Criminal Procedure Code (CrPC): Complying Principles of Natural Justice

The Code of Criminal Procedure is also called the criminal procedure code (CrPC). This code was enacted in 1973 and came into force on April 1, 1974.

The criminal procedure code provides a mechanism for conducting trials in a criminal case. It gives the procedure for registering a complaint, conducting a trial and passing an order, and filing an appeal against any order.

The main objective of this code is to provide a fair opportunity to an accused person to conduct a fair trial according to the principle of natural justice.

The provisions of this code are to regulate the procedure for arrest and investigation, inquiry and trial of an offence under any law governing criminal offences in the court of law.

This code contains 484 sections under 37 chapters.

CRPC does not supersede any particular law or any local law or powers or procedure directed by any such law.

Application of the Criminal Procedure Code

The criminal procedure code (CrPC) applies to India and administers criminal law in India.

It’s a machinery for defining procedures for determining the guilt or innocence of a person and collecting evidence.

It also defines jurisdiction in certain offences like offences committed by juveniles and also deals with public nuisance, maintenance of wife, children and parents.

It also describes the powers and jurisdiction of the courts and the offences triable by them.

Objectives of Criminal procedure code (CrPC)

The code of criminal procedure laid down some objectives. These are:-

  1. The main aim of this code is to provide an opportunity for a fair trial to the accused person according to the principle of natural justice.
  2. To ensure a fair trial for both the accused and the victim without curtailing anyone’s rights.
  3. To achieve a fair adjudication process by laying criteria for admissibility of evidence.
  4. To prevent delaying the investigation and trial process.
  5. To ensure attendance of any person concerned with a case with the various available measures like warrant, summons, attachment of property, proclamation, etc.
  6. To lay down the criminal justice system’s functioning procedure from the stage of investigation till conviction and the process for appeal.
  7. To explain the organisation of criminal courts in India.
  8. To explain the role and powers of police and other authorities in the investigation and trial process.
  9. To explain the powers and jurisdiction of courts in the criminal judicial system.

Features of CrPC (Criminal Procedure Code)

There are some salient features of the criminal procedure code. These are:-

  • Fair trial: Every person is entitled to a fair trial process, and every person is entitled to a hearing by an independent and impartial court of law.

    No one should judge his cause or in the matter in which he got an interest, and it gets based on the ‘Nemo judex in causa sua’ principle, which is the rule against bias.

    An accused is presumed innocent until he is proven guilty. All the accused has the right to be represented by the counsel of his choice.

    All the accused are entitled to a fair hearing process, and the ex-parte order should not get passed without hearing them. It gets based on the principle of ‘Audi alteram partem’.

  • Judicial Magistrates are under the purview of High Courts: All the Judicial Magistrates are under the purview of the High Courts of the concerned states. The Judicial Magistrates posted in Metropolitan cities are known as Metropolitan Magistrates.

    The governor appoints a first-class judicial magistrate in consultation with the public service commission and the high courts.

    The high courts are empowered to appoint a first-class judicial magistrate as a chief judicial magistrate in every district of a respective state.

    The high courts also can appoint additional chief metropolitan magistrates or metropolitan magistrates for a metropolitan court.

  • The organisation of the Criminal Courts in India: The Criminal Procedure Code (CrPC) provides for setting up a uniform set of criminal courts throughout the territory of India by conferring jurisdiction, powers and functions on them for its smooth functioning.

    It mandates the separation of judiciary from the influence of legislature and executive, which helps the judicial machinery work independently and impartially without interfering with any other organs of the State.

  • Provisions for the aid of the accused person- Any accused person can avail of the free legal aid services if the accused person is not in a state to afford litigation financially.

    In petty cases, the accused can plead guilty and deposit the fine by post specified in the summons without appearing in person before the court.

    An accused person has the right to get medically examined to aid him further in the case in his defence.

  • Trial Procedure- The Procedure for trial will be the same as in both summary cases and summons cases except otherwise.

    The Sessions court has the power to exercise the revisional jurisdiction and the High Courts.

    Offences punishable with death, life imprisonment and imprisonment exceeding two years will be considered as warrant cases while,

    Offences punishable with fewer than two years imprisonment will get considered as summons cases. The court of law is also empowered to punish a person on the spot found guilty of perjury.

  • Duty of the Police- A police officer must register an FIR upon receiving a complaint about a request. If he refuses to record FIR about the commission of the crime, the aggrieved person has a right to complain about it to the superintendent of the police.

Need of code of criminal procedure

The Criminal Procedure Code (CrPC) is the machinery to address the need of the criminal justice system and ensure an effortless judicial process by defining the functions of executive and judiciary, respectively.

The code of criminal procedure 1973 is the machinery which fulfilled the needs for:-

  1. Registration of a complaint and then an FIR
  2. Conducting Investigation of crime
  3. Apprehensions of suspected criminals
  4. Gathering of evidence
  5. Determining the guilt of the accused
  6. Determining the innocence of the accused person
  7. Determining punishment for the guilty person.

Organisations of Criminal Courts

Hierarchy in the Judicial system gets represented by the first and second class judicial magistrates, chief judicial magistrates, additional district judges and district judges.

All the magistrates deal with the issues of maintaining law and order and preventing crime. All the judicial magistrates function by being under the control of the high court.

The Criminal Procedure Code (CrPC) ensures the independence of the Judiciary from the legislature and executive. The judiciary is not under the control of any of the organs of the state.

The CrPC provides for a uniform set of courts in our criminal justice system throughout the territory of India by defining their jurisdictions, powers and functions.

The Supreme court and High courts are the constitutional courts of India with Jurisdiction, powers and functions.

The High Court can oversee the functioning of all the subordinate courts and tribunals in the concerned state.

Differences Between CrPC and IPC

The significant difference between CrPC and IPC is that IPC lays down the provisions for all the offences and punishments for committing those offences. In contrast, CrPC lays down the procedure followed in the investigation, trial and conviction of that offence.

IPC is substantive law, while CrPC is procedural law.

IPC aims to provide a penal code for punishment to the offenders, while CrPC seeks to make the penal code and other criminal laws more effective.

The Criminal Procedure Code (CrPC)provides for powers of courts and magistrates while IPC is silent on it.

CrPC lays down the procedure for framing of charge while IPC lays down the charges for the respective offences.

Need for Procedural Laws

There are many branches of law. The two essential branches of law are substantial law and procedural law. By procedural law, it means the course taken for the procedure of law, and substantive law talks about rights.

Meanwhile, procedural law mentions remedies. Salmond stated that The Law of Procedure is the branch of the law that governs the process of litigation, and it is a law of action. The Substantive Law relates not to the litigation process but the subject matter.

Definition: Procedural Law is that branch of law that prescribes methods for enforcing rights or obtaining redress for their invasion; machinery for carrying on a Suit.

Examples of Procedural laws in India

  • The Code of Civil Procedure, 1908;
  • Code of Criminal Procedure, 1973;
  • Indian Evidence Act, 1872;
  • Limitation Act, 1963;
  • The Court Fees Act 1870;
  • The Suits Valuation Act, 1887;

Procedural Law provides the rules with the help of ‘which law is enforced’, and it determines what facts constitute proof of a wrong.

The Procedural Law describes the methods and requirements of the application of remedies to violated rights.

The law provides for a mechanism for gathering evidence by police and judges, conducting searches, arrests, bail, and presenting evidence at trial and process of sentencing.

The law of action includes all civil or criminal legal proceedings.

Criminal Procedure Code 1973

The Full form of CrPC is Criminal Procedure Code. The Criminal Procedure Code (CrPC) is a procedural criminal law enacted for administering substantive law in India. The law enacted on 1st April 1973 provides the procedure for

  • The investigation of crime,
  • Apprehension of suspected criminals, evidence collection,
  • Determination of guilt or innocence of the person and
  • Determination of punishment of the accused person.
  • It also has provisions for public nuisance, prevention of offences and maintenance of wife, children and parents.

Essential Definitions in CrPC Bare Act

  • Bailable offence: Bailable offence means an offence described as bailable in the First Schedule of the Act. It also includes which is made bailable by any other law for the time being in force.
  • Cognisable offence: Cognizable offence means an offence for which, and “cognisable case” means a case in which a police officer may, following the First Schedule or under any other law for the time being in force, arrest without warrant.
  • High Court:
    1. Concerning any State, the High Court for that State;
    2. Concerning a Union territory to which the jurisdiction of the High Court for a State has been extended by law;
    3. Concerning any other Union territory, the highest Court of criminal appeal for that territory other than the Supreme Court of India.
  • Warrant-case: A case relating to an offence punishable with death, imprisonment for life or imprisonment for a term exceeding two years
  • Summons-case: A case relating to an offence and not being a warrant case

Major Provisions

Section 2(b) of CrPC

This section states the charge definition under the Criminal Procedure Code (CrPC).

It states “charge” includes any head of ‘charge’ when the charge contains more heads than one;

Explanation: For example, Anish murdered Bikash. He also committed house dwelling theft, robbery, grievous hurt, etc. In this case, the Magistrate charges the accused with these offences. These offences are known as heads of charges, and individually these are known as ‘charge’. It is mentioned in section 2(b) of the Act.

Contents of Charge

These content of charge get explained in section 211 of CrPc. Under this section following conditions needs to be met:-

  1. It must state the offence charged to the accused.
  2. The offence must be specified in the charge by name.
  3. The definition of the offence must get stated if it does not give any specific name.
  4. The Act and section of the Act regarding the offence committed must get mentioned in the charge.
  5. The charge shall be written in the language of the Court.

Section 6 CrPC

This section lays down the classification of courts having various jurisdictions other than high courts and other courts under this code. The following criminal courts are:-

(i) Courts of Session;

(ii) Judicial Magistrates of the first class and, in any metropolitan area, Metropolitan Magistrates;

(iii) Judicial Magistrates of the second class; and

(iv) Executive Magistrates.

Section 125 CrPC

Section 125 of the Criminal Procedure Code (CrPC) is India’s most controversial and discussed topic. The main essence of the provision is that any person who has sufficient means to maintain himself cannot deny maintenance to his wife, parents and children.

Supreme Court in the case of Mohd. Ahmed Khan v Shah Bano Begum delivered a judgment favouring Shah Bano (Aggrieved Muslim married woman) by providing maintenance to her.

Section 125 of CrPC: Provides provision for maintenance to:

  • Wives
  • Children
  • Parents

A person having sufficient is obliged to provide maintenance to:-

(a) his wife, unable to maintain herself, or

(b) his legitimate or illegitimate minor child, whether married or not, unable to maintain itself, or

(c) his legitimate or illegitimate child (not being a married daughter) who has attained majority when such child is, because of any physical or mental abnormality or injury unable to maintain itself, or

(d) his father or mother, unable to maintain himself or herself.

Eligibility for claiming maintenance

Section 125 of CrPC deals with the maintenance of wives, children and parents. According to Section 125(1), the following persons can claim maintenance.

  • Wife from his husband,
  • Legitimate or illegitimate minor child from his father,
  • Legitimate or illegitimate minor child (physical or mental abnormality) from his father, and
  • Father or mother from his son or daughter.

Grounds for claiming Maintenance for Women:

A wife can claim and receive maintenance from her husband in the below-stated conditions:

  • Divorced by her husband, or
  • She took divorced from her husband, and
  • She has not remarried, and
  • She is not able to support herself.

Muslim married women can also claim maintenance under the Criminal Procedure Code (CrPC) though they have a separate personal law for them (Muslim Women Protection of rights on Marriage Act).

Exceptions: A wife can not claim maintenance from her husband in the following conditions:

  • Wife is living in adultery, or
  • She declines to live with her husband without any valid reasons, or
  • Both Husband and wife are living separately by mutual consent.

Necessary provisions for granting maintenance

Some conditions to meet for claiming and granting maintenance:

  1. Sufficient means for maintenance must be there.
  2. Neglect or refusal to maintain after the demand for maintenance.
  3. The person claiming maintenance must not be able to maintain himself/herself.
  4. Quantum of maintenance depends on the standard of living.

Section 154 CrPC

Information in cognisable cases:

Every information relating to the commission of a cognisable offence,

If given orally to an officer in charge of a police station should be written by him or under his direction

Every such information should get signed by the person giving it

Such documented information should get entered in a book to keep such an officer in the prescribed form.


Section 154 (1) CrPC clarifies that any information relating to the performance of a cognisable offence, if given orally to an officer in charge of a police station, shall be lessened to writing by himself or under his direction. All such information, whether in writing or reduced to writing, shall be signed by the person who provides it.

Section 154 (3) CrPC illustrates that a complaint shall be given in writing or by post to the Superintendent of Police if any person gets oppressed by a refusal of an officer in charge of a police station to record the information.

The Superintendent of Police, after receiving such a complaint, if satisfied that such information discloses the commission of a cognisable offence, should either investigate the case himself or direct an investigation to be made by any police officer subordinate to him in the prescribed manner provided by this Code.

Section 155 CrPC

Information as to non-cognizable cases and investigation of such cases.—

  1. When information is given to an officer in charge of a police station of the commission within the limits of such station of a non-cognizable offence, he must enter or cause to be entered the substance of the information in a book to be kept by such officer in such form as the State Government may prescribe in this behalf, and refer the informant to the Magistrate.
  2. No police officer shall investigate a non-cognizable case without the order of a Magistrate having the power to try such a case or commit the case for trial.
  3. Any police officer receiving such an order may exercise the same powers regarding the investigation (except the power to arrest without warrant) as an officer in charge of a police station may exercise in a cognisable case.
  4. Where a case relates to two or more offences of which at least one is cognisable, the case shall get deemed to be a cognisable case, notwithstanding that the other offences are non-cognizable.

Case laws

State of Karnataka v. Muniswamy

This section bestows the High Court with an inherent power to quash an FIR or a complaint upon satisfying well-established parameters. The exercise of power under this section is an exception and not a rule, and the High Court may exercise its inherent powers.

  1. To give effect to an order under the Code.
  2. To prevent abuse of the process of Court.
  3. To otherwise secure the ends of justice.

Prashant Bharti v. State of NCT of Delhi

The High court in the case observed that to quash an FIR by exercising its power under section 482 of CrPC, the following issues to be kept in consideration:-

  1. Whether the material relied upon by the accused is sound, reasonable, and indubitable?
  2. Whether the material relied upon by the accused is sufficient to reject and overrule the factual assertions contained in the complaint?
  3. Whether the material relied upon by the accused has not been refuted by the prosecution?
  4. Whether proceeding with the trial would result in an abuse of court proceedings
  5. Whether it would not serve the ends of justice?


CrPC provides that every person is allowed a fair trial and hearing by an independent and unbiased Tribunal. The accused is considered innocent until proved the charges against him. The accused has the right to be represented by his counsel, and the accused also has a right to cross-examine the witnesses of the opposite party.

The Criminal Procedure Code and Indian penal code both lay down the foundation of the criminal justice system in India. The enactment of these legislations led to the consolidation of criminal laws in India.

They play their role in the ineffective administration of justice. The CrPC and IPC can be effective by applying the India evidence act 1965, a procedural law like CrPC.

The CrPC prevents violation of the principle of natural justice and delays in the investigation and trial process.

It also ensures that there must be a fair opportunity for hearing and disclosure of all the pieces of evidence and charges used against the accused.

FAQs Regarding Criminal Procedure Code

Which section of the code prescribes for the trial of the offences under the IPC under the procedures of CrPC?

Section 4 of the code of criminal procedure 1973.

Which section of the code provides that the provisions of this code do not affect any special or local law or any particular jurisdiction or power conferred by any other law?

Section 5 of criminal procedure code.

In which case did the supreme court observe that “speedy trial is a fundamental right of an accused”?

S. Rama Krishna v. Rami Reddy 2008 Cri LJ 2625.

In which case does the apex court observe that the violation of procedural provisions does not deny the right of fair hearing?

Shivjee Singh v. Nagendra Tiwary 2010 Cri LJ 3827.

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