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Whether a mini-trial can be conducted at the stage of framing of charges

May 12, 2021
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Mini trial

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This article is written by Moumita Mondal who is pursuing a Certificate Course in Advanced Criminal Litigation & Trial Advocacy from LawSikho.

Introduction

The trial is conducted against the accused when he pleads not guilty and he can claim for a trial. The mini-trial is different from the long procedural trial that takes place in court against the accused. The mini-trial is the fastest method that delivers the solution without undergoing any trial.  This article will discuss the concept, purpose, and the recent verdicts on the mini-trial. 

Delving into the deeper details of a mini-trial

What is a mini-trial?

A mini-trial is a form of Alternate Dispute Resolution (ADR). It is opted by the parties instead of opting for the long trials. Generally, the trials conducted in a court are very time-consuming and expensive. Thus, the mini-trial is a convenient way to settle the issue. This is a structured method of resolution where both parties agree not to go for a long process. Instead of opting for the long process of the court, the parties opt for a small procedure which is known as a mini-trial. An advisor is appointed to resolve the issues between the two parties. The mini-trial is different from Arbitration and Mediation. The adviser must be impartial and also it is the responsibility of the parties to pay the fees of the advisor. In this process, the advisor inspects the presentation, and then the matter is settled accordingly. If it is a matter relating to the business, then the matter is resolved by the adviser and the representatives of the company who has been authorized to arrive at a solution.

After observing the presentation, the adviser and the business representatives resolve the issues. The mini-trial is mostly selective over the court litigation. It is because the procedure is very lengthy in court litigation. Even if the issue is not solved, then the parties can approach the advisor acting as a mediator.

How does mini-trial work?

The steps which explain the procedure of the mini-trial are as follows:

Objectives of a mini-trial

The purpose for which the mini-trial is preferred are:

Framing of charges stage

If the prima facie arises, then the charges against the accused will be framed in which his release will not be allowed. The court doesn’t need to pass its discretion based only on the facts mentioned in the FIR or the Charge Sheet. The charges are explained to him. then, the accused has a choice to either plead guilty or not guilty. If he pleads guilty, then he will get the punishment for the offense committed by him. If he pleads not guilty, then then the court will conduct the trial.

Can mini-trials be conducted at the stage of framing of charges?

The mini-trials cannot be conducted at the stage of framing of charges. In the State of Rajasthan v. Ashok Kumar Kashyap on 13 April 2021, the charges against the accused were quashed by the High Court of Rajasthan. The charges registered against the accused were under Section 7 of the Prevention of Corruption Act. The High Court of Rajasthan had quashed the charges without inspecting the case whether the prima facie was made out or not. The Supreme Court had already stated that the accused could not be acquitted only based on the defense. It was held that sufficient materials are enough to prove the guilt of the accused. If the prima facie arises from the case, then the court will hold the accused liable for the offence committed by him. The court had ordered the High Court to restore the charges and proceed accordingly against the accused. Therefore, the High Court cannot hold the mini-trial at the stage of framing of charge and the stage of discharge application.

The judge will use his judicial mind when the evidence is placed before him. If the evidence presented by the police officials, proved the allegations against the accused, then the charges will be framed against the accused. And, if there are no sufficient grounds, then he will pass an order to release him.

Case laws

Conclusion

In the recent judgment, the Supreme Court had held that it is not permissible for the High Court to conduct a mini-trial at the framing of charge stage. At the stage, where the charges are being framed, the accused comes to know about the charges booked against him. The trial in the courts usually takes a lot of time. And, so the mini-trial is preferred by the various courts. It is the responsibility of the court to pass the order by judging the materials presented before them. If the court believes that the accused had committed the offence, then they could not release him. Before passing any order, the judges must review the case carefully.

‘Judge acts like God. He should not make mistakes.’ This quote was given by Allahabad High Court when the Magistrate had issued a summoning order without giving any reason. The Allahabad High Court had also stated that the public won’t get justice if the judges make such mistakes. It means that the judge should act carefully without making any errors. It is because the decisions of the judge are binding on all people. Therefore, the verdict should be given by the judicial authority conscientiously.

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