Criminal Justice System – Problems and Solutions

  • Category
    Indian Polity
  • Published
    26th Dec, 2019

Recently, Andhra Pradesh cabinet has approved a bill which proposes death penalty in cases of sexual abuse of women and seeks completion of the entire trial along with judgment within 21 days of filing of FIR.

Context

Recently, Andhra Pradesh cabinet has approved a bill which proposes death penalty in cases of sexual abuse of women and seeks completion of the entire trial along with judgment within 21 days of filing of FIR.

Background

  • The Criminal Justice System in India is an age-old system primarily based upon the Penal legal system that was established by the British Rule in India.
  • The system has still not undergone any substantial changes even after 70 years of Independence. The biggest example could be Section 124A of the Indian Penal Code (IPC) that defines sedition and provides for its punishment.
  • The entire Code of Criminal Procedure (Cr.P.C.) was amended in 1973.
  • The appointment of the Vohra Committee was the very first attempt towards reforming the Criminal Justice System in India. Vohra Committee report (1993) made an observation on the criminalisation of politics and of the nexus among criminals, politicians and bureaucrats in India.
  • In 2000, the government formed a panel headed by Justice V.S. Malimath, the former Chief Justice of Kerala and Karnataka, to suggest reform in the century-old criminal justice system.
  • The Malimath Committee submitted its report in 2003 with 158 recommendations but these were never implemented.
  • The Committee felt that the existing system “weighed in favour of the accused and did not adequately focus on justice to the victims of crime.”

Analysis

Issues in Criminal Judicial System

  • Multiplicity of Laws:
    • Andhra Pradesh cabinet’s approval to a bill which proposes death penalty in cases of sexual abuse of women and that seeks completion of the entire trial along with judgment within 21 days of filing of FIR is just another attempt to make another stringent rape laws that will undermine the authority of law.
    • After 2012 gang rape amendments to criminal laws were pitched. In 2013, POCSO and CrPc dealing with rape were made more stringent.
    • But in practice we have many stringent rape laws and the only problem is lack of implementation.
  • Criminal Justice is suffering from Inertia
    • Ineffectiveness:The purpose of the criminal justice system was to protect the rights of the innocents and punish the guilty, but now-a-days system has become a tool of harassment of common people.
    • Pendency of Cases:According to Economic Survey 2018-19, there are about 3.5 crore cases pending in the judicial system, especially in district and subordinate courts, which leads to actualisation of the maxim “Justice delayed is justice denied.”
    • Huge Undertrials:India has one of the world’s largest number of undertrial prisoners.
      • According to NCRB -Prison Statistics India (2015), 67.2% of our total prison population comprises of under trial prisoners.
    • Investigation:Police is being a front line of the criminal judiciary system, which played a vital role in the administration of justice. Corruption, huge workload and accountability of police is a major hurdle in speedy and transparent delivery of justice.
    • India has failed to bring a single meaningful change by which justice can be given in a proper order.
    • Parliament passes laws and then it forgets about them
    • They don’t care about the interpretation of the laws
    • Judiciary is not prioritizing the criminal cases
    • Executive is not active about filing FIRs and doing investigation
  • Lack of Infrastructure:
    • Every outgoing CJI has raised concerns about the lack of infrastructure in the Indian judiciary system
    • There are lot of vacancies in lower judiciary.
    • There is huge work load on lower judiciary as many new laws have been implemented putting more work pressure on them
    • There is a complete mismatch between the number of cases court system has been asked to handle and the human resources (in the form of judges, para-legal personnel, infrastructure, etc.) given.
  • Long delays in Trials
    • In normal criminal cases it takes 30-40 years to complete the trial.
    • People remain in jails for 10-12 years and then they are absolved of all the charges.
  • Lack of Intention
    • Lack of intention from executive, legislative and judiciary to create an effective and efficient system for the speedy delivery of justice of rape and aggravated sexual assaults.

Suggestions to Improve the Criminal Justice System

  • Create Specialization of Judges
    • We can’t make separate laws offence wise rather we must reform judicial system to respond to each and every offence in a reasonable time.
    • Give training to judges in criminal laws
  • Create Specialized Criminal Benches
    • The way we have created special commercial benches we must create special criminal benches in HC and SC for the speedy justice to rape victims and accused.
    • Research studies have shown that 90% of time is given to rich people and only 10% of time is given to poor people.
  • Create Infrastructure
    • Creating infrastructure in indispensable to the speedy disposal of justice in rape cases
    • What sort of Infrastructure
      • Number of judges to be increased
      • Technological aids and solutions for filling cases and other judicial processes
      • Vacancies to be filled on time
      • Increasing Human Resources in the form of para-legal resources
  • Sensitization of people
    • People must be sensitized to the gender issues
    • Rape and sexual assaults on women should not be tolerated
    • They should be sensitized about the ill effects of mob justice or retributive justice

Conclusion

Our legal system does not permit police officers to kill an accused merely because he is a dreaded criminal, rapist or terrorist. Undoubtedly, the police have to arrest the accused and make them face trial. The right thing to do in rape cases is to appoint senior judges in fast track courts; no adjournments should be permitted, and rape courts should be put under the direct control of High Courts; the district judge should not have any power to interfere, and the trial must be completed within three months.

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