On 16th December 2012, five accused including one minor raped a 23yr old girl in the national capital of the country. For the first-time, people came to the streets to change the existing legal system. In the recent case of Hathras rape case to the bail of Journalist Arnab Goswami, the Indian Criminal legal system was chastised for several deficiencies. Also, with the passage of time and advancing crimes, it has been observed that the system is unable to adjust itself in the new kinds of offences causing problems to the classes who want to go to courts for redressal of problems. Therefore, it becomes important to understand what the criminal legal system is and what its deficiencies are and how they can be solved.
What is the Criminal Justice System?
For the state to function properly it should be governed by some rules and regulations and breach of such rules and regulations should be punished, in order to make this happen a criminal justice system is required which includes maintenance of law and order, just fair and speedy trial, the punishment of offenders and their rehabilitation to name a few.
Various Components of Criminal Justice System
In order to understand the reformations required in the criminal justice system in India, we just need to look into various components of the criminal justice system which define it.
The criminal justice system consists of different organizational components working together jointly for the completion of specific goals. The legislative component is of great importance in the criminal justice system of justice of any state. They enact laws that decide what actions are right and which are wrong and also provide penalties for the wrong actions. However, the legislature has no part in the operational component which is determined by the police system. The police system authorizes its power from legislative actions it apprehends the wrongdoer and brings them to Court.
However ground-breaking the legislation maybe if not properly executed by the Police system its objective is not full filled. The execution part of laws by the Police system is closely monitored by the Courts. Judicial review is available at several stages. Overall, there is three-fold accountability of police to the people, to the law, and to the organization.
The next most important component is Judiciary. Its prime function is to impart free, fair, and impartial justice, Judge presiding on a case must know the fact that their judgment sets a precedent that shall be considered while deciding cases of similar manner and hence must give judgment accordingly. An independent impartial and able judiciary is the first requirement of justice. And the judge presiding over a particular case must not be influenced by any kind of external influences like threats, interferences, or pressures, etc. Rule of law is a very important component of any civilized society. An unjust acquittal is as grave an issue as an unjust conviction. Another issue that plagues the judicial system is the lack of promptness of the judgments delivered. Speedy trial is a constitutional right of every citizen irrespective of his guilt or innocence.
The final Part is the correctional Institutions that seek to rehabilitate the offender so that he or she will not violate the law again. There are two kinds of correction system probation and prison both involve some restriction on an individual’s freedom.
Looking into all the operations at different stages one can say that it is difficult to perceive the criminal justice system as a single operational unit instead of that it appears to be a collection of loosely knit institutions striving for the goal of effective crime control. Where either of the components fails to act in a manner prescribed the total system collapses and gets disorganized and disoriented. Hence each part of the judicial system must act in a manner supporting each other
Infirmities in existing criminal laws
Due to not having any idea of inherent ideas of lacunas in the Criminal Justice System a common person when approaches courts in order to get justice get no relief and he loses the faith in the existing system. This is the major reason why this system is alienating the people for which it was made.
Following are the other infirmities present in the criminal justice system
1) Pendency of cases
2) Lack of transparency
3) Cumbersome process
4) Lack of Coordination and systems approach
6) Lack of Awareness amongst individuals
The amount of criticism of Courts against the above infirmities has increased in the present times. Like it is said that the judiciary which recognizes the rule of law must always abandon the culture of secrecy surrounding its process.
The pendency of litigation is another key issue in the Indian Legal system. A common expression used in the legal system is equity deferred is equity denied, and according to the 2020 report (https://main.sci.gov.in/statistics) around 64,426 cases are pending within the supreme court only. For High Court these figures in present times across separate jurisdictions above tally comes to 51,57,378(https://www.bloombergquint.com/law-and-policy/indias-pending-court-cases-on-the-rise-in-charts). The 25 high courts in our country have around 404 vacancies of judges currently. (https://theprint.in/opinion/one-third-judges-posts-lie-vacant-in-12-high-courts-so-much-for-collegiums/532266/). (The various aspects of the criminal justice system are lacking comprehension and teamwork). Due to delays in justice, inaccessibility, misuse of power and bribery and difficult impeachment process corruption is increasing in Courts.
Speedy Justice is also another problem. In India getting justice is also time taking which also makes it expensive. Although the right to prompt decision is not expressly stated in the Indian Constitution under Article 21 it is implied.
Speedy Justice nowhere means decisions given in a hasty and improper manner, thorough scrutiny of facts of the cases is required before citing a judgment lack of which will lead to injustice and the court’s existence will be itself of no value. Also, it is worth mentioning that the judge presiding on a particular case is burdened to such a level that he has no option but to just hastily give a decision which may cause injustice to parties involved, the above-mentioned vacancies prove the absence of a large no of judges and is also the reason which inhibits speedy disposal of the case and drags the cases for a longer time.
Suggestions for Improvement
Now when we have seen the Constituents and problems of the Criminal Justice System we need to discuss the most important part of the blog which is how can we improve the above-mentioned problems. Following are my suggestions for improvement.
1. In order to reduce the delay in deciding cases responsibility for delays should be fixed. It may be any component of the criminal justice system the police, prosecution, or any other component, that part should be identified and the concerned person having the presiding authority must be penalized for unjustifiable delays. Law Commission of India in its 154th report recommended some suggestions to reduce the time taken
2. Debates and Discussions regarding changes to be made in the Indian Criminal Justice system; Proactive debates must be held to remove ambiguities in the criminal justice system, Discussions should be made with eminent legal personalities regarding new offenses and how to prevent them, also the representation of common people must be there in order to align the interest of people and criminal justice system.
3. Client-oriented Courts: that is courts should be meant for the common people not for the lawyers or any other person, the system of the court should be such that even an average person can understand the proceedings of the court, it will make the person understand the reason for which the sessions are delayed and the whole process shall be easier for the people belonging from the non-legal background.
4. Unnecessary Adjournments and Strikes must be stopped.
5. Vacancies in the court of law must be fulfilled immediately with capable people. Judiciary as a profession must be publicized among law students so that talented students join the posts. Services of retired justices can be undertaken for presiding over judgments for the interim solutions of problems.
6. Infrastructure related to CJS must be improved like increasing no of court buildings, police station and renovations to existing court buildings must be prioritized. Proper training regarding the duties and responsibilities of Judges must be given to new students so to make them capable of handling complicated cases.
7. The acts which have become obsolete in modern times must be repealed. And multiple criminal laws should be avoided to reduce complicacy.
8. The strength of police should be in proportion with the population of people if there is a shortage the police system will suffer from discrepancies. According to a report by parliament(https://economictimes.indiatimes.com/news/defence/indias-ratio-of-138-police-personnel-per-lakh-of-population-fifth-lowest-among-71countries/article show/48264737.cms?from=mdr) in 2014, there was a shortfall of 5.6 lakh police personal in our country, such kind of shortage makes system overburdened and rigged. Police officials must be provided extensive training and suitable infrastructure should be developed to support them
9. There were two committees constituted by the government for reformations in the existing criminal justice system Malimath Committee (2003), Madhav Menon Committee (2007) their recommendations must be seriously studied and once which seem to be feasible should be implemented immediately by the government. ( https://www.drishtiias.com/daily-updates/daily-news-analysis/committee-on-criminal-law-reform)
10. Public trust must be obtained by the government through media and the inclusion of Plea Bargaining may reduce the backlog of cases.
11. Alternative Dispute resolution methods must be promoted in order to reduce the burden of cases over courts. Lok Adalats can also be used along with fast track courts for speedy disposal of cases.
1) Ayush Verma, Reforms needed in the Indian criminal justice system, iPleaders (2020), https://blog.ipleaders.in/reforms-needed-indian-criminal-justice-system/ (last visited Dec 14, 2020).
2) Anita Yadav, “Criminal Justice Reform in India: Need of the Hour” published in Criminal Law Journal, Vol. 119, Part 1358, February 2013, page no. 29-32., 119 Criminal Law Journal, 29–32 (2013).
3) Anup Kumar Varsbney, CRIMINAL JUSTICE SYSTEM: N E E D FOR REFORMS 20.
4) [Answered]“There is an urgent need to reform the criminal justice system in India.” Discuss in light of recent failures of criminal justice in India., , ForumIAS Blog (2020), https://blog.forumias.com/answeredthere-is-an-urgent-need-to-reform-the-criminal-justice-system-in-india-discuss-in-light-of-recent-failures-of-criminal-justice-in-india/ (last visited Dec 17, 2020).
Criminal Justice System in India: Need for Reforms | UPSC - IAS EXPRESS, , https://www.iasexpress.net/criminal-justice-system-india/ (last visited Dec 17, 2020).
School of Law, KIIT.