Criminal Justice Reforms
What is a Criminal Justice System?
Criminal Justice refers to the agencies of government charged with enforcing law, adjudicating crime, and correcting criminal conduct.
The criminal justice system is essentially an instrument of social control.
It has the power to control crime and punish criminals.
The Criminal law in India is contained in a number of sources – E.g., The Indian Penal Code, 1860, the Protection of Civil Rights Act, 1955, Dowry Prohibition Act, 1961 and the Scheduled Castes and Scheduled Tribes (Prevention of Atrocities) Act, 1989.
Criminal law and criminal procedure are in the concurrent list of the 7th schedule of the Constitution.
Objectives of CJS
To prevent occurrence of crime.
To punish transgressors and criminals.
To rehabilitate transgressors and criminals.
To compensate victims as far as possible.
To maintain law and order in the society.
To deter offenders from committing any criminal act in the future.
CJS guiding Principles enunciated in Indian Constitution
Presumption of innocence: Accused presumed to be innocent
Equality before the law (Article 14)
Equal protection of the laws.
Protection against double jeopardy (Article 20(2)).
Prohibition of discrimination imposed upon the State.
The right of the accused to remain silent (Article 20(3))
Arrest/detention must be in accordance with law and judicial guidelines.
Role of Public Prosecutor
Public Prosecutor (PP) is the "lawyer/advocate" who represents the State in a criminal case from State’s side against the suspected criminal in the criminal trial or in criminal prosecution.
The first task is that of the police; advising, suggesting or interfering in it is not the work of a public prosecutor.
Appointed to make prosecution, appeals or judicial proceedings in each High Court or High Court, the Central Government or the State Government (under section 24 of CRPC 1972.)
In layman terms, it is the duty of a public prosecutor to ensure speedy trials, equality before law, and see to it that justice is done.
Need for Reforms
MADHAV MENON COMMITTEE
Report submitted in 2007.
Recommended the complete revamp of the entire criminal procedure system.
Mooted creation of a fund to compensate victims who turns hostile from the pressure of culprits.
Suggested setting up of separate authority at national level to deal with crimes threatening the security of the nation.
MALIMATH COMMITTEE REPORT
Report submitted in 2003 on the Criminal Justice System of India (CJSI).
The Committee had opined that the existing system “weighed in favour of the accused and did not adequately focus on justice to the victims of crime.”
Various recommendations made for changes to the CJSI, most of which not implemented:
What has been done so far?
The government has implemented a number of recommendations like permitting videography of statements, the definition of rape has been expanded and new offences against women have been added. Victim compensation is now a part of the law.
The government has removed more than 1000 obsolete laws which came in the way of smooth administration.
The Legal Service Authority Act was enacted by the Parliament with an object to provide free and competent legal service to the weaker section of society. (The Gram Nyayalayas and Lok Adalats were established to provide access to justice to the citizens at their doorsteps.)
IN THE NEWS: Ministry of Home Affairs (MHA) has constituted a national level committee for reform in criminal law.
Draft clear policy informing the changes to incorporate in existing criminal laws.
Improvements in functioning and cooperation of police, prosecution, judiciary and in prisons.
Aim for reformative justice in order to bring all around peace in the society.