The Criminal Law (amendment) Act, 2005 has recognized the idea of plea bargaining in the Indian Criminal Justice System. Plea bargaining simplifies the formal legal procedure as well ensures speedier disposal of cases. But the picture has been rather hazy in the minds of laymen. Who is entitled to bargain plea? What are its pre-requisites? How is the procedure initiated? The answers to these questions are incorporated in the Code of Criminal Procedure, but the document is not easily understandable by someone who is not entirely comfortable with legalese. So here are the basics of plea-bargaining in the backdrop of judicial procedure:-
1. Plea-bargaining can be claimed only for offences that are penalized by imprisonment below seven years.
2. If the accused has been previously convicted of a similar offence by any court, then he/she will not to be entitled to plea-bargaining.
3. Plea-bargaining is not available for offences which might affect the socio-economic conditions of the country.
4. Also, plea-bargaining is not available for an offence committed against a woman or a child below fourteen years of age.
5. A charge-sheet must be filed with respect to the offence in question, or a magistrate must take cognizance on a complaint before plea-bargaining proceedings.
6. A case which does not suffer from aforesaid disqualifications, and is pending before the court, is entitled for plea-bargaining.
7. An affidavit sworn by the accused must be attached to the application, stating that the accused has voluntarily chosen to bargain plea, and he understands the nature and extent of the punishment.