A Law on ‘Spent Conviction’; an Effective Solution to Reduce Pendency of Criminal Cases

Author: Akshita Sharma       

Few years before, during a discussion, the General Counsel of one of the greatest Fortune 500 Companies, noticed that the distinction between China and India, when it reach to the Legal Process was, that in China you could never predict to get an order against a Chinese Party and in India, you could seldom predict to get a final order. The General Counsel was only express an off-repeated grievance that the pendency of an indefensible large number of cases has long been identified and reword and several solutions have been recommended and attempted.

In 2018 Article by PRS Legislative Research, it was marked out that 86% of all the remaining cases were remaining in the Sub-ordinate Courts and out of these 81% cases were Criminal cases and only 19% are Civil Cases. The AIR Manual includes all Statutes presently in force and when finished, the series is probable to have more than 50 Volumes. A glimpse through Volume 1 exhibits that 18 of the 43 statues stated in it lays down for Criminal Prosecutions and penalties. Of these 5 statutes generate offences which lays down for imprisonment of more than 3 years while the pending 13 examine offences that are punishable with a maximum of three years imprisonment and a fine or in the substitute, only a fine. In fact, this is true of the huge majority of statutes that levy criminal liabilities. The statutes that levy more heinous penalties are comparatively less. Thirty years back criminal lawyers could pass their whole careers defending prosecutions under The Indian Penal Code, 1860, all by oneself. At present Criminal Lawyers can now pass their whole careers without defending a single case under that statute. From past three decades have notice the enactment of many statutes that make culpable, acts of omission instead commission and it is this, in part, that has begun to a prominent rise in the number of criminal prosecutions.

In the case The State Bank of India v. P. Soupramaniane[1], the Supreme Court of India, noticed that acts which reveals depravity and wickedness of personality could be classified as offences including moral wickedness and included the provision that whether an offence included moral wickedness or not would depend on the facts and condition of the case. In the Judgement the Supreme Court moreover accept the test specify by the Allahabad High Court in Mangali v. Chhakki Lal And Others[2] as being (1) whether the act directing to a conviction was such as could disturb the moral sense or society in widespread, (2) whether the purpose which led to the act was a foundation one and (3) whether on description of the act having been committed the criminal could be contemplated to be of a depraved personality or a person who was to be glance down upon by the society. By this system, the huge majorities of offences which are address with criminal outcomes are not offences of moral wickedness and should, as such, firmly be treated otherwise from those including behavior or purpose.  

Numerous countries have long observed and established the idea of a ‘spent’ conviction but this idea is largely unknown to Indian Jurisprudence. What is ‘spent conviction’? In substance, it is a way by which, after the transit of a described period of time, the disgrace and disqualification, if any, fixing to a criminal conviction, is considered to be removed out as the conviction itself, is considered to be removed out. After the transit of that described time, which is distinct for distinct offenses, the convict can lawfully answer the question by any power, “Have you been convicted of a criminal offense? In the United Kingdom, this Law is written under ‘The Rehabilitation of Offenders Act 1974′, and in Australia, it is written in the Commonwealth Spent Convictions Scheme 1990 performs the same motive. Under the Scheme in Australia, the States have passed numerous legislations; one example is being the Spent Convictions Act 2000 relevant to the Australian Capital Territory. More countries like South Africa, New Zealand, Ireland, Spain, Sweden, and France also have distinct laws and procedures planned to meet the same purpose. ‘Spent conviction’ legislation, mainly in cases where there is no criminal object inspiring the offense, is not only in the regard of society at huge but would also oblige to support individuals to admit their guilt and relieve the impact of contested litigation. This combined with a more adjustable convicting policy could modify the aspect of criminal litigation, very substantially.

[1] Civil Appeal No. 7011 of 2009

[2] AIR 1963 All 527