Criminal Justice System

By admin July 1, 2019 20:13

Indian Criminal Justice system is still in the colonial hangover and is considered to be one of the most complicated systems in the world. 

  • According to the Crime in India report by the National Crime Records Bureau the conviction rate is abysmally low at 45% (2014).
  •  The pendency runs in decades.  Such a system generally favours the rich and powerful.
  • Before going to the issues plaguing the judicial system, it is important to understand the basic components of it.

Components of the Criminal Justice System

  • Broadly, the criminal justice systems have the following three components: Law Enforcement, Adjudication (Prosecution, Defense Lawyers and Courts) and Corrections and Prisons
    • Law Enforcement: Law enforcement the agencies that take a report for crimes, investigates them and gathers evidence (usually includes police forces)
    • Adjudication: means judicial processes further divided into:
      • Prosecution: are the lawyers who represent the state. They review the evidence collected by law enforcement and take a decision whether to drop the charges or file charges to present in the court.
      • Defence Lawyers: They lawyers who defend the accused against the government’s case. They are either hired by the accused or are assigned by the court if the accused can’t afford to hire one.
      • Courts: Courts decide upon the cases based on the law and pronounce judgments.
    • Corrections and Prisons: If the offenders are convicted they are put in jail or in the community on probation or parole. The department supervises them.

Challenges of Criminal Justice System

    • Delays in the process render the punishments ineffective.
    • The widespread prevalence of corruption and manipulation due to discretion to the enforcement
    • Complicated legal framework and delays cause the victims to seek extralegal method seeking justice (rise of mob justice)
    • The overburdened system with about 30 million pending criminal cases and 10 million new cases are added every year. 

Reform Strategy: Malimath Committee

The Malimath Committee suggested the following Reforms for the Criminal Justice System in India.

  • Procedural Reforms: Regular updating of the procedural and substantive law based on changes in society and economy. There should be an emphasis on decriminalization and diversion.
  • The committee suggested the division of the penal code into four different codes: 
    • Social Offences Code: to include matters of civil nature that could be settled without police intervention and prison terms through administrative processes
    • Correctional Offences Code: to include offence punishable up to three years imprisonment where plea-bargaining can be liberally invoked.
    • Economic Offences Code: to include property offences, which affect the financial stability of the country dealt with through the combination of criminal and administrative strategies.
    • Indian Penal Code: This should include only major crimes that would be punishable for ten years imprisonment or more or death.
  • Institutional Reforms: Reform of the police investigation, professionalization, rationalization of court systems through adoption of technology.
  • It suggested that the higher courts have a separate criminal division with judges who have specialized in criminal law.
  • The period of vacation by of the judges should be reduced to 21 days, keeping in mind the long pendency of cases.
  • It also recommended setting up of a National Security Commission and State Security Commissions to improve police accountability and transparency.

Steps were taken by Government so far

  • The compensation to be provided to the victims has now been made part of the law to avoid discretion and misuse.
  • A new Memorandum of Procedure (MoP) for the appointment of Judges is now in final stages and soon going to be implemented.
  • Recently, the government has done a clean-up drive and more than 1000 laws were repealed. This is one of the missions of the new government to repeal a “maze of useless laws” which come in the way of smooth administration.
  • A new umbrella scheme called ‘Modernisation of Police Forces’ has been put in place to help state government policies with proper use of technology.

Way Forward

It is high time Criminal Justice System (CJS) be reformed with simpler rules and procedures to make it convenient for the common man. Well-functioning CJS is one of the metrics of a mature democracy. Police reforms, Judicial Reforms, and other infrastructure investments in Forensic, investigation machinery are the need of the hour.

Also read: The state of Indian prisons

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By admin July 1, 2019 20:13