Criminal Justice System

  • NCRB: About 1.9 lac murder cases were brought to trial in the year 2012 (including previous cases) but trials were completed only in 21,653 cases
Why reform of criminal justice system is necessary?
  • As per the latest figures there is a pendency of more than three crore cases out of which almost two crore cases are criminal cases. The arrears have a tendency to compound each year and could, if uncorrected, lead to the collapse of the judicial system.
  • Besides, criminal Law of India is a replica of colonial times. It is hostile to the poor and the weaker sections of society. The law still serves and protects the needs of the haves and ignores the have-nots. Such biasness has resulted in rich people escaping law and the jail is more often full of the unprivileged class of society.
  • Also, the way criminal justice is designed and administered today hardly serves any of the purposes for which it is set up: towards securing life and property
  • It does not deter criminals because of the delay and uncertainties involved in its processes and ridiculously ineffective punishments it imposes on those few who get convicted.
  • It provides wide discretion to the police and the prosecution, rendering the system vulnerable to corruption and manipulation and endangering basic rights of innocent citizens.
  • It ignores the real victim, often compelling him/her to find extralegal methods of getting justice.
  • It also puts heavy economic costs on the state for its maintenance without commensurate benefits in return.
  • Also, more than 30 million criminal cases are still pending in the system (the annual capacity of which is only half that number), and another 10 million or more cases are being added every year
Reforms needed in Indian Criminal Justice System:
    The Penal code should be modified to incorporate the present day societal, economic, and other changes.
    The Penal code can be divided into various codes incorporating
    social offences,correctional offences,economic offences anda Indian penal code (which will deal with cases that warrant 10 years punishment or more).The other categories can be settled through administrative procedures, minimum police intervention, plea bargaining (if required)
    Institutional reform including proper investigation of crimes, rationalisation of court systems by inducting technology, limiting appeal procedures to a minimum.
    The system should be victim centric to ensure that the victims get justice. The victim should get a chance to put forth his case and quick completion of trials is needed to ensure that they do not lose faith in the system.Fixing responsibility quickly and transparently will maximize the sense of justice to the victim.
    Reforming the property based bail system, provision of proper legal support to remove problem of under trials, improvement of prison conditions is needed.
    Addressing the problem of Under-staffing in Indian Judiciary ( 32% shortfall in High court Judges, 21% in district court judges)Creation of All India Judicial Services for transparent appointments in Higher Judiciary.Free legal aid (Art 39A) to be included in Fundamental rights.Innovative measures like Lok Adalats shall sit more frequently, and recently debated National Court of Appeal to be conceived as soon as possible.LOK ADALATS for swift disposal of petty crimes, under trials, etc.Jury service for citizens and the elderly for speedier resolutionPromote alternative dispute resolution methods like arbitration, mediation, reconciliation and favour restorative justice with victim-centric approachLimit time allowed on arguments made in court like in USA.Sector specific tribunals can be set up only with restricted appellate in high courts or Supreme court.Evolve suitable guidelines on special leave petitions.
Thus, India needs to reform its archaic system to incorporate more efficient practices like restorative justice, plea bargaining, etc. that will ensure a more robust criminal justice system.

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