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Understanding our Criminal Justice System

Glossary & Word Origin

Accused: The person who is tried by a court for a crime. Cognizable: Offence for which police may arrest a person without the permission of the court. Cross-examine: Questioning of a witness who has already been examined by the opposing side, in order
to determine the reality of his/her testimony.

Detention: The act of being kept in illegal custody by the police. Impartial: The act being fair by not favouring onside over another. Offence: Any act that the law defines as a crime. Witness: The person who is called upon in court to provide a real account of what he/she has seen, heard
or knows.

Role of Police

The police needs to investigate any complaint about the commission of a crime. An investigation should include recording statements of witnesses and collecting different kinds of

On the basis of the investigation, the police should form an opinion. If the police think that the evidence points prove that the accused person is guilty, then they file a
charge sheet in the court.

The police has the role in investigation of the crime, but no role in deciding whether a person is
guilty or not (it is the job of the judge).

First Information Report (FIR)

The police begin their investigation by registering a First Information Report (FIR) about the crime. The law states that it is compulsory for an officer-in-charge of a police station to register FIR
whenever a person gives information about a cognizable offence.

The person gives the information to the police either orally or by writing. The FIR usually mentions the date, time and place of the offense, details of the basic facts of the
offence, including description of the events.

If known, the identity of the accused person and witnesses are also mentioned. The FIR also states the name and address of the complainant. The complainant also has a legal right to get a free copy of the FIR from the police.
Fundamental Rights granted to the arrested person

Article 22 of the constitution and the criminal law grants fundamental rights to the arrested person.
The Right to Information: A person has the right to know the offense for which he is being arrested at the time of the arrest. The Right to Presentation: A person has the right to be presented before the magistrate within 24 hours of his arrest.

Rivivo Edunext 2014.

The Right to non-ill treatment or non-torture: A person has the right to be not tortured or ill-treated by the police during the arrest or in custody.

Confessions made in police custody cannot be used as evidence against the accused.
Role of Public Prosecutor

A Criminal offence is regarded as a public wrong. It is considered to have been committed not only against the victims but against society as a

The victims are advocated by the state, by a Public Prosecutor who represents the interests of
the state.

The role of the Public prosecutor begins after the police conducts investigation and files a
charge sheet in the court.

A Public prosecutor has no role in investigating the crime. The prosecutor must conduct the trial on behalf of the state. As an officer of the court, it is his/her duty to act impartially and present the full and material
evidences, facts and witnesses before the court to enable the court to decide the case.

Role of the Judge

The judge conducts the trail impartially and in an open court. The judge hears all the witnesses and other evidence presented by the prosecution and the defence. The judge decides whether the accused person is guilty or not on the basis of the evidences
presented and in accordance with the law.

If the accused is found guilty, the judge says the judgement; he may send the accused to jail or
impose a fine or both, depending upon what the law prescribes.

Fair Trail

For a fair trial, several different procedures have to be conducted. Article 21 of the Constitution that guarantees Right to Life states a persons life or liberty can be
taken only by following reasonable and legal procedures.

First the accused must be given a copy of the charge sheet and all other evidence that the
prosecution presented against him/her.

The trail must be held in open court in the presence of the accused, in public view. The accused should be defended by a lawyer who should be given an opportunity to crossexamine all the prosecution witnesses.

The defending lawyer also is given an opportunity to present witnesses defending the accused. It is the responsibility of the prosecution to prove that the accused is guilty beyond a
reasonable doubt. If the prosecution fails to do so the accused shall be assumed as Innocent.

It is important that the judge decides the judgement only on the basis of the evidence before
the court.
2 Rivivo Edunext 2014.