Legal Terms used in Police and Criminal Law

 

  • FIR: FIR stands for First Information Report. It is defined under Sec 154 of the Code of Criminal Procedure, 1973 as a written document prepared by the police which provides initial information that an offence has been committed in which the police can make arrests without any warrants. It is the starting point of any investigation by the police.

 

  • CHARGESHEET: A Chargesheet is the final document prepared by the police after investigation which lists the offences committed by the accused. It contains the name(s) of the accused and offences for which the accused shall be tried in the court. A Chargesheet is defined under Section 173 of the Code of Criminal Procedure.

 

  • TRIAL: Trial is the coming together of parties to a dispute to present facts and witnesses in a civil or criminal matter in a court or tribunal which has the power to decide the cases.

 

  • CLEANCHIT: A statement by a law enforcement agency exonerating an accused of any crime.

 

  • WRIT PETITION: A petition filed in the Supreme Court or High Courts to prevent and protect the fundamental rights of a person from being violated. Writs are filed under section Article 32 and 226 of the Indian Constitution. Writs are of 5 types: Habeas Corpus, Mandamus, Prohibition, Certiorari and Quo Warranto.

 

  • CIVIL COURT: A court which handles civil disputes and matters. It has the jurisdiction to entertain cases in which a prosecution is not brought by the Government. Sec 9 of the Civil Procedure Code defines the jurisdiction of the Civil Courts.

 

  • MAGISTRATE: An officer with limited authority who has power to administer and enforce the law in criminal cases. Magistrates are classified into four categories according to the provisions of Sec 6 of the Criminal Procedure Code, 1973: Chief Judicial Magistrate, Judicial Magistrates First Class, Judicial Magistrates Second Class, and Executive Magistrates.

 

  • SESSIONS COURT: A district court which exercises jurisdiction in criminal matters. It is defined under Section 9 of the Criminal Procedure Code.

 

  • PIL: PIL stands for Public Interest Litigation. It is a litigation filed by a private party for the protection of public interest. However, the person filing the petition must prove to the court that the petition is filed for a public interest and not for private interest or malicious intention. A PIL can be filed under Article 32 and 226 of the Indian Constitution in the HC or SC respectively. E.g. Abhishek, a public-spirited citizen, is concerned about the high number of residential areas which are being constructed in areas reserved for parks in Mumbai. He may request the court to look into it by filing a PIL for the matter concerns the public at large.

 

  • INVESTIGATION: Investigation means all the proceedings under this Code for the collection of evidence conducted by a police officer or by anyone who is authorised by a Magistrate. It is defined under Section 2(h) of the Criminal Procedure Code.

 

  • INQUIRY: Inquiry means every inquiry, other than a trial, for the purpose of clearing a doubt, or finding a solution conducted by a Magistrate or Court. It is defined under Section 2(g) of the Criminal Procedure Code.

 

  • INJUNCTION: Injunction is a preventive court order directing a party to do or abstain from doing anything which would be contrary to equity and natural justice. An injunction can be temporary or permanent. A temporary injunction is governed under Section 37 of the Specific Reliefs Act, 1963. E.g. Mr. Sharma uses an industrial grade lawn mower for his lawns which disturbs his neighbour Mr. Verma. Mr. Verma files a petition in the court. The Court grants an injunction prohibiting Mr X from using the lawn mower.

 

  • SUMMONS: A summon is a document issued by the court directing the person mention in the summon to appear before the court. Section 27 and Order 5 of the Code of Civil Procedure deals with the service of summons to the defendant and Section 61 to 69 of the Code of Criminal Procedure deals with the topic of summons.

 

  • AFFIDAVIT: An Affidavit is a sworn written statement declaring a certain fact or statement as true. Affidavit is defined in Section 3(3) of the General Clauses Act 1897. E.g. Mr. Sinha, a politician has been accused of having disproportionate assets. He files an affidavit stating the assets that he has and their approximate value.

 

  • ALIBI: Alibi literally means ‘elsewhere’. It’s a claim or piece of evidence that the accused was not physically present at the place of the crime. E.g. Ashish, an accused in the murder of Soumya, provides CCTV footage which show him roaming in his building at the time of the murder. The footage is an alibi used to prove Ashish’s innocence.

 

  • PUBLIC PROSECUTOR: A public prosecutor is an advocate who represents the State in criminal matters and brings the prosecution against the accused. The appointment of a public prosecutor is governed by Sec 24 of the Code of Criminal Procedure 1973.

 

  • DAMAGES: Damages refer to the amount of compensatory money that a guilty party has to pay to the another for loss suffered due to breach of the terms of the contract. It is defined under Sec 73 & 74 of the Indian Contracts Act. E.g. Ratan enters into a contract with Sapna to deliver 100kgs of cotton to her. Ratan fails to do so, thus breaching the contract. The court directs him to pay Rs 10,000 to Sapna as damages for the breach he committed.

 

  • DEPOSITION: The testimony of a party, witness or expert outside the court which is recorded and acceptable as evidence.

 

  • PAROLE: Parole refers to the release of a prisoner before the expiry of his sentence on account of good behaviour.

 

  • BAIL: Bail is the temporary release of an arrested person. An offence might be bailable or non-bailable i.e. bail may be allowed or not allowed. Bail is governed by Sections 436-439 of the Criminal Procedure Code.

 

  • FURLOUGH: A furlough is a leave from prison that every prisoner has a right to. The period of furlough in India is 14 days.

 

  • SUO MOTO: The power of the police or court to take cognizance of a matter without any formal complaint or petition.

 

  • PRIMA FACIE: Literally meaning ‘on first sight’, prima facie is a statement or evidence which is accepted as the truth unless it is refuted.

 

  • COGNIZABLE: A cognizable offence is an offence in which the police can begin investigation and make arrests without a warrant. It’s defined in Sec 2(c) of the Criminal Procedure Code.

 

  • NON-COGNIZABLE: A non-cognizable offence is an offence in which the police cannot begin investigation and make arrests without a warrant issued by a magistrate. It’s defined in Sec 2(l) of the Criminal Procedure Code.

 

  • AMICUS CURIAE: Literally Latin term meaning ‘friend of the court’, Amicus Curiae means who is not a party to the suit but provides information to the court regarding the laws or any other fact relevant to the case. E.g. Mr. Khan, a senior counsel, is invited by the court for his expert opinion on patent laws. He is thus amicus curiae.

 

  • DECREE: A decree is the declaration of the court on the matter of controversy in the suit and determines the rights of the parties. It’s the view of the court on the substantial questions of law put before it. It’s defined in Sec 2(2) of the Civil Procedure Code, 1908.

 

  • ORDER: Order means the formal expression of any decision of a Civil Courts which is not a decree. An order may be a final order or an interlocutory order. It’s defined under Sec 2(14) of the Civil Procedure Code, 1908.

 

  • JUDGEMENT: Judgment means the statement given by the judge/judges while giving any order or decree. It’s defined under Sec 2(9) of the Civil Procedure Code, 1908.

 

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