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Criminal Justice System

  • 30 Apr 2022
  • 5 min read

For Prelims: Draft Rules of Criminal Practice, 2020, Supreme Court, Indian Penal Code

For Mains: Criminal Justice System, Under trial prisoners, All-India Judicial Service

Why in News?

Recently, the Supreme Court gave two months to high courts and states to implement a set of guidelines meant to streamline inadequacies and deficiencies in criminal trials.

  • These guidelines are referred to as Draft Rules of Criminal Practice, 2020.
  • The Draft Rules recommends reforms in investigation and trial, including proposals to employ separate teams of lawyers to help the police during the probe and for the trial; details to be covered while drafting spot panchnamas and even corrections in body sketches.

What is Criminal Justice System in India?

  • Criminal Justice System refers to the agencies of government charged with enforcing law, adjudicating crime, and correcting criminal conduct.
  • Objective:
    • To prevent the occurrence of crime.
    • To punish the transgressors and the criminals.
    • To rehabilitate the transgressors and the criminals.
    • To compensate the victims as far as possible.
    • To maintain law and order in society.
    • To deter offenders from committing any criminal act in the future

Why There is a Need for Reforms?

  • Colonial Legacy: The criminal justice system- both substantive and procedural- are replica of the Bristish colonial jurisprudence, which were designed with the purpose of ruling the nation.
    • Therefore, the relevance of these 19th century laws is debatable in the 21st century.
  • Ineffective Justice Delivery: The purpose of the criminal justice system was to protect the rights of the innocents and punish the guilty, but nowadays the 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 actualization of the maxim Justice delayed is justice denied.”
  • Huge Undertrials: India has one of the world’s largest numbers of undertrial prisoners.
  • Police Issue: Police are 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.

Way Forward

  • Victim And Witness Protection: There is a need to launch victim and witness protection schemes, use of victim impact statements, increased victim participation in criminal trials, enhanced access of victims to compensation and restitution.
  • Revision of Criminal Codes: Criminal liability could be graded better to assign the degree of punishments.
    • New types of punishments like community service orders, restitution orders, and other aspects of restorative and reformative justice could also be brought in its fold.
    • Also, many chapters of the Indian Penal Code are overloaded at several places.
    • For instance, the chapters on offences against public servants, contempt of authority, public tranquility, and trespass can be redefined and narrowed.
  • Increasing Strength of Judicial Service: One of the solutions is to substantially increase the strength of the judicial services by appointing more judges at the subordinate level — improvements must start from the bottom of the pyramid.
    • Strengthening the subordinate judiciary also means providing it with administrative and technical support and prospects for promotion, development and training.
    • Institutionalizing All-India Judicial Service can be a step in the right direction.
  • Promoting Alternative Dispute Resolution: It should be mandated that all commercial litigation will be entertained only if there is an affidavit from the petitioner that mediation and conciliation have been attempted and have failed.

Source: TH

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