These notes have been contributed by Dicholkar Manasi Hemant, Symbiosis Law School, Hyderabad

Section 353 -365 of CrPC, 1973 deals with Judgement.

What is a Judgment ?

It is not defined under CrPC. But It can be called as the final determination or decision by the court.

There are three authorities which are competent to decide an issue-

  1. Administrative authority – Their decisions are known as orders and not judgment.
  2. Quasi-Judicial authority – Their decisions are also known as orders.
  3. Judicial – Their final decision is known as judgment.

What constitutes a judgment?

A final reasoned decision by a court(Civil & Criminal). In the case of criminal court, when the court passes its decision after the examination of both the parties is known as Judgment.

Elements of Judgment –

  1. Judgment is the final decision of criminal court.
  2. Such a decision shall be made only after the trial and hearing the argument of the parties.
  3. There are two possibilities of a judgment given by a criminal court. There may be the acquittal of the accused or his conviction. But after the judgment of conviction, the court may pass a post-conventional order.

Form of contents of Judgment

  1. Judgment shall be in writing.
  2. Judgment shall be written in the language of the court as decided by the state government (Generally in English and not in the language of the parties).
  3. Judgment shall be signed by the presiding officer of the court. It must be dated.
  4. The judgment must be under the seal of the court.
  5. The judgment must state the offense specifically and the section of the law under which he is charged tried and acquitted or convicted by the court.
  6. If the judgment is of acquittal, It shall state the offense, section of the law under which accused is charged & tried and it must also state a direction( to set the accused free with immediate effect).
  7. A Judgment in criminal court must be in open court and in the presence of the accused. If the judgment is of acquittal, there is a direction “set the accused free” which means he is acquitted from the case and not offense. Acquittal from offense is only when there is acquittal by the apex court.
  8. If the judgment is given by the metropolitan magistrate, it need not be elaborate but in abridged form, because in areas other than metropolitan there are different and several courts. But in metropolitan areas, the burden is only on the metropolitan magistrate. (Section 355).
  9. The judgment must state point/points for determination, the decision and reason for such decision
  • The court has a limited role in determining the guilt of the accused, it never examines the evidence beyond facts. It should state points or reasons for such a conclusion.
  • Judgment should be based on the conclusion made.
  • Only when a decision is supported by reasons it becomes Judgment.

10. In case of offenses, punishable with alternative punishments, like in the case of murder, the judgment shall state the reasons if the court decides to impose alternative punishments of imprisonment for life/ imprisonment for a term. If the court decide to impose the death penalty, the judgment shall state special reasons for such impositions.

Reasons and Special reasons Intentia legis or intention of the legislation , Because of the legislation intended to give preference to imprisonment for term/life. However, in exceptional cases, Death sentences should be given.

Case Laws related to Capital Punishment –

  • Ediga Anmamma Vs. State of Andhra Pradesh
  • Bachchan Singh Vs. State of Punjab
  • Macchi Singh Vs. State of Punjab

R venkalu Vs. State of Hyderabad, 1956 – The accused took the victim to an isolated place and locked her and threw the key in open land. When people came to save her, he stopped them. In this clear intention of murder was observed by the court and the court gave capital punishment and the court said that it comes under the rarest of rare cases, where the accused showed extreme culpability.

In offenses like murder, etc. the section isn’t interpreted litera script ( interpreting as it is) but is interpreted as Intentia legis (intention of the legislation).

11. The judgment of conviction of the death penalty shall state the mode of execution of such imposition. For example- Mode of execution of death penalty in India is hanging by the neck until the convict is dead.

12. In case the offense is punishable with an imprisonment of 1 year or above but the sentence by the court is less than 3 months. The judgment shall contain the reasons for such mere imposition.

Potential Short answers questions

  • Post- Convictional order ( Section 360) – It says that the court may pass certain kinds of orders upon the conviction of the accused, resulting in the release of the convict, suspending his conviction. As the orders under section 360, post the conviction of the convict, they are called post- convictional orders.

The following are two important kinds of orders under section 360 of crpc-

  1. Release after due admonition – If according to the report of the probation officer, the court feels that it is a petty offense and he is a man of good conduct. Then the court will release him after admonishing him. It is a permanent let off.
  2. Release on Probation – It is a temporary suspension. The accused or the convict has to prove that he is a man of good conduct, During the probation period, he is under the supervision of the probation officer.
  • Victim Compensation ( Section 357 & 357 A ) – In addition to the conviction of the convict, he should also compensate the victim. Section 357A was inserted by the 2008 Amendment act, It is the duty of the state to lay down a scheme(Victim compensation scheme). The scope of this section was widened in the 2013 Amendment Act.

In section 357, The convict pays the compensation and under Section 357 A, the state compensates the victim.

Section 357- When the court imposes the death penalty, it may also direct the convict to pay compensation to the victim. For Example, In the Salman Khan case, He was directed to pay compensation of 19 lakhs in addition to punishment. At times, the court may also direct the convict to pay the cost of conviction. If the complaint is frivolous under section 358, the court may direct the complainant to compensate the accused.

Further, a new provision Section 357 A has been inserted to crpc, providing for the following after the Criminal Amendment Act,2008-

  1. Payment of compensation to the victim or its dependants under the victim compensation scheme.
  2. Duty of the state government to lay down the victim compensation scheme in consultation with the central government.
  3. Determination of the victim compensation payable by the government either by the direction of the court or by an application of the victim or its dependants.
  4. Determination of the payment of victim compensation shall be determined by the Legal service authority.

Principles laid down by the Supreme court on the imposition of death penalty Section 354(3) – In case of offenses like murder, where the punishments are prescribed alternatively, it may impose any one of the prescribed punishment. Either life or term imprisonment or the death penalty. During imposition, the court shall prefer life or term imprisonment than the death penalty.

Case Law- Ediga Anmamma Vs. State of Andhra Pradesh AIR 174 SC 799 – The supreme court has laid down the principle of the imposition of penalty in cases of murder. The court shall prefer the imposition of imprisonment for life or a term over capital punishment. Further, the supreme court held that it is obligatory on the court to record special reasons if it decides to impose the death sentence.

According to Section 354(3) Crpc 1973, the court upon finding the convict guilty may impose the death penalty alternatively life imprisonment/imprisonment for a term.

In the case Bachachan Singh Vs. State of Punjab (AIR 1980 SC pg. 898 ) – In this case, 2 issues were raised, Whether the imposition of the death penalty under Section 254(3) is valid or not?

What are the exceptional circumstances as mentioned in the case of Ediga Anmamma?

SC held that the imposition of the death penalty shall be in the rarest of rare cases i.e, in very limited cases. Further, the Supreme Court has laid down the rules in which circumstances the court may impose the death penalty falling under the rarest of rare cases.

  1. Where the offense of murder has been committed with extreme culpability of the offender.
  2. The court shall consider extreme causes of the crime and the circumstances forcing the offender to commit the crime.
  3. The court shall drop a balance sheet of aggravating and mitigating factor and the court should always go in the favor of mitigating factors and decide the punishment accordingly.

In the case of Machichi Singh Vs. State of Punjab [AIR 1983 SC Pg. No.957]- The Supreme Court has laid down the rules mentioned in the Bachchan Singh Case, more particularly aggravating and mitigating factors to be considered by the court while imposing the death penalty.

  • Aggravating factor – Where it is found that murder was pre-planned and committed with extreme brutality. It should be cold-blooded.
  • Mitigating factor – There is no death penalty in cases with mitigating factors. The mitigating factor means the offender has committed the offense under the extreme influence of either mental or emotional disturbance i.e, the state of mind of the accused is very important.

Insanity under IPC is a valid exception. However, legal insanity is taken into consideration and not medical insanity.

Case Law- R Vs. Mc Naughton (1843) 8 E.R. 718 – Following points were determined by the court –

  • According to section 84 of IPC, only if it is permanent insanity, it is an exception, temporary insanity is only a mitigating factor.
  • Age of offender is also important ( Extreme tender age or extreme old age).
  • Chance of reformation or rehabilitation of the offender. The object of punishment is the reformation, rehabilitation, and integration of the offender.
  • No chances of the repetition of the crime or its continuity.
  • Where the offender at the time of committing the offense reasonably believed that he was morally justified in killing the deceased. The reasonableness must be accepted by the court. For example – Private Defense.
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