How different is session trial than other trails?

Trial before a Court of Session

One of the basic classifications of offences in the Code of Criminal Procedure, 1973 is the “Summons case” and “Warrant case”. According to section 2(x) of the Code of Criminal Procedure, a Warrant case refers to any case relating to an offence punishable with death, imprisonment for life or imprisonment for a term exceeding two years. Whereas, a Summons case, according to section 2(w) of the Code, means a case relating to an offence not being a warrant case. In other words, Summons case includes all cases relating to offences where the punishment is less than two years.

The Code has laid down the following types of Trial procedures:

1. Sessions Trial or Trial before a Sessions Court,

2. Warrant Trial or Trial of Warrant cases by Magistrates

3. Summons Trial or Trial of Summons cases by Magistrates and

4. Summary Trials.

The Trial procedure for a Warrant case is much more elaborate than the trial procedure for a Summons case. Even under Warrant trials, the cases relating to offences of higher gravity are dealt with by the Sessions Court whereas the cases relating to offences of lesser gravity are dealt with the Magistrates.

Classification of offences- Sessions Court or the Magistrates:

Section 26 of the Code titled “Courts by which offences are triable” read with Schedule I of the Code titled “Classification of Offences” are used to determine whether an offence is triable by the Magistrate or the Court of Sessions.

However, even in cases where an offence is exclusively triable by Sessions Court, it cannot take cognizance of such an offence. According to Section 209 of the Code, A competent Magistrate may take cognizance of such an offence and then commit the case to the Court of Sessions for Trial.
Although Section 199(2) of the Code acts as an exception to this rule where, a Court of Sessions may directly take cognizance of an offence without the case being committed to it in case of defamation of high dignitaries and public servants under certain circumstances. Such trials in the Court of Sessions shall be carried out in accordance with the normal procedure followed by a Magistrate in the trial of a case. The procedure for the same is detailed out under section 237 of CrPC.

Procedure for Sessions Trials:

Chapter XVIII titled ‘Trial before a Court of Session’ under sections 225-237 of CrPC deal with Sessions trial.

According to Section 225 of the Code, in ever trial before a Court of Sessions, the prosecution will be conducted by a Public Prosecutor.[i]

According to section 226, when the accused appears or is brought before the Court after the case has been committed to the Court of Sessions by the competent Magistrate, the prosecution will describe the charges brought against the accused and states all the evidence in pursuance of the same for the Court’s consideration.

Upon consideration of all the documents and submissions made by the prosecution and the accused, if the Judge feels that there isn’t sufficient ground to proceed against the accused, then he may discharge him after recording the reasons for the same according to section 227 of CrPC.

In the popular case of Century Spinning and Manufacturing Company vs. State of Maharashtra[ii], The Court laid down that, if there was “no sufficient ground for proceeding” then the proceeding should no longer be conducted as it might result in wastage of Court’s precious time and an innocent man is being humiliated without any valid ground.[iii]

However, if upon consideration of the above mentioned documents and submissions, the Court is of the opinion that the there are grounds for presuming that the accused has committed an offence;

  • Which is not exclusively triable by the Sessions Court, then the Court may frame charges and transfer the case for trial to the appropriate Court.
  • Which is exclusively triable by the Sessions Court, the Court shall frame a charge in writing against the accused according to section 228 of CrPC.

If the Accused pleads guilty, then the Judge will record the plea and in his discretion convict the accused according to section 229 of the Code. In State of Gujrat vs. Dinesh Chandra Harjibhai Patel[iv], the Court held that, a person is taken to have pled guilty only if he has pled guilty to the facts constituting ingredients of the offence without adding anything external to it. The Supreme Court has also stated on this matter in the case of Pawan Kumar vs. State of Haryana[v] that, if an accused who has not been confronted with the substance of allegations against him, pleads guilty to the violation of a provision of law, that plea is not a valid plea at all.

If the accused doesn’t plead guilty or doesn’t plead or wants to be tried, then the Court shall fix a date for examination of witnesses under section 230.

Upon hearing the evidence for prosecution, defence on point, examination of the accused and other procedures, if the Judge is of the opinion that the accused did not commit the offence, then he may record an order of acquittal according to section 232 of CrPC. And if the Judge is of the opinion that the accused did commit the offence, then he may hear the accused on the question of sentence and pass a sentence on him according to the law under section 235 of CrPC.

Differences between Sessions Trial and other forms of Trial:

There are several common features among the different types of trials in CrPC related to Language of the Courts, Power of Courts to summon any material witnesses or to examine persons present, Power of Court to order payment of expenses of Complainants and witnesses, Commissions for the examination of witnesses and a few more[vi], however, there are a few significant differences between them as well;

Sl. no.

Points of Difference

Sessions Trial

Warrant Trial

Summons Trial

Summary Trial

01

Definitions

All warrant cases where the offence is exclusively triable by a Court of Sessions and cases that are committed to the Court by a competent Magistrate.

All warrant cases triable by the Magistrates where the offences are punishable with imprisonment for a term exceeding two years.

All summons cases related to the offences punishable with imprisonment for a term below two years.

All summons cases related to offences punishable with imprisonment for a term less than 3 months.

02.

Provisions

Sections 225-237 of CrPC

Sections 238-250 of CrPC

Sections 251- 259 of CrPC

Sections 260-265 of CrPC

03.

Type of Offence

Gravest and the most serious offences

Serious offences

Minor offences

Petty offences

04.

Type of Punishment

Cases relating to offences punishable with death penalty, life imprisonment or imprisonment for a term exceeding 7 years.

Cases relating to offences punishable with an imprisonment for a term above 2 years.

Cases relating to offences punishable with an imprisonment for a term less than 2 years.

Cases relating to offences punishable with an imprisonment for a term less than 3 months.

Along with the above basic differences, the procedure for the same shall also vary in accordance with the provisions mentioned in the Code of Criminal Procedure, 1973. For instance, “Framing of Charges” is not necessary in Summons Trial whereas it is an essential part of the procedure in Sessions and Warrant Trial.

Edited by Pushpamrita Roy

Approved & Published – Sakshi Raje 

Reference:

[i] Public prosecutor defined under Section 2 (u) of CrPC, 1973.

[ii]Century Spinning and Manufacturing Company vs. State of Maharashtra  AIR 1972 SC 545

[iii]https://blog.ipleaders.in/difference-between-session-trial-and-warrant-trial/

[iv] State of Gujrat vs. Dinesh Chandra Harjibhai Patel [1994 Cri LJ 1393 (Guj)]

[v] Pawan Kumar vs. State of Haryana [ (1996) 4 SCC 17 ]

[vi]R.V. Kelkar’s Lectures on Criminal Procedure, 6th Ed, 193.

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I am Sindhu, a student of Christ (Deemed to be) University. I am pursuing BA LLB, which means that most of my sentences start with "it depends". I am 11 inches taller than an average Indian woman. I am a strong believer of the fact that there's something new to learn everyday. My fixation is primarily on Intellectual property law. Topics surrounding Criminal law, Environmental law and Indian Government and politics pique my interest as well. I present an enthusiastic aptitude for research and writing. During my free time I like to read books that will leave an impression on me forever and I enjoy baking. In my opinion, "Take each day as it comes" are words to live by.