Sunday, May 26, 2024

Jurisdiction & formation of Criminal Courts


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Criminal courts means a court where man-made crimes are tried. According to the structure of our criminal law, criminal offenses are divided in many ways and each offense is tried in different courts according to the nature of the offense. Today I will discuss the structure and judicial power of the criminal courts.

History of Criminal Courts

Criminal law is originally a British law. At that time the law was promulgated in 1998. The Act was last amended in 2007, 2011, and 2012.

The importance and necessity of the Code of Criminal Procedure are immense for the administration of the criminal justice system. Most of the offenses which are defined in the Penal Code and the special laws which contain the definition and punishment of the offense are dealt with by this Act.

Types of criminal courts

The second part of the Code of Criminal Procedure deals extensively with the constitution and powers of the courts. According to Section 6 of this Code of Procedure, Criminal Courts are mainly of two types.

• Court of Session.
• Magistrate’s Court.

The Magistrates’ Court is again divided into two parts.

• Judicial Magistrate.
• Executive Magistrate.

Between these two classes of Magistrates’ Courts, the Courts of Judicial Magistrates are divided into four divisions.

• Chief Judicial Magistrate.
• Magistrate of First Class.
• Magistrate of Second Class.
• Magistrate of Third Class.

Look, Judicial Magistrates are divided into four categories but the names of these Magistrates will be different in metropolitan areas. In metropolitan areas, the Chief Judicial Magistrate shall be known as the Chief Metropolitan Magistrate. Again the First Class Magistrate will be known as Metropolitan Magistrate in metropolitan areas.

Moreover, as per Section 6, Additional Chief Judicial Magistrate or Additional Chief Metropolitan Magistrate shall mean Chief Judicial Magistrate or Chief Metropolitan Magistrate.

As per Section 9(3A) of the Code of Criminal Procedure, the Sessions Court is divided into three parts.

• Session Judge.
• Additional Session Judge.
• Joint Session Judge.

Subordination of Criminal Courts

Along with the constitution of the criminal courts, the jurisdiction of which court is discussed in this Code of Procedure. These have been discussed in various sections of the Criminal Procedure Code.

All Executive Magistrates shall be subordinate to the District Magistrate as per Section 17 of the Code of Criminal Procedure. All types of Judicial Magistrates shall be subordinate to the Chief Judicial Magistrate. All Metropolitan Magistrates shall be subordinate to the Chief Metropolitan Magistrate. All types of Judicial Magistrates/Metropolitan and Chief Judicial/Metropolitan Magistrates will be subordinate to the Sessions/Metropolitan Sessions Judge.

Again according to section 17(a) the joint session judges who exercise jurisdiction in the court of the session judge will be subordinate to that session judge.

Ordinary and additional powers of criminal courts

The reader should understand one thing at the beginning of this chapter. Judging and sentencing are separate powers under this section. Basically, the Code of Criminal Procedure deals with the manner in which the penal code and other offenses will be tried. According to section 28 the High Court Division, Sessions Court, and any other court shall try any offense as per column 8 of schedule 2 of the Code of Criminal Procedure.

In the beginning, let us discuss the content of Section 32 of the Criminal Procedure Code. This section states that a Magistrate of the 1st class can impose a maximum penalty of 5 years and a 10,000/= Taka fine. On the other hand, the 2nd class magistrate can impose a fine of 3 years and 5,000/= and the 3rd class magistrate can impose a fine of 2 years and 2,000/= taka.

Again in default of the fine mentioned above the Magistrate shall not exceed one-quarter of the maximum sentence original jurisdiction for the offense.

An analysis of Section 31 shows that the High Court can impose any punishment permitted by law. Besides, the Sessions Judge and the additional Sessions Judge can impose any punishment permitted by law, but in case of a death sentence, it has to be executed subject to the approval of the High Court Division. And the Joint Sessions Judge can award a maximum imprisonment of 10 years.

Special Jurisdiction of Magistrates

Section 29B of the Code deals with Juvenile Jurisdiction. A juvenile under the age of 15 who commits an offense punishable by death or life imprisonment may be tried by the Chief Judicial Magistrate (CJM) or Chief Metropolitan Magistrate (CMM) or any other judge empowered by law.

Again Article 29C deals with the special judicial powers of Magistrates. This section provides for the Chief Judicial Magistrate (CJM)/Chief Metropolitan Magistrate (CMM)/Additional Chief Judicial Magistrate (ACJM) to try offenses punishable other than death in consultation with the High Court Division. Can delegate power.

As discussed in the same section, a Metropolitan Magistrate (MM) or a Magistrate of the 1st Class can delegate jurisdiction to try offenses punishable with death, life imprisonment, or other punishment not exceeding 10 years.

A perusal of Section 33A shows that under Section 29C, the Magistrates are specially empowered to award a maximum sentence of 7 (seven) years, though having jurisdiction to award a higher sentence.

Provisions for order of penalty

When a case is tried for more than one offense and the accused is found guilty, if the punishment for the said offense is imprisonment or life imprisonment, the sentences shall run concurrently if the court orders them to run concurrently, otherwise, the sentences shall run consecutively. However, Section 35 of the Code of Criminal Procedure also provides that the sentence to run consecutively shall not exceed 14 years and if the case is tried by a Magistrate, the sentence shall not be more than twice the sentence that the Magistrate would have imposed in ordinary jurisdiction.

Below is an example for better understanding.

A case was filed against Abul Awal. In this case, the trial started on the charges of hurt, theft, and trespassing, and on the proof of these three charges, separate punishments were given according to the section. So here it can be seen that there are three different types of offenses in one case. If the judge gives 6 months, 2 months, and 1 month as punishment for these three crimes. And pointed out that since the maximum sentence in the case of the concurrent sentence is 6 months, the sentence will end after 6 months. And if it mentions that one will run after the other, then it will run separately.

Will imprisonment during the trial be excluded from punishment?

Yes. According to Section 35A of the Penal Code, if a convicted person, other than a capital offender, is serving imprisonment during the trial, the period of imprisonment shall be deducted from the original sentence. Another important point here is that if the imprisonment during the trial is more than the punishment awarded, then you will be released immediately and any fine imposed along with the punishment will also be waived.


So far in the above discussion, I have tried to discuss the judicial powers of Magistrates and Session Judges in criminal offenses. One last point needs to be discussed. Section 561A of the Code of Criminal Procedure confers inherent powers on the High Court. This section states that the High Court may make any order to prevent abuse of the judicial process and in the interest of justice notwithstanding the provisions contained in this rule.
The High Court mainly exercises its inherent powers in 3 matters.
1. For the execution of any order made under this rule. 2. To prevent any court proceedings. 3. To ensure justice otherwise.

So, in today’s article, we hope to give a rough idea about the judicial power of the criminal courts. More details will be discussed in a later discussion.

Advocate Shipta Barua
Advocate Shipta Barua
Currently working as a Criminal Lawyer in Cox's Bazar Sessions Court, as well as legal consultant at Legal Home to provide legal assistance to common people. Moreover, involved in various social activities through the organization Gyananneshon. He completed LL.B (Hons) and LL.M in Law and Justice. Special interest in maritime law, environmental law and criminology.



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