(iii) Summons procedure (which is less time-consuming than warrant procedure) has been extended to offences punishable with two years’ imprisonment. Earlier, only offences attracting upto one year’s imprisonment were covered.
(iv) Summary trials, which are conducive to speedy disposal of cases, are now prescribed for offences punishable with one year’s imprisonment (instead of for offences punishable with six months’ imprisonment, as was formerly the case).
(v) The accused is given an opportunity to make a representation against the punishment before it is imposed in sessions and warrant trials.
(b) Changes to avoid needless delay and to save time:
(i) To avoid the malady of protracted police investigation, S. 167 provides that the accused can be released on bail (even in case of a non-bailable offence) if the investigation is not completed within 60 days. Similarly, S. 167 also provides that the accused can be discharged, where investigation is not completed within six months of the date of the accused’s arrest, in respect of offences punishable with a maximum of two years’ imprisonment.
(ii) The process of compulsory stoppage of proceedings by a Subordinate Court on the mere intimation of a party to move a higher Court for transfer of a case, is now done away with. (S. 407)
(iii) Now, successors to office can continue the hearing of part- heard cases, instead of hearing them de novo, as was earlier the case.
(iv) Revisions against interlocutory orders (which often contributed heavily to delay) are now specifically barred. [S. 397(2)]
(v) Adjournments are sought to be made difficult, as the Court is empowered to order the party seeking such adjournments to pay costs to the other party. The 1978 Amendment has further provided that an adjournment should not be granted only for the purpose of enabling the accused to show cause against the proposed sentence.
(vi) A time-limit is now prescribed for completion of security proceedings. [S. 116(6)]
(vii) Powers to grant anticipatory bail are given to the High Courts and to the Sessions Courts. (S. 438)
(viii) A provision is also made to set off the period of detention of an under-trial prisoner against the sentence imposed on him.
(ix) A period of limitation, on a graded scale, has been prescribed for the first time, for offences punishable with upto three years’ imprisonment. (S. 468)
(x) In petty cases, provision is made for the accused to plead guilty by registered post, and likewise to remit the fine specified in the summons. (Ss. 206 and 253) The scope of S. 206 was further expanded by the 1978 Amendment.
(xi) Jury-trials are abolished.
(xii) Provision is made for the service of summons by registered post in certain cases.
(xiii) A re-trial is not now necessarily to be ordered when a Court of Appeal or Revision discovers any error, omission or irregularity in the charge.
In Nimeon Sangma & Others v. Home Secretary, Govt, of Meghalaya & Others [(1980) S.C.C. 700], the Supreme Court emphasized the necessity for expeditious disposal of cases, including investigations and trials. In a hard-hitting judgment, Justice V.R. Krishna Iyer observed as follows:
“Criminal justice breaks down at a point when expeditious trial is not attempted, while the affected parties are languishing in jail. It is unfortunate, indeed pathetic, that there should have been such considerable delay in investigations by the police in utter disregard of the fact that a citizen has been deprived of his freedom on the ground that he is accused of an offence. We do not approve of this course and breach of the rule of law, and express our strong displeasure at this chaotic state of affairs verging on wholesale breach of human rights guaranteed under the Constitution, especially under Article 21, as interpreted by the Court.”
(c) Changes to afford relief and facilities to poorer sections of the community:
(i) Legal aid is made available to an indigent (poor) accused in trial of cases by the Sessions Court, and this facility may be extended to other categories by the State Government. (S. 304)
(ii) Provision is made for payment of compensation to the victims of the crime by the accused.
(iii) A right to get an order of maintenance is given to divorced wives and indigent parents unable to do so, in maintenance proceedings. (S. 125)
(iv) Provisions are also made for ordering payment of costs, including advocates’ fees, incurred by the defence, when commissions are issued for examination of a witness for the prosecution.
(d) Miscellaneous Changes:
(i) Magistrates are to be appointed by High Courts, instead of by the State Governments.
(ii) The institution of J.P.s (Justice of Peace) is done away with.
(iii) A novel feature of great significance is the provision for submission of written arguments by both sides at a trial. (S. 314)
(iv) The ordinary original criminal jurisdiction of the High Court is abolished.
(v) The “Presidency Towns” are now converted into “Metropolitan Areas”, and the Judicial Magistrates in these areas are designated as Metropolitan Magistrates.
(vi) The concept of “plea bargaining” has been introduced by the Criminal Law Amendment) Act, 2005.