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Judgment And Post Conviction Orders Under Cr.P.C. | Overview
- Judgment, Decree, Order and Sentence: Differences
- The procedure of Rendering a Judgment
- Post-Conviction Orders
Section 2 (9) of the Code of Civil Procedure defines judgment “as the statement given by the judge of the grounds of a decree or order”. The Code of Criminal Procedure, 1973 does not define the term ‘judgment’ but means the same as defined under the Code of Civil Procedure. Chapter XXVII of the CrPC, 1973 explains the meaning and procedure of passing judgment by a criminal court.
Judgment, Decree, Order and Sentence: Differences
The terms judgment, decree, order and sentence are used synonymously in daily lives without actually delving into the difference between these. It is often said that the court ‘passed a judgment’ whereas actually the court passes a decree or order or sentence but never judge. According to Section 2(2) of the Code of Civil Procedure, 1908, decree means a formal expression of an adjudication done by a judicial authority with the purpose of determining the rights and liabilities of the parties to a case.
Section 2(14) defines order as a formal expression of an adjudication which is not a decree. The order basically means a decree which is passed while the case is still in the trial and the rights and liabilities of the parties are not completely determined. On the other hand, a sentence is passed in a criminal case for the same purpose as a decree in a civil suit.
Now, coming to the meaning of judgment, the term judgment means the reasoning or rationale given by the court for passing any order, decree or sentence. It is the decree or sentences which are operative and the ratio decidendi of the judgment which acts as a precedent.
For instance, A is accused of murdering B and is tried by the court. At the end of the trial, the court finds A not guilty of the offence. The court will acquit A of all charges which are called a sentence of acquittal and explain how evidence was less and how there was reasonable doubt and benefit of the doubt is given to the accused. The explanatory part is called judgment.
In practice, the courts give the decree or order or sentence when the trial is concluded or when an application is decided but, however, judgment comes after some time because the court requires time to prepare the judgment. In People v. Ilebel, the court observed that ‘judgment is the conclusion that naturally follows from the premises of the law and facts’.
In Sedgele v. Avenue, it was observed that judgment is the “determination or sentence of the law, pronounced by a competent judge or court, as the result of an action or proceeding instituted in such court, affirming that, upon the matters submitted for its decision, a legal duty or liability does or does not exist”.
The procedure of Rendering a Judgment
Section 353 of the Code provides that any judgment in any criminal case by a criminal court in its original jurisdiction must be pronounced by the Presiding Officer of that court in an open court. Open court means that the trial must be held in the presence of the public and not in an enclosed hidden room to ensure that the trial was fair and lawful.
Further, according to the provision, the judgment must be rendered immediately after the termination of the trial. If the court believes that the judgment cannot be given immediately after the trial but at a later time, notice must be given to either the parties or their pleaders about the delay in delivering the judgment.
Section 353 entails three ways of giving a judgment by the court. These are:
- By the delivery of the entire judgment in writing and serving the certified copies of such judgment to the parties.
- By reading out the judgment in an open court before the parties or their pleaders in a language understood by the accused or his pleader.
- By reading out the operative part of the judgment, i.e. the sentence to the accused and explaining him/her the substance of the sentence in a language understood by him/her or his/her pleader.
The following procedure must be followed by the court while rendering the judgment in any of the abovementioned manners:
- If the judgment is written in full and informed to the parties or pleaders through a certified copy, then the Presiding Officer of the court shall cause it to be reduced into writing by an officer of the court, under his direction, in short-hand language and the transcript so prepared must be signed by the Presiding Officer on each of the pages of the judgment and write on it the date on which the judgment was delivered.
- If the judgment is made orally as mentioned in clause (b) and (c) above, the presiding officer shall mention the date and sign every page of the judgment in an open court on the date on which the oral judgment is reduced into writing. However, if the judgment is made in the own hand of the presiding officer in the open court, s/he does not need to sign every page.
- If only the operative part of the judgment is read out and explained to the accused as mentioned in clause (c) above, the full judgment must be given to the parties or their pleaders as soon as possible for scrutiny or appeal, as the case may be.
- If the accused is under police or judicial custody at the time of rendering the judgment, s/he must be brought to the court to allow him/her to hear the judgment pronounced.
- If the accused is not in custody but enlarged on bail or bond, the court will require the attendance of the accused at the time of rendering the judgment. However, when the presence of the accused was dispensed with during the trial and the sentence to be passed is only of fine and not imprisonment, the court may also dispense with his attendance for hearing the judgment as well.
- If the judgment is in favour of the accused, i.e. if the accused is to be acquitted of all charges, the court may not require the judgment to be pronounced in the presence of accused.
- When there are more than one accused and one of the accused does not appear before the court at the time of passing the judgment, the court may at its discretion proceed to pronounce the judgment in the absence of the accused.
- Section 354 requires that the judgment must be written in the language of the court unless it does not appear to the court practicable in the interest of justice.
- The judgment must contain the issues which were raised before the court to be determined during the course of trial and it shall also specify the offence for which the accused was tried and for which s/he is convicted and the sentence which has been imposed upon him/her through the judgment.
- If the judgment is pronounced in a case where the maximum punishment is the death penalty and the court passes such sentence, it must record the special reasons for passing such a sentence.
- Further, the court shall always state the reason for passing any sentence of imprisonment specifically when the sentence imposed is less than the mandatory sentence and when it is more than a normal sentence in the given facts and circumstances of the case.
If the judgment, as mentioned above, is that of conviction of the accused, the court is entitled to pass certain orders besides the sentence of fine and imprisonment. Section 357 of the Code entitles the court to pass an order for payment of compensation for the following purposes:
- To defray any expenses incurred by the victim towards the prosecution of the accused.
- To pay any compensation to the victim for any loss or injury caused to the victim by the offence and as decided by the court. The fine amount can be used to pay such compensation and later can be recovered from the accused itself.
- In case of any death caused due to the act of the offender and the family of the victims are entitled to damages or compensation under the Motor Vehicles Act, 1988, the court may order for the utilization of fine amount towards the payment of such compensation.
- To compensate the purchaser of a stolen property who purchased it under a genuine belief that the property is not stolen and that the seller has the absolute and marketable title over the property. However, the seller should also be aware of the fact that the sold property was stolen.
Further, the court is entitled to pass the order of compensation under Section 358 of the Code in favour of persons groundlessly arrested by the police on the information given by some other person or persons. The court is entitled to recover such compensation as a fine from the person who falsely led the arrest of the innocent person.
If a case is non-cognizable under Schedule I of the Code and the Magistrate receives a private complaint of such offence, he may pass an order against the accused, after convicting him of such offence, to pay the cost incurred by the prosecutor, i.e. the complainant in the litigation and any other cost incurred by the complainant due to the act or omission of the convicted person.
Besides the above orders, one most essential order that a court is entitled to pass post-conviction is the order of Probation under Section 360 of the CrPC. Probation is a special form of conviction order whereby the convicted person is not sent to prison but certain conditions are imposed upon his liberty. While passing an order of probation the court must that:
- The person is above 21 years of age,
- The offence for which he is convicted is punishable only by fine or if it is punishable by imprisonment, the punishment must not exceed seven years of imprisonment,
- The person must be a first time offender and
- The offence was committed under circumstances where the offence was unavoidable or unforeseeable or the person’s intention was not free due to situation out of his control (For e.g. a person stealing food who has been hungry for 3 days).
- K.N. Chandrasekharan Pillai, R.V. Kelkar’s Criminal Procedure (6th ed. 2014).
- Ratanlal & Dhirajlal, Commentary on the Code of Criminal Procedure (18th ed. 2006).
- R.V. Kelkar, Lectures on Criminal Procedure (6th ed. 2017).
 §2(9), Code of Civil Procedure, 1908.
 People v. Ilebel, 19 Colo. App. 523.
 Sedgele v. Avenue, 88 Pa. 513.