Understanding Criminal Courts: From Investigation to Trial


What’s an Inquiry and a Trial?

An “inquiry” is like a pre-trial investigation conducted by a court or magistrate to determine if there’s enough evidence to proceed to trial. It’s a crucial step where the court examines the facts before making a decision. Conversely, a “trial” is the formal process where the court examines the evidence presented and determines whether the accused is guilty or not. Get in touch with senior criminal lawyers in bangalore

Types of Inquiries

Inquiries come in various forms:

  1. Judicial Inquiry: Conducted by a judge or court.
  2. Non-Judicial Inquiry: Carried out by someone other than a judge, like an investigator.
  3. Preliminary Inquiry: The first step in examining a case before deciding whether to proceed to trial.
  4. Local Inquiry: Investigation conducted at the place where the incident occurred.
  5. Inquiry into an Offence: Investigation focused on a specific crime.
  6. Inquiry into Other Matters: Investigation into issues unrelated to criminal offenses.

Varieties of Trials

Trials exhibit diversity:

  1. Session Trial: A formal trial presided over by a judge.
  2. Warrant Trial: Initiated upon the issuance of an arrest warrant.
  3. Summons Trial: Convened when the accused is summoned by the court.
  4. Summary Trial: A swift adjudication process tailored for minor infractions.

Understanding Jurisdiction of Criminal Courts

Jurisdiction refers to the authority of a court to handle a case. Key points about jurisdiction include:

– The court where the offense occurred typically handles the case.

– If the offense happened in multiple places, any of those courts can handle it.

– If the offense involves multiple acts in different areas, any court covering those areas can handle it.

– In some cases, the trial can take place where the accused is found, not just where the offense occurred.

– Certain offenses, like theft or kidnapping, have specific rules about where they can be tried.

– Sometimes, the government can decide to move a case to a different court.

– If there’s confusion about which court should handle a case, the High Court steps in to decide.

– If a crime happens outside India but involves an Indian citizen or a foreigner on an Indian ship or plane, it can still be tried in India with the government’s permission.


Determining which court should handle a case is crucial to the legal process. The law provides guidelines from sections 177 to 189 of the Code of Criminal Procedure to assist in this. Generally, the court where the crime occurred takes up the case. However, exceptions exist, such as when the accused is found in a different location or when the crime involves international aspects. Courts must adhere to these rules to ensure a smooth legal process.


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