What is Plea Bargaining
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On receipt of an application for Plea Bargaining, the Metropolitan Magistrate will scrutinize it and if it is in order, he or she will send to Plea Bargaining Magistrate through office of Chief Metropolitan Magistrate at Tis Hazari Court complex and office of ACMM at Karkardooma Court Complex. The application will be taken up for consideration by the Plea Bargain Magistrate as soon as possible and in any event on the next working day.


Where does the Plea Bargain Magistrate hold a sitting?

The Plea Bargain Magistrate will initially be available in Room No. 238, (2nd Floor), Tis Hazari Courts, Delhi on all working days between 10.00 pm to 5.00 pm and in Room No-67 Block -B, fourth floor at Karkardooma Court Complex between 2.00pm to 5.00pm


What will the Plea Bargain Magistrate do on receipt of such an application?

The Plea Bargain Magistrate will consider the application and issue notice to the Investigating Officer in the case, the Public Prosecutor, the victim of the offence (if any) and the complainant. Whenever necessary, if it is found that the applicant/accused is not represented by a lawyer, he will be provided the services of a free legal aid lawyer.


After all the concerned parties receive the notice, what is the first step to be


Preferably, before meeting the Plea Bargain Magistrate at time fixed in response to the notice, all the parties concerned in the Plea Bargain should try to arrive at a settlement in consultation with the Public Prosecutor. If it is not possible to reach a settlement in advance, the Plea Bargain Magistrate will assist the parties in arriving at an amicable settlement.


What is the next step required to be taken?

If an amicable settlement is not arrived at, the Plea Bargain Magistrate will duly inform the Chief Metropolitan Magistrate / ACMM concerned. Failed proceeding are kept in the Plea Bargaining centre. However, if a Plea Bargain is being arrived at :

  • The Plea Bargain Magistrate will have an in camera or Private discussion with the
  • applicant in the presence of his lawyer to determine
  • Whether the Plea Bargain is voluntary,
  • Whether the Plea Bargain is acceptable to the applicant,
  • Whether the applicant has understood the meaning and effect of the Plea Bargain.

If the Plea Bargain Magistrate is satisfied that the Plea Bargain meets all the legal requirements, he will accept it and pass an order disposing of the case in terms of the settlement and inform the Chief Metropolitan Magistrate / ACMM concerned accordingly.

  • All the parties to the Plea Bargain are required to sign the order recording the settlement.


Are the Plea Bargain proceedings confidential?

Yes, the entire Plea Bargain proceedings are absolutely confidential. If the Plea Bargain fails, then no party can use anything said in the Plea Bargain proceedings in the pending criminal case. Even the trial Judge will not ask any question about the Plea Bargain proceedings.


How long does it take to dispose of a Plea Bargain application?

The Plea Bargain Magistrate will make every effort to dispose of a Plea Bargain application as soon as all the parties appear before him. In any event, if no settlement is reached within sixty (60) days, the application will be returned to the Chief Metropolitan Magistrate ACMM Concerned and thereafter the criminal case will proceed quickly.


Can Plea Bargain application be withdrawn?

Yes, a Plea Bargain application can be withdrawn at any time before all the parties to the Plea Bargain sign the settlement.


Can an accused make more than one application for a Plea Bargain?

Yes, an accused can make more than one application for Plea Bargain. The applicant must, however, realize that greater the delay in making an application for Plea Bargain, it will be more difficult to arrive at an amicable settlement. It is, therefore, advisable to accept the bargain at the time of making the first Plea Bargain application.


What is the sentence that will be awarded on the acceptance of Plea Bargain application?

This will depend on the nature of the offence and no definite answer can be given.  But the options are :

being put on probation under the Probation of Offenders Act, 1958,

a fine or a compensatory amount,

period of custody already undergone,

custody upto a maximum of one-fourth (1/4) or one-half (1/2) the period of imprisonment provided by law, as the case may be.

An applicant will be entitled to set off the period of detention undergone against the sentence of imprisonment.


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