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  • Paras Sharma

Plea bargaining-A gleaming to expeditious justice

Written by: Prakamya Maheshwari & Nikhil Sood, Students, Lloyd Law College, Greater Noida, U.P.



It would be wrong to assume that the concept of plea Bargaining found favor of courts only in the recent past. It is used in the American Judiciary in the 19th century itself. The bill of Rights makes no mention of the practice when establishing the fair trial principle in the sixth amendment but the constitutionality of the plea Bargaining had constantly been upheld there. In the 1920s in America, the criminal trials faced the most time-consuming process because they have to choose a jury and the jury selection process then the complexities of the jury this whole process was very time-consuming. So, the plea of bargaining was approved by the Supreme Court of the U.S and it was immensely impactful now in America more than 90% of cases are not even tried, majority of the perpetrators give up their constitutional right and plead guilty. Every minute the case is disposed of in America by the plea of bargaining, that’s why there are fewer pending cases in America compared to our Indian justice system. This can be competently understood by the given below English case law:-

Case law- Santobello v. New York, 404 U.S. 257(1971)

The petitioner and the prosecutor had an agreement by that petitioner withdrew his past not guilt-plea of the two felony offenses and pleaded guilty to a lesser offense. The prosecutor agreed with no recommendation to sentence. After months at the appearance of the petitioner, the new prosecutor recommended the maximum sentence. The petitioner failed to withdraw the plea of guilt and his conviction was further affirmed on appeal. The court held that the promise made by the prosecutor to the petitioner the connected with the plea of bargaining, the past judgment should be vacated and the case to be remanded to the State court for further consideration of the specific performance of the agreement, or he should be afforded with relief he gets for withdrawing his plea of guilt.

Plea of bargaining:

A new chapter came in Cr.P.C (Code Of Criminal Procedure, 1973) after the criminal law amendment act, 2005 w.e., 5th July. Chapter XXI A was inserted after the amendment. Plea of bargaining is a method by which the perpetrator accepts the guilt and bargains before the court for lenient punishment. It is a pre-trial procedure. It is applicable for imprisonment for up to 7 years and to the offenses they do not affect the socio-economic condition of the country. Moreover, it does not apply in the case of offenses against women, children below the age of 14 years, and the socio-economic crimes. In layman’s language, it is a give and takes procedure.

In our legal system, people face a lot of problems as the trials take a lot of time, the cases take a huge amount of time for the disposition of the case. If we talk about the victim if the victim has lost someone because of the perpetrator and he was the only person who earns in their family and the perpetrator is further convicted and imprisoned that will not be helpful for the victim our legal system should ask the victim what he wants for justice and then the exact justice will prevail.

Further, it will help the victim to get justice soon, the victim does not have to face the agony and it will consume less time also the victim will be saved from getting agonized.

The distinction between the plea of guilt and the plea of bargaining:

Plea of guilt is a judicial process, which is taken place in the court in which the accused accept his guilt of the wrongdoing, and held liable then sanctioned with punishment by the judge. In the scenario of the plea of bargaining, there is an agreement between the petitioner and the defendant as to the terms of guilty of plea and further the bargaining of the punishment to take place.

There are by and large three types of the plea of bargaining:

  • Sentence Bargaining: In this bargain, the defendant agrees and gets leniency in punishment.

  • ChargeBargaining: It is frequent in criminal trails. The defendant consent the guilt in consideration of fewer charges.

  • Fact Bargaining: In this bargain, the defendant agrees on certain facts, and in return, he prevents other facts as evidence.

Plea of bargaining first case- Sakharam Bandekar case he was an employee in RBI and he was accused of siphoning off Rs 1.48 crore as he had issued vouchers against invented names since 1993-1997 and transferred the money to the personal account. He was arrested by the CBI, he further pleaded in the court for the plea of bargaining. The court rejected his plea and further his imprisonment was continued.

Case law – Kasambhai Abdulrehman Sheikh v. State of Gujarat AIR 1980 SC 854

In this case, the appellants were prosecuted for committing offenses under section 16 (1) (a) (i) r/w section 7 of the prevention of Food Adulteration Act, 1954. After some time the plea of bargaining took place among the prosecutor, the accused, and the Magistrate. The Magistrate accepted the plea of bargaining. Further, the High court took the Suo Motu of the case and rejected the plea of bargaining as the opinion of the high court was that this plea of bargaining is the step towards corruption of the justice legal system since the plea of bargaining will not lead the trial go for long and also the justice legal system is a sacred legal system and the food adulteration is a serious offense as it perils the life people which is violating of article 21 of the Indian Constitution.

Case law- Murlidhar Mehraj Loya v. State of Maharashtra AIR 1976 SC 1929

This case is too linked with the food adulteration, and section 16(1) (a), section 7, section 44 of Food Adulteration Act, 1954 was applied and the court held that the plea of bargaining is a formal incentive. It will lead to the falsification and intrigue of justice. Further, it will infringe people’s interests and citizen’s self-esteem.


Plea of bargaining plays a vital role in all over the world as it originates from America and the main fact on which the plea of bargaining applied is whether the plea of guilty is voluntarily made or made involuntarily with coercion this question must be raised in the court of U.S. it is unavoidable. Plea of Bargaining a bargain in an ingenious way, a ray of speedy justice in our Indian Legal System. Primarily this bargain should be voluntary and free from coercion. Our society is not victim-centric, the wealthy people are safe then the lower class people of our society as those wealthy people with enormous power can easily coerce someone to do something which the other person doesn’t want to, so the foremost thing of this bargaining it must be free from coercion and it must be voluntary. Secondarily the people, the prosecutor, the defense and the judiciary of our legal system should perceive that plea of bargaining can play a vital role in our justice legal system rather inducing corruption, as our legal system is the one in which numerous cases are pending or are still under trial which leads the delay of justice and in this process, the client entirely agonizes. Justice should be made as to what the victim wants, what can satisfy his inner conscience. He shall be asked whether he wants the accused to suffer from the retributive punishment or the deterrent punishment or he wants compensation. So here the plea of bargaining plays a vital role as it will save the client from getting agonized and also it helps in the speedy disposing of the case which will further reduce the pendency of the case and actual justice will prevail as it will satisfy the victims' inner conscience because our administration of justice partakes the divine function. Everything has its pros and cons but this should not be the reason to reject a speedy method of justice. It can be enhanced by numerous expatiated methods and discussions.


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