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IRREGULAR CRIMINAL PROCEEDINGS

Introduction

Two types of laws govern every country. They are:

  1. Substantive law: It explains the various remedies available for getting relief for the victim or exercising his rights.
  2. Procedural law: It lays down different rules and regulations prescribed to be followed by the courts of law while implementing substantial law.

The Indian criminal law, deals with issues connected to violations of socially taboo behaviour and aims to achieve justice by punishing the guilty and offering remedies to the wronged parties. Among other things, the goal of criminal law is to uphold and defend societal interests. Criminal courts enforce the criminal code by statutes, rulings, and other measures, and it is anticipated that they will reach an impartial conclusion in all cases. However, there might be some situations when irregularities have been committed that are either curable or irreparable. The implications of a criminal court’s anomalies are the topic of this blog.

Definition of Criminal: The word “criminal” refers to an act that indicates damage done to society by a particular person or group of people against the country’s law.

Definition of Proceedings: One of the procedural laws in India is the Criminal Procedure Code of 1973, which lays out the steps to take when investigating a crime, apprehending suspects, gathering evidence, deciding an accused person’s guilt or innocence, and determining the appropriate sentence. The term “Proceedings” refers to all the actions that must be taken in criminal courts while applying pertinent substantive legislation.

Definition of Irregular Proceedings: The term “irregular” refers to something bound to happen unexpectedly. The Court’s goal under criminal law is to give the accused a fair trial by following the procedures outlined in the Criminal Procedure Code. While carrying out such functions, there is always the possibility of some irregularity in the proceedings, known as irregular proceedings.

Different kinds of Irregularities

The Criminal Procedure Code’s Chapter XXXV categorises irregularities and defines their consequences.

  1. Certain irregularities do not vitiate the proceedings and can be cured, as defined in section 460[1].
  2. Irregularities that vitiate the proceedings, as defined in section 461[2], cannot be cured and is deemed null and void.

Vitiate refers to making something less effective by introducing a fault or defect.

The objective of Section 460:

Section 460 of the Criminal Procedure Code’s purpose is not only not to annul the proceedings but also to correct the irregularities subject to the conditions specified in it.

Conditions for applicability of section 460:

Irregularities that do not vitiate proceedings mentioned in this section can be corrected if the following conditions are met:

  1. The Magistrate is not empowered by the law to pass such orders.
  2. The Magistrate has passed such an order erroneously in good faith.

If the conditions mentioned above are fulfilled in the case of the irregularities listed below, then such proceedings can be corrected and are not dismissed because they were not authorised.

Irregularities that can be cured under section 460

  • In the Sureshbhai Jehaji Thakor case[3], it was observed that the offence committed should have been tried under summons procedure as prescribed under section 155[4], but the case was tried as a warrant case because one of the offences was cognizable. The trial, in this case, is not vitiated.
  • In Akbaruddin Owaisi case[5], it is observed that according to Section 187[6], if the Court with jurisdiction has not taken cognizance of the matter and the offence is brought to the attention of a Magistrate who is not competent to try it, the latter may refer it to the competent Magistrate.
  • In Manian vs P.M. Nachimuthu case[7], it is observed that if a Second Class Magistrate whom a Chief Judicial Magistrate does not specially empower, takes cognizance of such offences defined under sections 190(1)(a) & 190(1)(b)[8] in good faith, then such an order cannot be set aside.
  • In C.Mishra case[9], it was contested that according to the provision of section 306[10], at any point throughout the investigation, inquiry, or trial, the Chief Judicial Magistrate or a Metropolitan Magistrate has the authority to grant a person’s request for a pardon. A First Class Magistrate has the power to grant a person a pardon at any point throughout the investigation or trial. Suppose a magistrate grants a person’s request for a pardon despite not having the legal authority to do so, as long as the irregularity was made in good faith. In that case, the proceeding will not be invalidated.
  • It was observed in the Jawahar Singh case[11] that Learned C.J.M. has no power to recall or withdraw because no case was pending before the Magistrate at the appropriate time. The pendency of the case before the Magistrate is a prerequisite for exercising power under Section 410[12]. But if any First Class Magistrate who, without a Chief Judicial Magistrate’s authorization, transfers the case to another competent Magistrate, then such First Class Magistrate can withdraw the case and may try it himself. Recalling the case cures the irregularity.

The objective of section 461:

Regardless of whether the Magistrate acted in good faith or not, the purpose of Section 461 of the Criminal Procedure Code is to declare the proceedings null and void when certain irregularities occur.

Conditions for applicability of section 461:

The Magistrate must not be granted legal authority to issue such orders for section 461 to be applicable.

Irregularities that become void under section 461:

According to provisions of section 461 of Cr. P.C., if any Magistrate acting without legal authority conducts any of the things listed below, such irregularities will vitiate the proceedings and are considered void. 

  • In the Pattabirama Reddy v. Nageshwara Reddy case[13], the learned Judge has not passed a search warrant for a document held by a telegraph authority, saying that he has no authority provided under section 92[14], stated that he is not empowered to pass such an order. If he gives such an order, such a search warrant will be invalid.
  • In the Ayyappa Stone Crusher case[15], the learned Judge has stated that the order issued by Mandal Executive Magistrates under Section 133[16]. without being authorised by the State Government is considered void and set aside, which illustrates the provision that any conditional order for the removal of a nuisance passed by any other Magistrate, the order is assumed to be void, except a District Magistrate, a Sub-divisional Magistrate, or any other Executive Magistrate particularly authorised in this regard by the State Government.
  • In the Shitla Prasad case[17], it was contended that any other Magistrate who issues a directive to someone not to repeat or continue a public disturbance is deemed void, except a District Magistrate, Sub-divisional Magistrate, or any other Executive Magistrate particularly authorised in this regard by the State Government under sections 143, 144, 145, 146, 147 and 148[18] of Cr.P.C.
  • In the Harshwardhan Singh Rawat case[19], it was observed that the C.J.M. taking cognizance under 190(1)(c)[20] was improper, so the order passed by such a learned judge is quashed, which illustrates that such an irregularity cannot be cured.

Conclusion

By holding offenders accountable and providing victims with remedies, the Criminal Procedure Code assists in the application of substantive criminal laws to achieve justice. For the courts to operate efficiently and administer justice, the Criminal Procedure Code’s norms and procedures must be followed. While monitoring the procedures, we occasionally notice a few abnormalities, such as the trial of a summons case as a warrant case, a magistrate acting without jurisdiction but in good faith, and the transfer of cases by a magistrate without legal authorization. These improper processes act as a roadblock to case resolution, but some of the irregularities can be fixed and there are ways to avoid quashing such proceedings.

Author(s) Name: Boora Shiva (Osmania University, Hyderabad)

References:

[1] Criminal Procedure Code, 1973, s 460

[2] Criminal Procedure Code, 1973, s 461

[3] Sureshbhai Jehaji Thakor vs State Of Gujarat And Anr (2007) CriLJ 2488

[4] Criminal Procedure Code, 1973, s 155

[5] Akbaruddin Owaisi v/s The Govt. Of A.P. rep., by its Principal Secretary & Others (2013) W.P No. 824 of 2013

[6] Criminal Procedure Code, 1973, s 187

[7] S. Manian vs. P.M. Nachimuthu (2000) (3) CTC 680

[8] Criminal Procedure Code, 1973, ss 190(1)(a) & 190(1)(b)

[9] P.C.Mishra vs State (C.B.I) & Anr (2014) Criminal Appeal No.1310/2010

[10] Criminal Procedure Code, 1973, s 306

[11] Jawahar Singh & Ors vs State Of Bihar & Anr (2010) Cr.Misc. No.54054 of 2007

[12] Criminal Procedure Code, 1973, s 410

[13] Pattabirama Reddy v. Nageshwara Reddy (2001) C.C NO.3774/91

[14] Criminal Procedure Code, 1973, s 92

[15] Ayyappa Stone Crusher, Kuntrapakam v. MRO, Tirupathi (2001)  roc.C/777/2000

[16] Criminal Procedure Code, 1973, s 133

[17] Shitla Prasad And Others v. Additional Sessions Judge, Gayanpur, Varanasi And Others (1994) WP No. 33359/1993

[18] Criminal Procedure Code, 1973, ss 143, 144, 145, 146, 147 & 148

[19] Harshwardhan Singh Rawat v. State Of Uttarakhand (2013) Cr.Misc.No.880/2008

[20] Criminal Procedure Code, 1973, s 190(1)(c)