MOHAR SINGH, Sohail Ansari and several others would have languished behind the bars, awaiting justice for years and the fears of Malaysian consultant Chuan Choong Yau about India would not have changed, had they not been part of the mega Lok Adalat – the first of its kind in Bhopal on Sunday.
More specifically, the Plea Bargaining Court at the Lok Adalat settled 128 cases on the spot, saving 90 persons from imprisonment and reducing the term period of several others.
Thanks to Section 265 (A) - (L) of CrPC — a result of the judicial reform initiated by the Centre by amending the Code of Criminal Procedure in Y-2006.
The plea bargaining initiative has been introduced for the first time in the State capital through the Lok Adalat on Sunday and the bench comprised Chief Judicial Magistrate Ravindra Singh and Special Railway Magistrate Suresh Singh, who settled cases one after another with a humane face, simultaneously questioning the accused and signing the ordersheet.
“It is a bargaining process, whereby an accused accepts his crime and thereby the court decides on his sentence. In several cases, we let the accused go free or reduce the one-year period to six months depending on the case,” Ravindra said. It helps to reduce the number of pending cases, he said adding three crore cases are pending in various courts of the country.
In the day’s court, several cases appeared where the accused had already been behind bars during the trial period. Taking this point into consideration, the court ordered reduction in the sentence period. The Lok Adalat also witnessed an important case settlement related to a foreign national that helped in reinstating faith in Indian judiciary.
A consultant with the US-based Stanly Consultant Inc, Chuan Choong Yau, who has been providing his services in Madhya Pradesh on road development, was duped by a person known to him, who by gaining his faith borrowed Rs 4.70 lakh.
When it came to returning the amount, the person concerned gave Yau a cheque that bounced. Despite several requests, the man hardly showed any interest in returning the money.
“I have been in India for the last seven years and having worked with the Central Government and several other states, my experiences with the government functioning, bureaucracy and legal aspects was not quite good. I was quite apprehensive in approaching the court in Bhopal. But I did so after much persuasion of my lawyer,” Yau told Hindustan Times.
A case of criminal complaint came to the court of first-class magistrate Vaibhav Mandloi on January 22 and it was settled today itself, whereby through mutual settlement, Yau got his money back.
I am happy today, as the day’s experience has altogether changed my perception towards India, especially its judiciary and I’ll tell my people in Malaysia about it,” he added. Maybe, Yau’s positive words might help the State in getting some foreign investment as well.
Later speaking to Hindustan Times on Plea Bargaining, District & Sessions Judge Renu Sharma said the court goes liberal in its verdict, while looking into the approval of the accused, who realises and agrees to his offence.
“It is a voluntary process, where the court has a limited role of verifying the plea and dispensation of punishment,” she said. The police too was found satisfied with the new concept.
“It is really a welcoming initiative and would help in reducing pressure from long-pending cases through mediation and help in bringing back faith on judiciary,” remarked additional SP Arvind Saxena, who was part of Plea Bargaining on police behalf.
ALSO KNOWN as plea agreement, Plea Bargaining is an agreement in criminal cases in which a prosecutor and defendant arrange to settle the case against the defendant.
The defendant agrees to plead guilty or not contest in exchange for some agreement from the prosecutor as to the punishment.
Much in vogue in the United States, it was introduced in India by amending the Code of Criminal Procedure in 2006, to reduce the backlog of cases in Indian courts.
Offenses affecting the socio-economic condition of the country and those committed against a woman or a child are excluded from its jurisdiction.