Author: Siddharth Anand
The topic is very crucial to have a clear understanding of it. Before delving into the topic, we must have a brief idea about what exactly CrPC is. CrPC or Code of Criminal Procedure, also called Criminal Procedure Code is the main legislation on procedure for administration of substantive criminal law in India. CrPC was enacted in the year 1973 and came into force on the 1st of April, 1974. It has 511 sections and 23 chapters, which basically talks about the list of crimes along with their definitions and punishments.
The Code of Criminal Procedure also lays down the hierarchy of the courts competent to try criminal lawsuits, Supreme Court being at the apex. If we talk about the nature, CrPC is pan-India in nature and extend to the whole of India.
As citizens of India, it is very important for us to be well versed with the laws that are being applied in the country. Each one of us is associated with a society, a group or a bunch of people for that matter. We all know that criminal laws impact individuals as well as the entire society, making it utmost important to have knowledge about them.
In India, the Constitution lays down the framework defining fundamental principles. It establishes the structure, procedures, powers and duties of government institutions and sets out fundamental rights, directive principles and the duties of citizens. Our constitution ensures that those who make decisions on behalf of the public fairly represent public opinion. Section 20(2) of the Constitution states that “No person shall be prosecuted and punished for the same offences more than once”. This provision finds its roots in the fact that man shall not be brought into danger for one and the same offence more than once. Section 300 of the Code of Criminal Procedure also embodies the same principle.
Section 300 in The Code of Criminal Procedure, 1973
Person once convicted or acquitted not to be tried for same offence. We shall look into this section in detail and get a clear picture of what exactly it means:
(1) A person who has once been tried by a Court of competent jurisdiction for an offence and convicted or acquitted of such offence shall, while such conviction or acquittal remains in force, not be liable to be tried again for the same offence, nor on the same facts for any other offence for which a different charge from the one made against him might have been made under sub- section (1) of section 221, or for which he might have been convicted under sub- section (2) thereof.
(2) A person acquitted or convicted of any offence may be afterwards tried, with the consent of the State Government, for any distinct offence for which a separate charge might have been made against him at the former trial under sub- section (1) of section 220.
(3) A person convicted of any offence constituted by any act causing consequences which, together with such act, constituted a different offence from that of which he was convicted, may be afterwards tried for such last- mentioned offence, if the consequences had not happened, or were not known to the Court to have happened, at the time when he was convicted.
(4) A person acquitted or convicted of any offence constituted by any acts may, notwithstanding such acquittal or conviction, be subsequently charged with, and tried for, any other offence constituted by the same acts which he may have committed if the Court by which he was first tried was not competent to try the offence with which he is subsequently charged.
(5) A person discharged under section 258 shall not be tried again for the same offence except with the consent of the Court by which he was discharged or of any other Court to which the first- mentioned Court is subordinate.
(6) Nothing in this section shall affect the provisions of section 26 of the General Clauses Act, 1897 , (10 of 1897 ) or of section 188 of this Code. Explanation.- The dismissal of a complaint, or the discharge of the accused, is not an acquittal for the purposes of this section.
Few Illustrations for a better understanding:
(a) Anamika is tried upon a charge of theft as a servant and acquitted. She cannot afterwards, while the acquittal remains in force, be charged with theft as a servant, or, upon the same facts, with theft simply, or with criminal breach of trust.
(b) Aman is tried for causing grievous hurt and convicted. The person injured afterwards dies. Aman may be tried again for culpable homicide.
(c) Aayush is charged before the Court of Session and convicted of the culpable homicide of Ram. Aayush may not afterwards be tried on the same facts for the murder of Ram.
(d) Zoya is charged by a Magistrate of the first class with, and convicted by her of, voluntarily causing hurt to Bishnu. Zoya may not afterwards be tried for voluntarily causing grievous hurt to Bishnu on the same facts, unless the cage comes within sub- section (3) of this section.
(e) Ramesh is charged by a Magistrate of the second class with, and convicted by him of, theft of property from the person of B. Ramesh may subsequently be charged with, and tried for, robbery on the same facts.
(f) X, Y and Z are charged by a Magistrate of the first class with, and convicted by him of, robbing D. X, Y and Z may afterwards be charged with, and tried for, dacoity on the same facts.
Note: If the offences are distinct, there can be no ban on second prosecution.
Case: 1. State of Rajasthan v. Hat Singh:
Article 20(2) of the Indian Constitution provides that no person shall be prosecuted and punished for the same offence more than once. To attract applicability of Article 20(2) there must be a second prosecution and punishment for the same offence for which the accused has been prosecuted and punished previously. A subsequent trial or a prosecution and punishment are not barred if the ingredients of the two offences are distinct.
If the offences are distinct, there is no question of the rule as to double jeopardy being extended and applied.
2. State of Bihar v. Murad Ali Khan (1988) 4 SCC 655:
If there are two distinct and separate offences with different ingredients under two different enactments. a double punishment is not barred.
The same set of facts, in conceivable cases can constitute offences under two different laws. An act or an omission can amount to and constitute an offence under the IPC and at the same time constitute an offence under any other law.
3. S Baliah v. T.S Rengachari (1969) 3 SCR 65:
There is no bar to a trial or conviction of an offender under two different enactments, but the bar is only to the punishment of the offender twice for the offence. Where an act or an omission constitutes an offence under two enactments, the offender may be prosecuted and punished under either or both enactments but shall not be liable to be punished twice for the same offence.
I would like to conclude by highlighting some of the importance of double jeopardy as dealt in Section 300 of the CrPC.
There are several reasons why double jeopardy is important:
1. Successive prosecutions take a toll on the accused: A criminal prosecution can be expensive and can also affect the rest of a person’s life. Multiple prosecutions would prove damaging to a defendant’s financial well-being.
2. The decisions of a judge and jury should count: If a jury acquits a defendant the first time, or a judge determines that someone is not guilty in a bench trial, that decision should count for something. A defendant can appeal, but prosecutors should only get one chance to prove their case, as per the Indian Constitution.
3. Prosecutors’ power to charge individuals should be limited: Any penalties deals that a defendant may face or make all rely upon which charges prosecutors decide to pursue in the first place. The idea that prosecutors have one chance to charge a defendant is thought to encourage better decision-making about what to charge a defendant with.
4. Eliminates judicial discretion to impose multiple punishments for a single crime: Defendants should only be punished once for a crime. The Fifth Amendment forbids judges from applying multiple punishments to the same criminal action.
5.The government’s power and resources could lead to endless prosecution: This is perhaps the most important reason for the existence of double jeopardy. The government generally has more assets at its disposal than a defendant does.