Image Source-

This article is written by Nimish Mundra, from Nirma University.


The famous Greek philosopher Heraclitus gave a very popular and widely accepted quote, ‘The only thing that is constant is change.’[i] This famous saying as we all know stands absolutely true in every sense. So, when we talk about change in a nation, we talk about the demographic changes, economic changes, political changes, social changes and the one very important change which constitutes a very important part of a nation that is legal change in a nation. We all have seen the entire legal system advancing with a great pace across the globe. A legal system of a nation basically sets the rules as well as regulations for its citizens and punishments for those who violate the prescribed rules and laws.

India, a nation where the most important[ii] and the noticeable thing which one can easily see is the diversity of the nation, so when we have to discuss about the legal changes of the nation, we cannot forget the huge diversity which prevails in India. The Indian nation has observed many important legal cases like the Nirbhaya case, Taj attacks of 26/11 and the list goes on. India has seen a very drastic change in its legal system over a very short period of time and with its pace increasing with the time, many more advancements and new policies, regulations, etc. would be added to the legal atmosphere of the Indian subcontinent.

Download Now

History of Trial in India

The very first case took place in 1665 which was that of a British woman namely Ascentia Dawes who was charged for murder of her salve girl. So, the journey began from the case of a British woman and the jury trials were put to an end by the very famous case of KM Nanavati v. State of Maharashtra[iii] (though the Nanavati case was not the last case to end the practice of jury trials but was the most famous case which led to the closure of the process of jury trial).

With the evolution of the East India Company into the Indian subcontinent, the system of jury trial was established into two parts, first was inside the presidency towns of Bombay, Calcutta and Madras and the other one was the areas outside the presidency towns. In the year 1860, the Government of India adopted the Indian Penal Code which constituted the mandatory criminal jury only in the High Courts of the presidencies.[iv]

Since then, the journey of a complete revolution in the legal system of the nation started which has not only shown excellent results but also the development of the judiciary system in India.


To further proceed with the various concepts associated with Trial in the criminal system in India, we must learn with the very basic concept of trial. The term ‘trial’ basically means the Court’s decision or a judicial judgement by the Court so as to decide the person’s guilt or innocence. A trial is of a very crucial importance in a criminal case. Section 190 CrPC[v] states those requirements that needs to be accomplished before proceedings can be started by the Magistrate, this statement basically means the power of the Magistrate to take knowledge of a case. Section 204[vi] of CrPC basically provides Magistrate with the sole power of either to take the case into the consideration or to reject the case on some grounds. This section also determines the stage whether a case can enter the stage of trial or not. 

Types of Trial

Mainly, there are four types of trial:

  • Warrant Case- A warrant case associates itself to the case where the crimes punishable with death, imprisonment for life or imprisonment for a term exceeding two years are considered. Trial of warrant cases are further classified into two more types namely:
    • Cases instituted by a police report- A police report is basically a report which Magistrate receives from a police officer under Sec. 173. The police should send their report as soon as they complete the investigation and the accused appears in front of a Magistrate before starting the trial.
    • Cases established other than a police report- Here, no kind police report or investigation is required. The Magistrate directly receives a complaint which is filed before him.

The sections from 225-237 of the Criminal Procedure Code basically deals with the warrant cases by a Court of Session.

In the case of Narotamdas L. Shah v. Pathak Nathalal Sukhram And Anr., the accused was held liable for defamation to which the witnesses were cross examined and the Magistrate was of the view that the case should be transferred while the accused demanded a re-hearing of the witnesses to which the Magistrate said that the accused can only have this right when the case is in trial and the case here was at the stage of enquiry only. The judge of the Sessions Court was of the view that setting aside of the demand made by the accused was wrong. The Gujarat High Court in this case held that trial in warrant cases starts when the accused has been presented before the Magistrate and thus quashing the order of the Magistrate. 

  • Sessions case- These are the cases where the offences subjected to punishment by law is death, life imprisonment for a term more than seven years, in such cases trial has to be dealt in a Sessions court after the case has already been forwarded by a Magistrate to the Court or after the commission of the crime.

Sections as mentioned in the CrPC starting from 238-250 handles the warrant cases by Magistrates.

As decided in case of the Inspector of Police vs R. Jeeva Jothi And Ors., the Magistrate showed some irregularities while conducting an enquiry of a case after a final report was submitted by the inspector of police to him. As mentioned in the CrPC, that when a Magistrate accepts a police report u/s 190(b), the Magistrate should take cognizance of that particular offence also. Under section 209, a Magistrate when has noted that the case can be exercised only in the Court of Sessions, it is compulsory for him that the case should be passed on to the correct authorities who have proper jurisdiction over the case after considering the procedure and formalities as mentioned under section 207 and 208. In the present case, the Magistrate considered all the materials and documents related to the case and discharged the accused for the offences mentioned under section 307 and 450 of IPC, which a Magistrate is not allowed to do so and carries no power for the same. And after the deletion, the Magistrate took the case into his file and started a trial which is clearly prohibited under the law. 

The Madras High Court in this case questioned the competency of the Magistrate and also stated that the decisions taken and the procedure adopted by the Magistrate were unlawful and wrong in nature and held that without further delaying the case, it should be sent to the Court of Sessions with immediate effect.

  • Summons cases- These are the cases where those crimes where the punishment for the offence is less than two years falls under the category of the summons cases, further in these cases there is no requirement of framing the charges. The Court upon finding these cases issues a ‘notice’ as a material for the accusation and then sends it to the accused. If there is any kind of possibility that the charges in summons cases are such that they might be converted into warrant case in the eyes of the Magistrate for serving the justice.

In the case of Gulabjeet Singh & Ors vs Ravel Singh, the issue was that whether Section 258 can apply to the proceedings started under Section 138 of the Negotiable Instruments Act[vii]? Section 258 simply states the proceedings can only be stopped when the cases are filed other than a complaint, but when the prosecution has already established by the State, then this section would not be applicable and further elaborated that in such cases where a private party has filed a complaint then Sec. 258 wouldn’t be applicable. The petition was dismissed by the High Court of Himachal Pradesh.  

  • Summary cases- Basically, summary trials are those kinds of trials where speedy justice has to be given which means those cases which are to be disposed of speedily and the process of these cases is quite simplified. One thing which is important to not here is that only small offences are taken as a part of the summary cases, cases which are complicated in nature and are quite big are reserved for summons or warrant trials. With this type of trials, one can easily point out the concept of ‘justice delayed is justice denied’. A very important procedural part associated to these kinds of trials are that in summary trials only proceedings are recorded and as such no big part of proceedings are made. In summary trials the components related to evidences and the disposition are simply recorded in a brief manner while in regular trials, the evidences and all the substances related to the cases are carefully considered.[viii]
               Click Above

Procedure where accused in warrant cases are to be produced before the Magistrate

In warrant cases triable by the Magistrates, if the Magistrate does not find any ground to hold the accused as liable, then the Magistrate can discharge the accused but he has to provide reasons for the same. But when the Magistrate finds some reasons to believe that there are some points related to the case with which he can proceed further with the case, the Magistrate then further proceeds under section 240 CrPC with the case by framing the charges against the accused and under section 240(2) the charges which are put against the accused shall be read to the accused and then he should be asked whether he claims to be tried for the offence of pleads guilty for the same, and if the accused claims to be tried then he shall be called upon to produce witnesses if there are any.

Procedure of Court of Session

A Court of Session cannot directly take cognizance of the offence which is triable under their jurisdiction. The procedure for a trial before Court of Sessions is divided into many parts:

  1. Section 225: The very first step of the process is to conduct a trial by a Public Prosecutor.
  2. After the first step, under section 226 the prosecutor opens his/her case by presenting their opening statements and also explains the charges of the offence against the accused.
  3. After listening to the statements made by the accused as well as the prosecution and after taking a note of the documents and records related to the case, if the judge thinks that the whole components were not enough to proceed against the accused, the judge under section 227 discharges the accused.
  4. If the judge thinks that the documents, records and the statements of both the parties were adequate enough to lay down the grounds for further proceedings against the accused, the judge frames a charge under section 228. Now, here two concepts come into the picture that is the jurisdiction of the Court, if the case is not triable by the Court of Session, then the judge might transfer the case to the higher authority i.e. the Chief Judicial Magistrate or any other Magistrate of the first class, and if the Court has the jurisdiction over the case, then the judge shall proceed by framing the charges against the accused.
  5. If the accused has pleaded guilty for the offence committed by him, then the judge shall record and on his own judgement may convict the accused.
  6. The judge fixes a date if the accused has refused to plea for the examination of the witnesses associated with the case.
  7. After the date has been fixed, on that date the prosecution can be asked by the judge for the evidences which require their in-support. At this step, the cross-examination of the witnesses can also take place depending upon the judge’s discretion. This whole step is mentioned in the Section 231.
  8. Section 232 of the code talks about the acquittal of the accused, if the examination of the accused, statements made by the prosecution as well as the defence fails to prove the charges against the accused.
  9. If the accused is not acquitted, then under section 233 he may be called and might also be required to bring evidences in his favour.
  10. Section 234 and 235 explains the part of arguments and deciding that whether the accused should be held liable or be released respectively.

Fair trial: What is it and how does it have a vital role in the criminal system?

When one talks about justice delivering system of the nation, one question or rather I’d like to say a mockery is made up of the justice system that is about the lengthy and tedious process which quite often leads to the injustice to the victims. The most famous case which comes into our mind when we talk about the justice delayed is that of the Nirbhaya case, the incident happened in 2012 and now in the year 2020, the accused were hanged to death.

So, the question arises that what is a fair trial? Has it anything related to the long time which a case takes to settle or whether the accused when in custody is provided with his rights and the list of question doesn’t end.

The Indian Constitution has given its citizens a fundamental right which is Right to free legal aid as prescribed in the Article 22(1). Not only the constitution, but also the CrPC has talked about it in the Section 304. Section 304 is ‘Legal aid to accused at State expenses in certain cases.’ Section 304 in simple language basically provides aid to the accused, Sub-section (1) of this section describes that whenever the accused is unable to represent himself by a pleader, the Court shall appoint a pleader to represent the accused and the expenses related to it will be borne by the State. Sub-section (2) of the section is basically the procedural part of appointing the pleader to the accused, the mode of appointing, the facilities, etc. 

In a decided case of Kishore Singh Ravinder Dev v. State of Rajasthan, it was held that the rules as well the regulations as mentioned in the legal system of India has provided elaborate arrangements to safeguard the rights of the accused with a view to preserving his (accused) dignity as a human being and giving him the advantage of a free, fair and impartial course. 

Various concepts, complexions and theories are associated to the principle of fair trial. Fair trial not only means that the justice should be delivered as soon as possible, it also states as in the case of Zahira Habibullah Sheikh & Anr vs State Of Gujarat[ix], that the principle of fair trial represents that the justice has been done without any biases, a trial has been taken in front of an unprejudiced judge and the persons related to the case were given fair opportunities to put their point forward in the case. It is not necessary that in cases where the society has questioned the justice system, the accused must always be accused of the charges, a true and a fair justice would be that where if the accused was not at a fault be released of charges and justice be provided to him/her.

There always lies a conflict of interest between the accused and the society, however the judge in such situations should always apply his own rationale in the case and decide accordingly. The concept of fair trial is a very wide and a subjective concept and cannot be restricted to the various laws and rulings mentioned in the legal system, every person has a right to fair trial which changes day by day and the Courts have also increased the dimensions related to the concept of fair trial.[x]


So, to sum up this article has covered the carious vital aspects related to the concept of ‘trial’ which for a person related to law is quite essential to learn and know. In India, the criminal system has seen a drastic change in the various offences, punishments and as the time passes by more and more concepts would be explored and will be definitely added to it.       


[i] Lucy King, Who Said Change is the Only Constant in Life, MINDSET MATTERS (Apr. 8, 2020, 11:35 PM),

[ii] SCC OnLine SC 108

[iii] AIR 1961 SC 112

[iv] Jury Trial, WIKIPEDIA, (Apr. 8, 2020, 11;50 PM),  

[v] Code of Criminal Procedure, 1973

[vi] Code of Criminal Procedure, 1973

[vii] Negotiable Instruments Act, 1881

[viii] Different Kinds Of Trial Under CRPC Law Essay, UK ESSAYS (Apr. 9, 2020, 12:30 AM),

[ix] 2004 (5) SCC 353

[x] Megha Maji, Fair Trial under Section 304 of Crpc, LEGAL SERVICE INDIA, (Apr. 9, 2020, 4:55 AM),

LawSikho has created a telegram group for exchanging legal knowledge, referrals and various opportunities. You can click on this link and join:

Follow us on Instagram and subscribe to our YouTube channel for more amazing legal content.


Please enter your comment!
Please enter your name here