Important Functionaries in details:-
The ordinary criminal courts derive their existence from CrPC. However, CrPC does not say anything about the constitution of Police. It assumes the existence of police and devolves various powers and responsibilities on to it.
As per The Police Act, 1861, the police force is an instrument for the prevention and detection of crime.
Every state establishes its own police force which is formally enrolled. The force consists of such number of officers and men and is constituted in such manner as the state govt. may decide from time to time. The overall administration of police in the entire state is done by Director General of Police. The administration of police in a district is done by District Superintendent of Police under the general control and direction of District Magistrate who is usually the Collector of the district. Every police officer appointed to the police force, other than Inspector General of Police and District Superintendent of Police, receives a certificate in the prescribed form by virtue of which he is vested with the powers, functions and privileges of a police officer.
The Police Act, 1888 also empowers the Central Govt to create special police districts and to extend the jurisdiction of police of any state to that district. The Police Act 1949, creates a police force for Union Territories.
- The Cr P C confers specific powers on the members of police force who are enrolled as police officers. These powers include power to make an arrest, search, and investigate. Wider powers have been given to police officers in charge of a police station. As per Section 2(s), police station means any post or place that is generally or specially designated by the state govt as a police station. Further, as per Section 2(o)officer in charge of a police station includes the officer who is present at the police station and is next in rank to the police officer in charge, if he is on leave or is absent. This only increases the importance of the police officer in charge of a police station.
- Section 36 of CrPC specifies that officers of police who are superior in rank to police officer in charge of a police station can exercise all the powers of that police officer. In the case of State of Bihar v. J A C Saldanha SCC 1980, SC held that if the Inspector General (Vigilance) is an officer superior to the officer in charge of the police station he can exercise the powers of that officer throughout the territory to which the superior officer has been appointed, which, in this case is the entire territory of Bihar.
A crime is a wrong not only against an individual but is also against the society. It is because of this reason that the state, which represents the collective of people, participates in the criminal trial of an accused, specially if the crime is of cognizable nature. Public Prosecutor or Assistant Public Prosecutor is the state counsel for such trials. As per section 2(u), Public Prosecutor means any person appointed under Section 24 and includes any person acting under the directions of the public prosecutor.
Section 24 of CrPC specifies the rules for appointment of Public Prosecutor. A person shall be eligible to be appointed in High Court as Public Prosecutor if he has been in practice as an advocate for not less than seven years. The appointment can be made only after consultation with the High Court. Further, the central govt. can appoint a Public Prosecutor for conducting in a high court any prosecution, appeal, or another proceeding on behalf of the Central Govt.
Assistant Public Prosecutor is appointed under Section 25. It authorizes the State Govt. to appoint one or more APPs for every district for conducting any case in Court of Magistrates. No police officer is allowed to be appointed as APP.
The duty of a public prosecutor mainly consists in conducting the prosecution on behalf of the state. His goal is not merely to produce a conviction but the help the court arrive at a just decision. He also appears as the state counsel in criminal appeals, revisions, and such other matters in the Session Courts and High Court. It is important to note that he does not appear on behalf of the accused.
- As per Section 301, a Public Prosecutor or Assistant Public Prosecutor has the authority to appear and plead before any court in any case entrusted to him.
- As per Section 321, he can withdraw from the prosecution against any person with the consent of the court.
According to the pattern set by CrPC, Public Prosecutors conduct the proceedings in Session Courts and the High Courts and Assistant Public Prosecutors are appointed for conducting the prosecution in Magistrates’ Courts. As per prevailing practice, in respect of cases initiated on police reports, the prosecution is conducted by the APP and in cases initiated on a private complaint, the prosecution is either conducted by the complainant himself or by his duly authorized counsel.
3. Defense Counsel
As per Section 303, any person accused of an offence before a Criminal Court has a right to be defended by a pleader of his choice. Such pleaders are not in regular employment of the state and a paid remuneration by the accused person. Since, a qualified legal practitioner on behalf of the accused is essential for ensuring a fair trial, Section 304 provides that if the accused does not have means to hire a pleader, the court shall assign a pleader for him at state’s expense.
At present there are several schemes through which an indigent accused can get free legal aid such as Legal Aid Scheme of State, Bar Association, Legal Aid and Service Board, and Supreme Court Senior Advocates Fee Legal Aid Society. The Legal Services Authorities Act, 1987 also provides free legal aid for the needy.
4. Prison Authorities
CrPC presumes the existence of Prisons and Prison authorities. The code empowers magistrates and judges under certain circumstances to order the detention of under-trial prisoners in jail during the pendency of proceedings. The code also empowers the courts to impose sentences of imprisonment on convicted persons and to send them to prison authorities. However, the code does not make specific provisions for creation and administration of prison authorities. These matters are dealt with in separate acts such as The Prisons Act 1894, The Prisoners Act, 1900, and the Probation of Offenders Act 1958.
By – L. Sanmiha (Saveetha School of Law, Chennai)
- Universal Bare Act, 2017
- R.V. Kelkar’s Criminal Procedure, EBC 2016