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Why Judges Break The Nib of Their Pen After Passin...

Ever since the British Raj, it's customary for Indian judges to snap the nib after a death sentence has been proclaimed. However, it's doubtful as to how many people are aware of the purpose of or reason behind the custom. There are several reasons for a judge resorting to such action after passing the judgment.Why this practice is in effect in courtrooms?There is symbolism in the breaking of the nib of a pen and the message conveyed through this symbolic act is that the pen that was used to decree capital punishment would never be used to decree similar punishment ever again.   Fundamentally, a death sentence in India is an extreme action taken as a response to radical anti-social activities that are unresolvable otherwise.  The symbolism of a broken nib of a pen is that the pen is tainted by the judge decreeing that a person be thrown to the gallows so to speak intends to get rid of it by snapping the nib. Judges probably snap the nib of a pen that they use to sign a person’s life away so as to distance himself/herself from the guilt feeling of decreeing capital punishment. Judges can neither review nor revoke once the judgment is in writing and has been signed. Hence, the nib is snapped to prevent the judge from having any second thoughts about his/her own judgment. It's sad to throw someone to the gallows or take someone’s life also known as capital punishment, but it's necessary occasionally and snapping the nib of the pen used to decree the death sentence is an expression of grief. A death sentence is a capital punishment that breaks the heart of a judge signing someone’s life away. Hence the symbolic snapping of the nib of the pen used by the judge to proclaim the death sentence as an expression of sorrow and guilt feeling.Click here to connect to Vidhikarya’s registered expert criminal lawyers for further legal advice in this regard. 

Posted By

Avik Chakravorty

1 month ago

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27 Stages Of Criminal Cases In India Under Crimina...

27 Stages Of Criminal Cases In India Under Criminal Procedure Code, 1973 A. Pre-trial stage B. Trial stage C. Post-trial stage Now, each stage requires some steps to be fulfilled they are :  A. Pre-trial Stage 1. Commission of an offence (cognizable or non cognizable) 2. A. Information to police. B. Complaint to magistrate. A. Information to police : a. Information of cognizable offence. b. Information of non cognizable offence. a. Information of cognizable offence : Under Section 154 of the Code of Criminal Procedure, a FIR or First Information Report is registered. FIR puts the case into motion. A FIR is information given by someone (aggrieved) to the police relating to the commitment of an offense. b. Information of non cognizable offence : In case of non cognizable offence N.C.R (non cognizable report) is registered by police under section 155 of Cr.P.C. but the police cannot start investigation or arrest the accused without the order of a Magistrate having power to try such case. B. Complaint to magistrate - Section 2 (d) of the Code of Criminal Procedure defines the term 'complaint as any allegation made orally or in writing to a Magistrate, with a view to his taking action under this Code, that some person, whether known or unknown, has committed an offence, but does not include a police report. On receipt of a complaint a Magistrate has several courses open to him. He may take cognizance of the offence and proceed to record the statements of the complainant and the witnesses present under Section 200, Cr Thereafter if in his opinion there is no sufficient ground for proceeding he may dismiss the complaint under Section 203, Cr PC. If in his opinion there is sufficient ground for proceeding he may issue process under Section 204, Cr PC. However, if he thinks fit, he may postpone the issue of process and either inquire into the case himself or direct an investigation to be made by a police officer or such other person as he thinks fit for the purpose of deciding whether or not there is sufficient ground for proceeding (Section 202, Cr PC). He may then issue process if in his opinion there is sufficient ground for proceeding or dismiss the complaint if there is no sufficient ground for proceeding. 3. Investigation by Police :- Police conduct investigation for 1)  For collection of evidence; 2)  Interrogation statement of accused; 3) Statement of witnesses; 4)  Scientific analysis / opinion if required. During this time, at any stage decided by investigating agency, accused persons can be arrested. In case of cognizable offence police can start investigation after the registration of FIR, no prior approval of magistrate is necessary. But in case of non cognizable offence, prior approval of magistrate is necessary to start investigation. 4. Anticipatory Bail :- Upon registration of FIR for cognizable criminal offence the accused may make an application for anticipatory bail in session court or high court. If anticipatory bail is granted then the accused cannot be arrested. If anticipatory bail is rejected then the accused can be arrested without warrant. 5. Arrest of the Accused :- In case of cognizable offence police can arrest the accused without warrant. However in case of non cognizable offence prior approval of magistrate is necessary. 6. Production of accused to magistrate :- Within 24 hours of the arrest the accused shall be produced before a magistrate having jurisdiction to try such cases. 7. Remand :- Whenever an accused is arrested for any offence and police cannot complete investigation within 24 hours then such person is produced before a magistrate for seeking extension of police or magisterial custody. 8. After investigation is completed:- If investigating agency feels a prima facie case is made out, charge sheet is filed in Court through the public prosecutor. If police feels that no prima facie case is made out, a final report filed in Court. 9. Cognizance of Offence by Magistrate :- After filling of charge sheet the next stage is taking cognizance of offence by magistrate under section 190 of the Criminal Procedure Code. In the language of the Hon'ble Apex Court employed in its earliest decision R.R.Chari v. State of U.P AIR 1951 SC 207 “taking cognizance does not involve any formal action or indeed action of any kind but occurs as soon as a Magistrate as such applies his mind to the suspected commission of offence" 10. Service of summons/warrant to accused and Process to compel appearance under chapter 6 of Cr.P.C. 11. Appearance of accused before court & engagement of advocate. 12. Filing bail application/ furnishing surety. 13. Decision is taken by the Court after hearing the public prosecutor and the counsel for defence: A. On question of Charge sheet: a. Court can reject charge sheet, in which case the accused is discharged. Or, b. Court can accept that a prima facie case is made out, frame the charges, and post the case for trial. Case goes to next stage. a. Court can accept the final report- case is closed and accused is discharged. Or, b. Court can reject the final report, and direct the police to further investigate the case. Case goes back to the Stage of investigation. Or, c. If the Court direct the case to be posted for trial. Case goes to next stage. 14. Framing Of Charge :- After considering the police report and other important documents the accused is not discharged then the court frames charges under which he is to be trialed.  15. Conviction on plea of guilty :- If the accused pleads guilty, the court shall record the plea and may, at discretion convicts the accused. 16. If the accused pleads not guilty. Case is posted for trial. B. Trial stage 17. Commencement of trial - Generally speaking trial of a case commences when the case is posted for examination of witnesses. Trial may be - a. Sessions trial b. Warrant trial c. Summons trial d. Summary trial 18. Prosecution evidence:- After the charges are framed, and the accused pleads guilty, then the court requires the prosecution to produce evidence to prove the guilt of the accused. The prosecution is required to support their evidence with statements from its witnesses. This process is called "examination in chief". The magistrate has the power to issue summons to any person as a witness or orders him to produce any document. 19. Statement of the accused:- Section 313 of the Criminal Procedure Code gives an opportunity to the accused to be heard and explain the facts and circumstances of the case. The statements of accused are not recorded under oath and can be used against him in the trial. 20. Defence evidence:- An opportunity is given to the accused in a case where he is not being acquitted to produce so as to defend his case. The defense can produce both oral and documentary evidence. In India, since the burden of proof is on the prosecution the defense, in general, is not required to give any defense evidence. 21. Final Arguments:- Public Prosecutor and the defence counsel present their arguments. 22. Judgment and sentence by the Court:- The final decision of the court with reasons given in support of the acquittal or conviction of the accused is known as judgment. 23. Arguments on sentence:- When the accused is convicted, then both sides are invited to give arguments on the punishment which is to be awarded. This is usually done when the person is convicted of an offense whose punishment is life imprisonment or capital punishment. However when the sentence is pronounced in a summons case, the parties need not argue on the amount of punishment given. The sentence is the sole discretion of the judge. 24. Judgment of Court passing sentence:- After the arguments on sentence, the court finally decides what should be the punishment for the accused. While punishing a person, the courts consider various theories of punishment like reformative theory of punishment and deterrent theory of punishment. Court also considers the age, background and history of an accused and the judgment is pronounced accordingly. C. Post-Trial Stage 25. Appeal (within specified period of limitation)/Revision :- Appeal can be filed by party aggrieved by judgment on acquittal / conviction /sentence. On notice being issued to the opposite parties, arguments are placed before Appellate court by defence counsel and the public prosecutor. Or, Revision Application : Where there is right of appeal provided but no appeal was filed then in its discretion the Sessions Court or the High Court can entertain a revision to prevent miscarriage of Justice occurred by the orders of the lower court. 26. Judgment of the Appellate Court or Court having revisional jurisdiction. 27. Execution of Sentence.  

Posted By

ASHISH SAMAL

1 month ago

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  • What is criminal law?
  • What is law of criminal procedure in India?
  • What are the objectives of criminal law?
  • Is there any specific jurisdiction for criminal cases in India?

What is criminal law?


Procedural laws prescribe procedure for the enforcement of rights and liabilities. Effect of substantive laws to a large extent depends on the quality of procedural laws. The governing law for Criminal Procedural Laws is the ‘Code of Criminal Procedure, 1973’.

“A procedural law is always sought in aid of justice, not in contradiction or to defeat the very object which is sought to be achieved. A procedural law is always subservient to the substantive law. Nothing can be given by a procedural law what is not sought to be given by a substantive law and nothing can be taken away by the procedural law what is given by the substantive law.” – SC in Saiyad Mohd Bakar v. Abdulhabib Hasan (1998) 4 SCC 343 at p. 349.

Some features of the Code of Criminal Procedure, 1973:


  • This act is applicable to whole of India except the state of Jammu & Kashmir
  • As per Section 6 of Code of Criminal Procedure 1973, Besides the Supreme Court, High Courts and the Courts constituted under any law, other than this Code, there shall be, in every State, the following classes of Criminal Courts, namely-
    • Courts of Session
    • Judicial Magistrate of the first class and, in any Metropolitan area, Metropolitan Magistrate
    • Judicial Magistrate of the second class
    • Executive Magistrates
  • Functionaries under the Code of Criminal Procedure 1973 are the Police, Prosecutors, Defence Counsels, and Prison Authorities and Correctional Services Personnel
  • Code of Criminal Procedure 1973 distinguishes recognises Cognizable & Non-Cognizable Offences-
    • Cognizable offences means offences for which, a police officer may, in accordance with the first schedule or under any other law for the time being in force, arrest without warrant.
    • Non-cognizable offences means offences for which, and ‘non-cognizable case’ means a case in which, a police officer has no authority to arrest without warrant.
  • As per the case of Lalita Kumari v. Govt. of UP, 2014, a police officer is bound to register an FIR relating to a cognizable offence.
  • Code of Criminal Procedure 1973 classifies all criminal cases into summons cases and warrant cases-
    • Warrants Case refers to a case relating to an offence punishable with death, imprisonment for life, or imprisonment for term exceeding two years
    • Summons Case refers to a case relating to an offence, and not being a warrant case
  • As per Section 304 of Code of Criminal Procedure 1973, there is a right to legal aid at the expense of the State.
  • The principle of Double Jeopardy is recognised in Section 300 of Code of Criminal Procedure 1973

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