Meaning and Purpose of Trial and Difference between Trial and Inquiry | Overview Introduction Commencement of the Trial Place of Trial Motions prior to Trial Public and Closed Trial People Present at the Trial Judge Parties Lawyers Witnesses Other Support Personnel Trial and Inquiry: Difference The article discusses the Meaning and Purpose of Trial and Difference between Trial… Read More »

Meaning and Purpose of Trial and Difference between Trial and Inquiry | Overview Introduction Commencement of the Trial Place of Trial Motions prior to Trial Public and Closed Trial People Present at the Trial Judge Parties Lawyers Witnesses Other Support Personnel Trial and Inquiry: Difference The article discusses the Meaning and Purpose of Trial and Difference between Trial and Inquiry. Trial means “a judicial examination and determination of facts and legal issues arising...

Meaning and Purpose of Trial and Difference between Trial and Inquiry | Overview

The article discusses the Meaning and Purpose of Trial and Difference between Trial and Inquiry. Trial means “a judicial examination and determination of facts and legal issues arising between parties to a civil or criminal action”[1].

This article aims at examining the meaning and purpose of criminal trials under the Code of Criminal Procedure, 1973. Further, the trial is often misunderstood as inquiry while the code makes a clear distinction. The article shall also analyze the difference between trial and inquiry.


The term ‘trial’ has not been defined by the code, however, in general, it means scrutiny before a judicial authority for the complete determination of legal rights and duties of two or more persons in dispute. The base of the judicial framework in the American States is the trial conducted by the jury (trial by peers). A significant number of the judgments of the U.S. Supreme Court that brings forth the custom or belief which needs to be conformed to relies upon several issues and arguments raised during the peer trial.

The jury trial strategy for settling questions is introduced on the customary belief that two people in dispute can resolve the matter best when they are kept juxtapose to one another, with each side supporting its own variant of material facts.

According to the Adversarial Legal System, the jury, a group of residents from the common people, chooses which certainties in question are valid.

A judge presides at the trial and decides and applies the law. Toward the conclusion of the proceedings in the case, the presiding officer, i.e. the judge shall pronounce the judgment of the court which comprises the choice of the court. The gatherings must hold fast to the judgment of the court.

All trials are not jury trials. A case may likewise be attempted under the watchful eye of a judge. This is known as a ‘court trial’ or a ‘bench trial’ which is followed in India. A bench trial is fundamentally indistinguishable from a jury trial, aside from the judge examines and scrutinizes both the facts and the law relevant to the activity. Frequently, be that as it may, activities made by rule might be attempted uniquely under the steady gaze of the court.

Commencement of the Trial

A trial starts after the primer issues in the activity have been settled and the court is prepared to start the assessment of the material facts. The proceeding ends at the time when the assessment is finished and the court is able to pronounce a judgment or sentence. The trial connotes the proper acknowledgement and recording of a decision unequivocal of the whole activity. Before the trial may start, be that as it may, certain fundamental issues must be settled such as:

  1. Place of Trial: Setting alludes to the specific city wherein a court with competent jurisdictional powers may lead a trial. The best possible setting for most trials is the city or district wherein the injury in question purportedly happened or where the parties dwell. The setting may be that as it may be changed to an alternate jurisdiction. The setting for a criminal trial, for instance, can change if a litigant convinces the trial court that he can’t acquire a reasonable trial in that scene.
  2. Motions prior to Trial: Motions might be made by the prosecutor or the accused whenever preceding trial and may significantly affect the case. For instance, in a criminal case, the trial judge may decide that the essential bit of implicating proof isn’t acceptable in court. Before the trial starts, the court holds a pre-trial gathering with the parties’ lawyers. At the pre-trial meeting, the gatherings tight the issues to be attempted and settle on a wide assortment of different issues important to the manner of the case.
  3. Public and Closed Trial: Albeit most trials are hypothetically open to people in general, now and then a court may choose to hold the trial within an enclosed structure usually called an in-camera proceeding. For the most part, a trial might be shut to the open just to guarantee request and pride in the court or to keep mystery delicate data that will attend light during the court date. In this way, a trial may be shut to general society to secure characterized archives, ensure exchange insider facts, stay away from terrorizing of witnesses, monitor the wellbeing of covert cops, or secure the personality of a juvenile offender.

People Present at the Trial

  1. Judge: The judge directs the court and is the focal figure in a trial. It is the directing judge’s obligation to lead an efficient trial and to guarantee the best possible organization of equity in his court. The judge chooses every single legal issue that emerges during the trial, controls the introduction of evidence by the gatherings, and for the most part coordinates each part of the trial. The judge must be fair, and any issue that loans even the presence of unbiasedness to the trial may exclude the judge. Due to his significance, the managing judge must be available in court from the opening of the trial until it’s nearby and must be effectively open during jury trials while the jury is thinking on its decision. The judge holds a position of respect in the court. The judge sits over the lawyers, the gatherings, the jury, and the testimony box. Everybody in the court must stand when the judge enters or leaves the court. The judge is tended to as “Your Honor” or “the Court.” Although the judge has expansive circumspection during the trial, his decisions must not be arbitrary or unjustifiable.
  2. Parties: In a trial, the term party alludes to an individual, association, or government that takes part in the trial and has an enthusiasm for the trial’s result. In a criminal trial, the administration is represented by a lawyer, known as the Public Prosecutor, who tries to demonstrate the blame of the litigant. Albeit a criminal respondent may speak for himself during the trial, he is qualified for portrayal by counsel. On the off chance that a litigant can’t manage the cost of a lawyer, the court will delegate one for him. An accused has a protected right to be available at each basic phase of the trial under Section 273 of the CrPC. Likewise, many court choices have held that the trial of a denounced without his presence at each basic phase of the trial abuses his protected right to fair treatment. A litigant may forgo this privilege and decide not to go to the trial or bits of the trial and be represented by his pleader.
  3. Lawyers: Each side in a trial has the option to be spoken to by a lawyer or lawyers, albeit a party is allowed to lead the trial himself. On the off chance that a gathering chooses to be spoken to by a lawyer, the court must hear the lawyer’s contentions; to decline to hear the lawyer would deny him his right to be heard and the opportunity to a fair trial. In a criminal trial, the litigant has a privilege to be spoken to by a lawyer, or lawyers, based on his personal preference. In the event that the litigant can’t manage the cost of a lawyer, and the wrongdoing is more grave than a trivial offence, the court will delegate one for him. The lawyers are available in a trial to speak to the parties to the proceedings, yet they likewise have an obligation to see that the trial is reasonable and fair.
  4. Witnesses: a Witness is a person who is an observer of a fact or incident related to the offence that has been committed provided he is competent to observe ad testify in court.. Witnesses assist the parties to frame their respective cases because witnesses are believed to be independent persons speaking the truth. A witness may answer all the questions he has been asked or if he wishes he can refuse to answer any question but under valid circumstances such as if the answer will incriminate him. Witnesses also assist in the completion of the investigation process by the police officer. For instance, if a police officer has discovered a fingerprint or a footprint from the scene of the crime, the witness may assist the officer by testifying on behalf of the prosecutor that the finger[prints were discovered from the crime scene and not any other place. The cop would affirm that he found the fingerprints at the wrongdoing scene and that he discovered that the fingerprints coordinated the litigant’s fingerprints. An observer must affirm honestly. Prior to giving declaration in a trial, an observer makes a vow or insistence to come clean.
  5. Other Support Personnel: Various individuals may aid the trial judge in directing the trial. The court reporter, otherwise called the stenographer, records each word expressed during the trial, aside from where the judge holds a meeting confidentially. The court correspondent readies an official transcript of the trial if a gathering demands it. The bailiff is an official of the court who maintains order and dignity in the court. A language mediator or interpreter is available in a court when a party or witness can’t communicate in the language of the court. At long last, most judges have a legal clerk also called the judicial clerk who helps the judge in directing exploration and drafting legal obiters.

Trial and Inquiry: Difference

Every one of those procedures before a Magistrate preceding the confining of a charge which doesn’t bring about conviction is “inquiry”. Trial is a procedure which includes assessment and assurance of a reason by a legal court, and which finishes in conviction or quittance of the charged person.
An inquiry into an offence never finishes in conviction or quittance; at the most, it might bring about release or committal of the case for trial by a Magistrate/Sessions Judge. Trial concludes in the final determination of the question of guilt or innocence of the accused person.
An inquiry doesn’t really mean a probe into the existence of an offence or crime since it might identify with issues which are not offences. Trial is the examination or assessment of the offence and whether the said offence has been committed by the said person or not.
Inquiry alludes to each Inquiry other than a trialled under the CrPC by a Magistrate or a Court. Trial is the assessment and assurance of a reason by a legal court which has jurisdiction over it.
Inquiry is a subsequent stage which lies second in the chronology after investigation. Trial is the third stage in the entire criminal prosecution. It follows the stages of investigation and inquiry.


  1. Ratanlal & Dhirajlal, Commentary on the Code of Criminal Procedure (18th ed. 2006).
  2. V. Kelkar, Lectures on Criminal Law (8th ed. 2016).
  3. Thomas A. Mauet, Fundamentals of Trial Techniques, Boston: Little, Brown (1992).

[1] Brian A. Garner, Black’s Law Dictionary 6th ed.

  1. Alteration and withdrawal of charge under Cr.P.C, 1973(Opens in a new browser tab)
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Updated On 27 May 2020 12:59 AM GMT
Ashish Agarwal

Ashish Agarwal

Advocate | School of Law, Christ University Alumnus

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