The PTI-led federal government has planned to insert a new chapter in the Code of Criminal Procedure (CrPC) 1898 for “plea bargaining”.
Criminal Law Reforms 2021 draft, prepared by law ministry has proposed a new chapter XXIIB “plea bargaining” wherein the accused may file an application for plea bargain in trial court, which shall issue notice to the public prosecutor, accused and the complainant.
“If the court is satisfied that the accused has filed the application voluntarily, it would allow all parties to work out disposition of the case.”
However, the law ministry proposes that if the court finds that the application has been filed involuntary by the accused or he has previously been convicted by a court in a case in which he had been charged with the same offence, it shall proceed with the case from the stage when the application for plea bargain was first made.
The proposed amendment states that if satisfactory disposition has been worked out, it shall be signed by the presiding officer of the court and all other persons who participated in the meeting and if no such disposition has been worked out, the court shall record such observation and proceed with the trial.
The law ministry suggested that the plea bargain will apply in respect of an accused against whom the report has been forwarded by the officer in charge of the police station under section 173 alleging therein that an offence appears to have been committed by him other than offence for which the punishment of death or imprisonment for life or of imprisonment for term exceeding seven years has been provided under the law for the time being in force.
However, it does not apply where offence affects the socio-economic condition of the country or has been committed against a woman or a child below the age of 18 years.
For this purpose, the federal government shall by notification determine the offences under the law for the time being in force which shall be offences affecting the socio-economic condition of the country.
Proposed section 226G while talking about power of the court in plea bargaining says that a court shall have for the purposes of discharging its functions under this chapter, all the powers vested in respect of bail, trial of offences and other matters relating to the disposal of a case in such court under this code.
The judgment delivered by the court under section 266E shall be final and no appeal shall lie in any court against such judgment, says the proposed amendment.
It is also stated that the statement of accused shall not be used for any purpose except for the purpose of this chapter.
Insertion of another section in CrPC suggested that right of appeal is given to legal heirs in case a convict dies before filing an appeal against conviction in the same manner as prescribed in the code as if the deceased was alive.