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Report No. 41

17.6. Plea of guilty in absentia in petty cases.-

The Law Commission in its Fourteenth Report recommended1 that a provision similar to that contained in section 130 of the Motor Vehicles Act, 1939, enabling the accused to plead guilty without appearing in Court and to remit the pr.-determined fine should be made applicable to the trial of petty offences, particularly those under special and local laws. It pointed out that "there are a large number of petty offences mostly of a technical kind, in which the imposition of a fine as penalty would meet the ends of justice. In those cases, where there is every likelihood of the accused pleading guilty, the need for the examination by the courts of a large number of witnesses; often public servants, may be avoided if the above procedure is employed"

1. 14th Report, Vol 2.

17.7. Special procedure recommended.-

We consider that this procedure could be adopted with advantage in regard to any offence punishable only with fine not exceeding one thousand rupees. The prosecution may indicate in the police report or complaint whether the case is regarded as a fit one for applying this procedure: and if the Magistrate taking cognizance of the offence agrees he may indicate in the summons that if the accused desires to plead guilty to the charge without appearing in Court, he may transmit his plea and the stipulated fine, either by post or by messenger.

It should, however, be provided in the law that the amount of fine that might be specified in the summons should not exceed on.-hundred rupees. The new provision should not apply to any offence under any special or local law which, like the Motor Vehicles Act, 1939, contains a provision for convicting the accused in his absence on a plea of guilty and sentencing him to pay a fine.

17.8. New sections 205A and 241A.-

We accordingly recommend adding in Chapter XVII of the Code a new section as follows.-

"205A. Special summons in case of petty offence.- (1) If, in the opinion of a Magistrate taking cognizance of a petty offence, the case may be summarily disposed of under section 241A, the Magistrate may issue summons to the accused requiring him either to appear in person or by pleader before the Magistrate on a specified date, or if he desires to plead guilty to the charge without appearing before the Magistrate to transmit before the specified date, by post or by messenger, to the Magistrate, the said plea in writing and the amount of fine specified in the summons which shall not exceed on.-hundred rupees.

(2) For the purposes of this section, 'petty offence' means any offence punishable only with fine not exceeding one thousand rupees, but does not include any offence so punishable under the Motor Vehicles Act, 1939, or under any other law which provides for convicting the accused person in his absence on a plea of guilty."

In Chapter XX, which deals with the trial of summons cases by Magistrates, another new section should be inserted as follows.-

"241A. Conviction in absence of accused on plea of guilty.- (1) Where a summons has been issued under section 205A and the accused desires to plead guilty to the charge without appearing before the Magistrate, he shall transmit to the Magistrate by post or by messenger, a letter containing his plea and also the amount of fine specified in the summons.

(2) The Magistrate may thereupon convict the accused in his absence on his plea of guilty and sentence him to pay the fine specified in the summons, and the amount transmitted by the accused shall be adjusted towards that fine."

17.9. Supply of copy of police report and other documents to the accuse.-new section 205B.-

While considering section 173, we have recommended1 that the duty cast on the police by su.-section (4) of supplying to the accused copies of statements and documents mentioned therein should be transferred to the Magistrate taking cognizance. Apart from changes consequential on this altered arrangement, the only change of substance which is proposed is that where a document is voluminous, the Magistrate may allow the accused or his pleader to inspect it instead of causing a copy to be furnished. The new section providing for the supply of copies and for the matters connected therewith may be as follows.-

"205B. Supply of copy of police report and other documents to the accused.- In any case where the proceeding has been instituted on a police report, the Magistrate shall without delay furnish to the accused free of cost a copy of each of the following.-

(i) the police report;

(ii) the first information report recorded under section 154;

(iii) the statements recorded under su.-section (3) of section 161 of all persons whom the prosecution proposes to examine as its witnesses, excluding therefrom any part in regard to which a request for such exclusion has been made by the police officer under su.-section (4) of section 173;

(iv) the confessions and statements, if any, recorded under section 164; and

(v) any other document or relevant extract thereof forwarded to the Magistrate with the police report under su.-section (4) of section 173:

Provided that the Magistrate may, after perusing any such part of a statement as is referred to in item (iii) above and considering the reasons given by the police officer for the request, direct that a copy of that part of the statement or of such portion thereof as the Magistrate thinks proper, shall be furnished to the accused:

Provided further that if the Magistrate is satisfied that any document referred to in item (v) above is voluminous, he shall, instead of furnishing the accused with a copy thereof, direct that he will only be allowed to inspect it either personally or through pleader in Court."

17.10. Supply of copies of statements etc. in complaint case triable by Court of Session.-

Where the Magistrate issues process under section 204 on complaint and the offence is triable exclusively by the Court of Session, the Magistrate should grant to the accused copies of the statements of all persons examined by the Magistrate, and other material on which the prosecution relies in order that the accused may get adequate information about the charge against him and prepare for his defence. This is all the more necessary since commitment proceedings are to be abolished. The new section may be as follows.-

"205C. Supply of copies of statements and documents to the accused in complaint case triable by Court of Session.- Where in a case instituted on a complaint it appears to the Magistrate issuing process under section 204 that the offence is triable exclusively by the Court of Session, the Magistrate shall without delay furnish to the accused, free of cost, a copy of each of the following.-

(i) the statements recorded under section 200 or section 202 of all persons examined by the Magistrate;

(ii) the confessions and statements, if any, recorded under section 164; and

(iii) any documents produced before the Magistrate on which the prosecution proposes to rely:

Provided that if the Magistrate is satisfied that any such document is voluminous, he shall, instead of furnishing the accused with a copy thereof, direct that he will only be allowed to inspect it either personally or through pleader in Court."

17.11. Commitment of case to Court of Sessio.-new section 205D.-

Where the case (whether instituted on a police report or on complaint) relates to an offence triable by the Court of Session, the Magistrate has to send up the case to the Court of Session. Since an inquiry by the Magistrate is not contemplated in the scheme which we propose in regard to such offences, the provision in this respect can take a simple form and can be placed in this Chapter as forming part of the commencement of proceedings before magistrates. It will be convenient to refer to this process as "commitment of the case to the Court of Session", although the procedure is radically different from the commitment proceedings at present provided in Chapter 18. The new section may be as follows.-

"205D. Commitment of case to Court of Session when offence is triable exclusively by it.- When in a case instituted on a police report or on a complaint, the accused appears or is brought before the Magistrate and it appears to the Magistrate that the case is triable exclusively by the Court of Session, he shal.-

(a) commit the case to the Court of Session;

(b) if the accused is in custody, forward him to that Court, and, if he is not in custody, take bail from him for appearance before that Court;

(c) send to that Court the record of the case and the documents and articles, if any, which are to be produced in evidence; and

(d) notify the Public Prosecutor of the commitment of the case to the Court of Session."



Code of Criminal Procedure, 1898 Back




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