Journey From Offence to Justice: Fundamental of Criminal Law In India

Let's see how a criminal trial proceeds in India.

Table To Screen

Apr 17, 2020|6 min read


As soon as an offence is committed , a whole machinery of criminal justice system starts to operate . The first step in this chain of process is Registration of FIR. 

(1) Registration of FIR u/s 154

FIR is an Information relating to commission of a cognizable offence which is given to officer in charge of police station. Such information maybe given orally or in writing. If it is given in writing, it is the duty of OIC of police station to reduce it into writing. After it is reduced into writing, it shall be signed by the informant.

Fir, Justice, Criminal Law, Court, Proceedings

(a) Evidentiary value of FIR 

An FIR is not substantive piece of evidence. This means that conviction cannot be solely based upon FIR. However, it can be used to corroborate or contradict the evidence of informant. 

(b) Effect of delay in FIR 

FIR shall be lodged as promptly as possible after commission of the offence. If there is any delay in lodging the FIR, such delay shall be duly and reasonably explained. If no explanation is given in reference of delay, it maybe fatal to prosecution case . 

(c) As soon as FIR is registered, investigation starts


(2) Investigation 

Investigation means all the process and proceedings which are undertaken for the purpose of collection of evidences.


Fir, Justice, Criminal Law, Court, Proceedings

(a) Who can conduct Investigation?

The primary duty to conduct investigation is upon the police agency , however if authorized by magistrate , any other person or institution can also conduct investigation. However the magistrate himself can't investigate into an offence

(b) Steps of Investigation

i) Registration of FIR  

ii) Forwarding report to magistrate u/s 157 and u/s 174 (if needed) 

(c) Purpose of forwarding the report u/s 157 –

To give information to magistrate so he can see over the investigation; 

To prevent Anti timing of FIR Proceeding to spot for collection of evidence and arrest if necessary;

Recording of statement by police u/s 161 Cr.P.C;

Recording of confessions and statement u/s 164 Cr.P.C;

Residuary steps ( all legal actions for purpose of effective investigation ) 

Completion of Investigation and forwarding police report to magistrate u/s 173(2) Cr.P.C.

(3) Cognizance 

Fir, Justice, Criminal Law, Court, Proceedings

Any Magistrate of the first class and a magistrate of the second class if authorized class may take cognizance of any offense. Section 190-199 of the code describes the methods by which, and the limitations subject to which, various criminal courts are entitled to take cognizance of offenses. 

Section 190(1) Cr.P.C provides that, any magistrate of the first class and any magistrate of the second class specially empowered in this behalf, may take cognizance of any offenses- 

(a) Upon receiving a complaint of facts which constitute such an offense. 

(b) Upon a police report of such facts. 

(c) Upon information received from any person other than a police officer, or upon his own knowledge, that such an offense has been committed. 


What magistrate can do if police report is filed before him? 


(i) In case of Charge sheet – 


Take cognizance u/s 19(1)(b)Cr.P.C and proceed further 

Refuse to take cognizance 

Order further investigation u/s 173(8) Cr.P.C

(ii) In case of Final Report – 

Accept the final report and close the matter after issuing notice and hearing the informant / complainant 

Order further investigation 

Take cognizance over final report u/s 190(1)(b) Cr.P.C

Take cognizance over protest petition u/s 190(1)(a) Cr.P.C

(4) Cognizance by magistrate 

If magistrate has taken cognizance, he can proceed to issue process against the accused u/s 204 CrPC. 

When the accused appears or is brought before the court, the magistrate will make sure that provisions of sec 207 or 208 ( as the case may be ) are complied with. 

After that , magistrate will commit the case for trial u/s 209 or proceed with trial as the case maybe.

(5) Trial before court of session 

Fir, Justice, Criminal Law, Court, Proceedings

Sec 225 – It provides that a trial before court of session shall be conducted by the Public Prosecutor.

Sec 226 – It provides for opening of prosecution case .

How the case is opened? 

The prosecutor opens the case by explaining to the accused and court that what are the charges against the accused and by what evidences prosecution intends to prove the guilt of the accused.

Sec 227 – Sec 227 provides that after opening of prosecution case , if the court after considering the record and hearing the accused and prosecutor believes that there is no sufficient ground to proceed further against the accused , the court may discharge the accused at this stage itself. However it has to be kept in mind that discharge is made without taking the evidences of prosecution u/s 231 , thus in some later time if any cogent evidence comes into light which shows the complicity of the accused in the present crime , accused maybe summoned again by the court for facing trial .

Sec 228 – If the accused has not been discharged u/s 227, The court proceeds to framing of charges against the accused. After the charges have been framed , the court shall read over and explain the charges to the accused. After the accused has understood the charges, the court shall ask the accused that whether he pleads guilty for the offences charged ?

Sec 229 – The case will go to this stage only when accused pleads guilty. When the accused pleads guilty, the court shall record such plea. However the court is not bound to convict the accused. Whether to convict the accused or not rests upon the discretion of court according to facts and circumstances of the case.

Sec. 230 – If the accused refuses to plead guilty , does not plead guilty or claims to be tried or is not convicted u/s 229 , the court shall fix the date on which it will take the prosecution evidences. The court may also , on the application of prosecution , issue the process to bring any witness , document of thing before the court .

Sec 231 – On the date so fixed , the court shall proceed to take prosecution evidences. This section applies to all the evidences, whether it is oral, documentary, electronic, physical evidence etc.

Sec 232 – If after taking the prosecution evidences , the court is of opinion that there is no evidence to prove guilt of the accused beyond reasonable doubt , the court shall acquit the accused.

Sec 313 – If the accused is not acquitted u/s 232, the court shall examine the accused . 

How examination of accused is conducted ? 

After taking of prosecution evidences ,the court shall put all the evidences and circumstances to the accused and ask for his explanation on each of those circumstances and evidences . The examination shall not be conducted generally on case, but specifically on each and every evidence and circumstance of the case .

Sec. 233- After examining the accused, the court shall enter upon defence the accused . However the accused is not bound to give any defence evidence unless he asserts something affirmatively. This is because the burden of proof lies upon the prosecution and the guilt of the accused shall be established beyond reasonable doubt irrespective of any weakness in defence of the accused.

Sec 234 - After the evidences have been completed , the prosecution shall sum up his case and the defence shall be entitled to reply any point raised by the prosecution.

Sec 235- After hearing arguments , the Judge shall give a judgment in the case. If the accused is convicted, the Judge shall, unless he proceeds in accordance with the provisions of section 360, hear the accused on the question of sentence, and then pass sentence on him according to law.

This Article Is Contributed By: Avinash Srivastava

Organised By: Vaibhav Srivastava, Harsh Vardhan Singh & Team

Event: Legal Webinar

Organization : Table  To Screen


Table To Screen

Table to Screen' is an online education organization 'By' the students, 'To' the students, that provides advanced and practical legal courses, webinars & guest lectures. We bridge the gap between theory and practice in legal education. Currently, TTS is educating in fields of law, event management, hotel management, Acting & Stagecraft.



Read More