CrPC Section 298: Proving Previous Conviction or Acquittal in India

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CrPC Section 298: Proving Previous Conviction or Acquittal in India

1. Code:

Section 298 of the Code of Criminal Procedure, 1973 states:

“When any person is prosecuted for any offence, the fact that he has been previously convicted or acquitted of any other offence shall not be taken into consideration by the court in determining the guilt or innocence of such person in relation to the offence for which he is being prosecuted, except in the following cases:

  • When the previous conviction or acquittal is relevant to the question of the sentence to be awarded to the person prosecuted;
  • When the previous conviction or acquittal is relevant under any other law for the time being in force;
  • When the previous conviction or acquittal is admissible in evidence under this Code or any other law for the time being in force.

2. Explanation:

Section 298 of the CrPC outlines the circumstances under which evidence of a person’s previous conviction or acquittal of a different crime can be considered by a court in a current trial. The principle behind this section is that a person should be judged on the specific charges they face, not on their past criminal history. This principle is known as “the rule against the admission of bad character evidence“.

However, there are exceptions to this rule, as stated in the code, where evidence of previous convictions or acquittals can be considered relevant:

  • Sentence determination: If the accused is found guilty, the court can consider previous convictions to determine the appropriate sentence.
  • Other laws: If other laws specify that a previous conviction or acquittal is relevant for a particular offence, it can be considered.
  • Admissibility under CrPC or other laws: If evidence of a previous conviction or acquittal is admissible under the CrPC or other laws, it can be considered.
Also Read  Section 90 CrPC: Summons & Arrest Warrants - Code of Criminal Procedure Provisions

3. Illustration:

Consider a case where a person is charged with theft. The prosecution wants to introduce evidence that the accused was previously convicted of robbery. Under Section 298, this evidence would not be admissible as it is not relevant to the current theft charge. However, if the accused is found guilty of theft, the court can take into account the previous conviction for robbery when deciding on the sentence.

4. Common Questions and Answers:

Q1: What is the purpose of Section 298 of the CrPC?

The purpose of Section 298 is to prevent the court from considering a person’s past criminal history when determining their guilt or innocence in a current trial. It ensures a fair trial by focusing on the specific charges against the accused and not their past.

Q2: When can a previous conviction or acquittal be considered?

A previous conviction or acquittal can be considered in a few specific situations, including when it is relevant for sentencing, mandated by other laws, or admissible under the CrPC or other laws.

Q3: Can a previous conviction be used to prove the guilt of the accused in a current case?

Generally, no. Section 298 prevents the use of previous convictions to prove the guilt of the accused. However, it can be considered for other purposes, such as sentencing.

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