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Warrant Trial under BNSS (Bharatiya Nagarik Suraksha Sanhita)

Updated: Feb 22

Introduction


Warrant trials like Criminal Procedure Code, 1973 (CRPC) has a separate and dedicated chapter under Bharatiya Nagarik Suraksha Sanhita, 2023 (BNSS). In Chapter XXI of the BNSS, the procedures for trial of warrant-cases by Magistrates is dealt with, covering cases instituted on a police report and those instituted otherwise than on a police report.


A. Cases Instituted on a Police Report


1. Compliance with Section 230 (Section 261 BNSS):


When an accused appears in a warrant-case instituted on a police report, the Judicial Magistrate ensures compliance with Section 230 BNSS.


2. Discharge of Accused (Section 262 BNSS):


The accused has the right to apply for discharge within sixty days from the framing of charges. If the Magistrate deems the charge groundless after due consideration and hearing, the accused is discharged, and the reasons are recorded.


3. Framing of Charge (Section 263 BNSS):


If there is ground for presuming the accused committed an offence, the Magistrate frames a written charge within sixty days from the first hearing on charge. The accused is then asked to enter a plea.


4. Conviction on Plea of Guilty (Section 264 BNSS):


When the accused pleads guilty, the Magistrate may, at their discretion, record the plea and convict the accused.


5. Evidence for Prosecution (Section 265 BNSS):


If the accused refuses to plead or the Magistrate does not convict based on a guilty plea, a date is fixed for the examination of witnesses. The Magistrate may permit cross-examination deferral and allow the use of audio-video electronic means for witness testimony.


6. Evidence for Defense (Section 266 BNSS):


The accused enters the defense, and if written statements are submitted, the Magistrate files them. The Magistrate may issue processes for witness attendance or document production.


B. Cases Instituted Otherwise Than on Police Report


1. Evidence for Prosecution (Section 267 BNSS):


In warrant-cases instituted otherwise than on a police report, the Magistrate hears the prosecution and takes evidence in support of it.


2. Discharge of Accused (Section 268 BNSS):


If, after taking evidence, the Magistrate finds no case against the accused, he may discharge the accused. The Magistrate retains the authority to discharge the accused at any previous stage if the charge is deemed groundless.


3. Procedure Where Accused is Not Discharged (Section 269 BNSS):


If the Magistrate finds grounds for presuming the accused committed an offence, he frames a written charge. The accused is asked to plead guilty or enter a defense. If the accused refuses to plead, the Magistrate proceeds with cross-examination and re-examination of prosecution witnesses.


C. Conclusion of Trial


1. Acquittal or Conviction (Section 271 BNSS):


If the Magistrate finds the accused not guilty, an order of acquittal is recorded. In case of a guilty verdict, the Magistrate, after hearing the accused on the question of sentence, passes sentence according to the law.


2. Absence of Complainant (Section 272 BNSS):


When proceedings are instituted upon a complaint, and the complainant is absent, the Magistrate, after giving thirty days' time, may discharge the accused if the offence is compoundable or not cognizable.


3. Compensation for Accusation Without Reasonable Cause (Section 273 BNSS):


In cases instituted upon complaint or information, the Magistrate, upon discharging or acquitting the accused, may order the complainant to pay compensation if there was no reasonable ground for the accusation.


Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs) on Warrant Trials under BNSS


Q1: What is the significance of warrant trials under the Bharatiya Nagarik Suraksha Sanhita (BNSS)?


A1: Warrant trials are crucial components of the criminal justice system, and BNSS, akin to CRPC, provides a comprehensive framework for these proceedings. It outlines the procedures for trial of warrant-cases by Magistrates.


Q2: How does compliance with Section 231 (Section 261) contribute to a fair trial in cases instituted on a police report?


A2: Compliance with Section 231 ensures that the accused's appearance in a warrant-case is met with adherence to legal procedures, setting the foundation for a fair and just trial.


Q3: What options does an accused have regarding discharge in warrant trials under BNSS?


A3: An accused has the right to apply for discharge within sixty days from the framing of charges. If the Magistrate deems the charge groundless, the accused is discharged, with recorded reasons.


Q4: How does the framing of charges occur in warrant trials under Section 263 of BNSS?


A4: If there is ground for presuming the accused committed an offence, the Magistrate frames a written charge within sixty days from the first hearing on charge, and the accused is asked to enter a plea.


Q5: What happens if the accused pleads guilty in a warrant trial under BNSS?


A5: If the accused pleads guilty, the Magistrate may, at their discretion, record the plea and convict the accused as per Section 264.


Q6: How is witness testimony handled in cases where the accused refuses to plead or the Magistrate doesn't convict based on a guilty plea (Section 265)?


A6: A date is fixed for the examination of witnesses, and the Magistrate may permit cross-examination deferral. Audio-video electronic means can be utilized for witness testimony.


Q7: What steps are involved when the accused enters the defense in warrant trials (Section 266)?


A7: The accused enters the defense, and if written statements are submitted, the Magistrate files them. Processes for witness attendance or document production may be issued.


Q8: How does the Magistrate handle cases instituted otherwise than on a police report under Section 267 of BNSS?


A8: In such cases, the Magistrate hears the prosecution, takes evidence, and follows the procedure outlined for warrant-cases instituted otherwise than on a police report.


Q9: Can an accused be discharged at any stage in the trial under BNSS?


A9: Yes, the Magistrate retains the authority to discharge the accused at any stage if, after taking evidence, it is found that no case against the accused has been made out.


Q10: How does Section 273 of BNSS address compensation for unfounded accusations?


A10: In cases instituted upon complaint or information, the Magistrate may order the complainant to pay compensation if there was no reasonable ground for the accusation. The provisions include an appeal process and consider compensation in subsequent civil suits.


Warrant Trial under BNSS (Bharatiya Nagarik Suraksha Sanhita)



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