present system 75% to 90% of the criminal cases if not more, result in acquittals.