All About the Termination of Criminal Proceedings

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All About the Termination of Criminal Proceedings
All About the Termination of Criminal Proceedings

The Criminal Procedure Code 1973, is a course of action that directs the court to conduct the criminal trials in a prescribed mode only. The main objective of this law is to ensure a fair trial and provide justice in the eyes of the law. The criminal procedure code 1973 takes a long period, which either results in absolution or conviction of the accused person. This procedure of law comes to an end only after happening of certain circumstances:

1] Parties withdrawing from their legal proceedings.

2] By way of conditional pardon.

3] Resulting in the death of the accused.

4] When the allegations against the accused have fully cleared.

This law is considered one of the main legislations on proceedings of law regarding crimes. The provisions of this law were enacted in 1973, and the provisions came into force on 1st April 1974. Thomas Babington Macaulay, a law member introduced the criminal procedure code in India, by The Indian penal code. Under this Criminal Procedure Code of 1973, every accused party is treated as innocent until proven guilty in the eyes of the law. All the trials shall be conducted fairly, and it has to be heard by an independent tribunal. It came into existence for the first time during the time rule of the British administration. Before the implementation of the Criminal Procedure Code 1973, there were many criminal codes for investigation in criminal matters. This law was recently amended in 2013, regarding the Nirbhaya Act, and in 2014 carried on the Lokpal and Lokayuktas Act. These laws have applied to the entire country, including Jammu and Kashmir, since the Recognition Act of 2019. Other than providing fair trials, this code also ensures quick delivery of justice and also provides fair deals to the low sections of the community. The criminal procedure code is subject to a concurrent list of constitutions, and states are also eligible to enact special laws. There are the following stakeholders and functionaries present in the general criminal justice administration. These are – the accused, witness, police, judge, state, advocate, victim, and members of the general public. If any victims or accused are not satisfied by the verdict of the court, then they can appeal in the next hierarchy courts. The Supreme Court is the highest hierarchy and the most powerful court in India. It provides detailed guidelines concerning the arrest of persons, conditions, and powers of the police to initiate any proceedings, compelling appearance, and trial procedure among others. The Criminal Procedure Code, 1973 is divided into 37 chapters, 484 sections, and two schedules under the constitution of India. There are types of offences which is recognized under this code. These offences are non-bailable, bailable, non-cognizable offences, and cognizable offences.

A] Cognizable offences are those offences, where a police officer can arrest the accused even without the issue of an arrest warrant.

B] Non-cognizable offences are those offences, where the police officer does not have the power of authority to arrest a person without issuing a warrant.

C] Bailable offences are the type of offences that are bailable under any existing law or it is specified under the first schedule.

D] Non-bailable offences are considered serious offences under which the accused is not eligible to take bail under any law. Only after the verdict of the court, the accused may be freed of the allegations charged. There are other fundamental ideas subject to this code. These are the First Information Reports (FIR) on which the whole inquiry of crime begins, the Officer in charge at the police station plays a crucial role during the inquiry. An oral or written complaint must be submitted and a Police report and investigation carried out are validated by a magistrate. The cases presented in the courts are classified as session cases, warrant cases, and summons cases. Session cases are conducted only to impose penalties on the cases, which include death and a life prison of more than seven years. A summon cases are the cases that specify an offence but is not included in a warranty case. Whereas, warrant cases are cases that involve the punishment of a death sentence or imprisonment for a period for than two years. An additional classified session case is summary trials, in which justice is provided within a short period, which leads to rapid settlements and reduced processes. But on the other hand, there are still various limitations subject to this criminal procedure code. There is widespread discussion and criticism made on restriction of internet access in some areas, overcrowding in jails, corruption, an impious relationship between the criminal syndicates, ignorance of the victim, and section 144 is still being doubted and questioned by the public.

Termination of Criminal Proceedings

Termination of criminal proceedings refers to the processes, where the plaintiff withdraws from the legal proceedings or withdraws the complaint. Although there is not a specific law regarding termination of legal proceedings, which would come to an end. Therefore, it is essential to introduce termination of proceedings from various schedules of law. Under section 257 of the Criminal Procedure Code, 1973 when any complainant withdraws the complaint, it will lead to termination of proceeding. Section 257 briefly discusses the withdrawal of proceedings from the side of the complainant. There is a conditional clause subject to this section, that is, the complainant at any time before the final verdict of the court, must satisfy the magistrate regarding the following thing. The complainant must have enough grounds for allowing him to withdraw his complaint against the accused. Once the magistrate is satisfied, then he might permit to withdraw the complaint.

1] Withdrawal From the Proceedings

This process takes place at the time of withdrawal of the complaint from the complainant. As a result, this will result in the termination of criminal proceedings by withdrawal.

2] Withdrawal of the Complaint From the Proceedings

As per the provisions of section 257, the complainant can withdraw his complaint anytime. But this step is subject matter to certain conditions, which have to be fulfilled as mentioned above. Once the plaintiff withdraws his complaint, then he is not eligible to enforce the accused on the same offence again. This provision is by section 300. The applicability of section 257 is only allowed to summon cases. Under section 257, any complaints that are triable as summon cases can be granted the provision to withdraw. The consent of the court is mandatory for the withdrawal of any complaint under section 257. The accused might not immediately be released from the offences that are charged against him, but after withdrawal, the court will take some time and pass an order of absolution. This will be an order to release the accused. As far as the withdrawal step is concerned, the consent of the accused is not required. In the case of Y.P Baiju vs State of Kerala [2007], the court determined that section 247 is only applicable for summoning cases. In India, summon cases are subject to proceedings of law that concern less consequential cases. Generally, in summon cases the accused appeared in front of the magistrate based on order by the court. It provides basic information regarding the allegations and laws which are broken by the individual. But as per the code, any cases that are instituted through a police report and any other specified cases that are included under section 320 do not grant application of section 257. In 1990, there was a case- Thathpadi Venkatalaxmi vs the State of Andhra Pradesh. In this case, the wife had reported a cruelty case against her husband to the police, and a chargesheet was filed against him. In due course of time, the wife changed her mind and wanted to withdraw the complaint against his husband under section 257. However, as per the provisions of the code, any complaint that is filled in the chargesheet does not apply to section 257. Therefore, the court did not allow the wife to withdraw the complaint.

3] Power To Stop Proceedings in Certain Cases

Under the provisions of section 258 of the criminal procedure code,1973 any first-class magistrate can stop proceedings of a summon case at any stage of proceedings, even before announcing the final verdict. But this can be only applicable when the first-class magistrate takes prior permission from the chief magistrate regarding the case. But before halting the proceedings, the magistrate must record proof of the principal witness. In the case of Suo motu vs State of Kerala [2019] also it was specified that, only in certain special circumstances section 258 is applicable.

4] Withdrawal From Prosecution

A public prosecutor refers to a representative of the prosecutor of the state, whose job is to provide justice to the administration of the state. Their main objective is to place all the relevant aspects of the case in the court and they are not considered a representative of any party. Section 321, gives the authority to the public prosecutor to withdraw from any prosecution respectively. Any decision of withdrawal shall not be taken alone by the public prosecutor. Public prosecutors have a great responsibility towards the general public. So, therefore before making any decisions regarding withdrawals, the decision has to be consulted by the respective states. There is a landmark case judgment, Sheonandhan Paswan vs State of Bihar [1986], it was cleared by the Honourable Supreme Court that, the public prosecutor must use their mind and shall not be bound by any opinions of the state. It was noticed by the Supreme Court, that the prosecutors are acting like agents to the state. The public prosecutor should be an independent judicial officer. After all this, the Supreme Court gave few directions to the public prosecutor. These are as follows:

1] The public prosecutor should always decide with a free mind regarding the continuation or withdrawal of the cases after taking advice from the state government.

2] The public prosecutor has to prove in the court, that his decision is based on his own free will and mindset.

3] But in the end it has to be properly understood, that public prosecutors are agents of to state as well as officers in the court. So, their work has to be carried by the advice of the government.

Acquittal of Accused

In simple understanding, any person is called acquitted only after when there is no evidence for him in the trial of proceedings. He is proven innocent, and all the allegations charged against him shall be cleared at the same time. But there is a big difference between the words acquittal and discharge. Acquittal is a guaranteed termination of proceedings. Whereas, on the other hand, discharge is not considered as a guaranteed termination of proceedings. The proceedings can be re-opened at any time. As per section 232 of the Criminal Procedure Code 1973, the judge after hearing all the prosecution and analyzing the evidence, that there is no evidence against the accused to prove him guilty. After this, the judge gives the order of acquittal and declares the accused as innocent. Under section 325, the judge after listening to both parties and recording all the evidence passes a judgment, either to convict the accused party or acquit the accused. These shall result in the termination of the legal proceedings. As per the applicable provisions of the criminal procedure code,1973 section 256, the magistrate can acquit the accused in the cases of summon cases where the complainant fails to come or the death of the complainant can result in the acquittal of the accused. In the case of Associated Cement Company vs Keshawnanda [1997], the Honourable Supreme Court dissolved the order of the magistrate, where he gave an order of acquitted in favour of the accused due to non-appearance. The reasons for dismission are as follows:

1] The complainant, Associated Cement Company is already verified and it is not a natural or juristic person as per the provisions of the Company Act,2013. The company can send any of its members to the proceedings.

2] The application of section 256 is not valid as per the subject of the case is concerned.

Inherent Powers of the High Court

Under section 482 of the criminal procedure code, 1973; an inherent power is provided to the high court to give its verdict to prevent any abuse of power and settlements between the offence parties.

Conditional Pardon

Under section 306 and section 307 of the Criminal Procedure Code, 1973: the courts have the jurisdiction to grant conditional pardon to the accused party. Once the conditional pardon is granted, it will result in the termination of legal proceedings against the accused.

Termination of Criminal Proceedings on the Death of the Accused

The main objective of the law is to provide justice, but after the death of the accused, the criminal proceedings against him shall be terminated. It will be only a waste of time and resources if the proceedings are carried on even after the death of the accused.


The implementation of the Criminal Procedure Code has resulted positively. These codes ensure all the matters concerning crimes are thoroughly and sophisticatedly investigated. It is a comprehensive law that is specially for the process and method applicable to the accused during arrest, bail, collection of evidence, proceedings, and finding out of guilt or innocence. It is an essential procedure for which the mechanism is established to preserve the rights of all individuals. The termination of legal proceedings can either be by termination of proceedings or an order of acquittal of the accused. The main agenda of the courts is to provide justice to all the citizens of India and ensure that their rights are not exploited.

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