Impact of Knowledge of Law and Related Matters on Fair Trial in Backdrop of Plead Guilty


  • Syed Anees Badshah Bukhari PhD in Political Science
  • Ghulam Mustafa
  • Aziz-ur-Rahman



Fair trial, the basis for dispensation of justice, has certain prerequisites, including the ‘knowledge of law and related matters, on the part of accused. The process of plead guilty, a short-cut procedure for disposal of criminal cases, exists side by side with standard procedure of contested trial. For a fair trial, the accused should be able to understand the charge and the legal procedures that will be used in disposal of his case. In this research article the impact of ‘knowledge of law and related matters’ on ‘fair trial’ in backdrop of ‘plead guilty’ has been explored, with the focus to discern the association of former with the latter. The study was conducted through two-stage random sampling technique from the research population comprising the persons accused for minor offences under Pakistan Penal Code or Section 9(a) of Control of Narcotics Substances Act in all districts and subdivisions of Khyber Pakhtunkhwa. The samples were taken equally from cases decided through plead guilty and contested trials. The research design was devised in a manner to analyze the data through SPSS to answer the main research question about the association of the attributes of the accused, including his knowledge, influencing his choice to plead guilty with the outcome of the fairness of the trial in terms of key attributes of the fair trial? The data were collected through pre-tested questionnaire, aided by interviews, where needed. The results of the study indicated that a majority of accused in such cases lack adequate knowledge of law and related matters, needed to defend themselves in the courts, which results in higher occurrence of deficient trials, and this outcome is more frequent in cases decided on plead guilty. Substantial reforms are needed to address this issue.

           Keywords: fair trial, knowledge of law, plead guilty, contested trial, pre-tested questionnaire, deficient trial