The statute of lady justice by her blindfold represents fair justice to all. Justice is just another term for trust, which is provided to everyone, irrespective of gender, caste, creed, sex and religion. Due to a lot of pending cases, and a number of undertrial prisoners, it is considered inefficient. In today’s era also people have full faith in the justice system because of the fair and honest judgments. Justice delayed, is considered as justice denied, but it’s not the reality, justice can be delayed but never denied.
In a democratic country like India, the justice system can be compared as imperceptive, but cannot be termed as indolent. Here, justice can be delayed but never denied. Everyone enjoys equal status and rights. Criminal justice is that type of justice, which deals with criminal matters only. Justice can also be labelled as fairness or moral rightness, which is the result of the proper administration of law. Though our justice system has many loopholes it does not mean that it is only full of lacunas and technicalities. Indian judiciary has pronounced a lot of landmark judgments for the betterment and trust of society.
In this corrupted country, it is difficult to trust anybody. But people still have faith in the judiciary as the law is blind and decisions are made not by biasness but by equality. We all would agree that our system is slow in passing judgments as there are a lot of cases pending but no case is left overlooked. “The golden eye of justice sees, and requires the unjust man.”
What is the basic meaning of the Criminal Justice System?
The Criminal Justice System comprises of institutions, agencies and procedures demonstrated by the government to limit the number of crimes in the country. The duty of police and courts can be counted in it. The main objective of Criminal Justice is to protect and safeguard the rights and liberties of individuals. Some statutes are made to govern the criminal law like- The Indian Penal Code, 1860, The Protection of Child Rights Act, 1955, Dowry Prohibition Act, 1961 and the Scheduled Castes and Scheduled Tribes (Prevention of Atrocities) Act, 1989. Provisions mentioned in this legislation, contain punishments, for the individuals who violate those provisions. The Criminal law and criminal procedure are mentioned in the concurrent list seventh schedule of the Indian Constitution.[i]
History of the Criminal Justice in India
The Criminal Justice in India is an ancient concept based upon the penal laws, founded by the Britishers in India. Even after 70 years of independence, there has been no substantial change in the penal laws like example- Section 124A, which talks about sedition and provides punishment for the same. In 1973, the whole of Code of Criminal Procedure was amended.
In 1993, the first step was taken to reform the Criminal Justice by the Vohra Committee, whose report made an examination on the criminalization of politics and of the network among criminals, politicians and civil servants of India. In 2000, a panel was formed by the government, which was headed by the former Chief Justice of Kerala and Karnataka, Justice V.S.Malimath to suggest some reformations against the old criminal justice system. This Malimath Committee submitted its report in 2003 with 158 suggestions but was never executed.[ii]
Why do we need reform in the Criminal Justice in India
The system became inadequate– Criminal justice System was made to protest and safeguard the rights of the innocent people and to punish the accused, but it led to harassment of people by the government agencies and also situated a burden on the judiciary.
Incompetent in delivering justice- According to the NCRB report, 67.2% of the total population of the prison is filled up by undertrial prisoners. There is a lack of cooperation within the judiciary, prosecution and the police, due to which a lot of innocent people suffer in undertrial prisoners.
Nature of the crime- Crime increases, with the increasing time, which made crime complicated due to technological transformations.
The incapability of investigation- The complex nature of crime slowed down the investigation, which resulted in a delay of the required justice.
Justice inequality- The judicial system became corrupted and the rich got convicted even in grave crimes. Also, the rising connection between crime and politics added a new dimension to the crime scenario.
Judiciary became expensive- According to the lower class, the judiciary resulted out to be too expensive to afford, which lowered the confidence of the financially weak man.
Pendency of cases- In 2018-2019, according to the economic survey report, about 3.5 crore cases were pending in the criminal justice system.
Suggestions were given by the Malimath Committee
- Need for more judges in the country.
- Amendment in Article 124 for making impeachment process less complicated and appointment of judges should be made by the Constitution of National Judicial Commission.
- There should be a separate criminal division in high courts, headed by judges having specialization in criminal laws.
- The accused should be aware of their rights and have the knowledge of how to enforce them. They should also know that they have the right to be silent.
- The state should provide advocates in cases, where the victim is unable to afford. The victim should be allowed to participate in serious and grave crimes and also be provided with sufficient compensation. In case of the death of the victim, the legal representative shall have the right to seek redressal against that serious crime.
- There could be created a Victim Compensation Fund under the victim compensation law and the benefits seized from the crimes can be made part of the fund.
- There should be the proper appointment of the investigation officers according to law and order.
- Establishment of the National Security Commission and State Security Commission.
- SP should be appointed in each district to maintain crime books and must have a specialized team to deal with organized crime.
- A new post for Director of Prosecution should be made in every state to have proper coordination between the investigating and prosecuting officers.
- All witnesses should be treated with dignity and the confessions given by the accused should be authorized by law and there should be a strong witness protection mechanism.
- Lok Adalat should settle the pending cases on a priority basis.
- The death sentence should be substituted with imprisonment of life without any commutation.
- Crime is a matter under state, so there should be a central law to deal with organized crimes, federal crimes and crimes related to terrorism.
- There should be a proper Presidential Commission to examine the periodic review on the functioning of the Criminal Justice System.[iii]
Major reforms needed
- While implementing new offences and substituting the existing ones, the principles of criminal jurisprudence should be kept in mind.
- Major importance should be given to the classification of offences. Like the laws mentioned in IPC against public servants, public tranquillity and trespass should be narrowed down as they are just a burden in IPC.
- The discretion of judges in different cases should strictly be based on the principles of judicial precedence.[iv]
Reforms were undertaken by the Government
- After such recommendations, the government has implemented the needy ones like permitting videography of statements, extending the definition of rape, by adding new offences against women and by making victim compensation a part of the law.
- The Government has repealed many obsolete laws which were acting as an obstacle in the smooth functioning of the administration.
- The Government has given its approval for implementation of an umbrella scheme of ‘Modernization of Police Forces’ with proper use of technology.
- To provide access to justice to the common man, the Gram Nyayalayas and Lok Adalats were established.
- The Legal Service Authority was enacted by the Parliament, to provide free and competent legal service to the weaker section of society.[v]
Justice delayed but never denied
Nirbhaya Gang Rape Case,
On just a usual chilly December night in Delhi, Nirbhaya and her friend were returning from a movie theatre, were waiting for a bus. One of the people from the bus might be the culprit convinced them to get on an empty bus with tinctured windows. They were assaulted by six males, one of whom was a minor, aged 17. The male friend, when tried to protect his friend Nirbhaya, was beaten up by the perpetrators. Nirbhaya was not just sexually assaulted, but her body was also mutilated beyond human imagination. It came to know that one of the men who had convinced Nirbhaya to enter into the bus, was the only person who suggested the others that they should throw her and her friend’s naked bodies onto the street and run them over.
The male friend was recovered within a few days and Nirbhaya was at the same time going through emergency surgeries for that brutal rape, in which also her intestines were pulled out of her body. During her treatments, she was put on a ventilator as her condition was very critical. However, her health started even becoming more worsened, as she suffered from internal bleeding and cardiac arrest, After her this condition, she was then shifted to Mount Elizabeth Hospital in Singapore on December 26th. Where experts, confirmed that due to heavy internal bleeding and multiple organ failure, she was declared dead in the early hours of December 29,2012. Immediately after that incident, news started spreading and protests began in Delhi and all over the country.
The citizens of Delhi were so ignited by the tragedy that police resorted tear gas to control the crowds. In the initial weeks, “Hang the rapists” was the vigorous cry of the media. Nothing less than capital punishment would satisfy the anger of the public. In the political sphere, two Commissions of Inquiry, the Justice Verma Committee and the Usha Mehra Committee, were constituted as a direct consequence of the rape and subsequent outrage about the incident, their purpose was to seek a public opinion as to how the then-current anti-rape laws should be amended. The Criminal Law (Amendment) Act 2013 was passed as a result of the Verma Committee Report three months after the rape. This act encompasses over a dozen amendments in different laws, including the Indian Penal Code, the Code of Criminal Procedure, and the Indian Evidence Act.
Besides, the government launched the Nirbhaya Fund venture design to guarantee the security of women utilizing open transportation by setting up emergency buttons, GPS technology, and CCTVs in significant cities across the country. Clearly, the reaction to this Delhi gang-rape case was uncommon and unprecedented. Maybe there was a development of social strain that finally exploded when this rape happened. Perhaps it was the sheer brutality of the event which was even beyond human-foresight.
In 2013, Delhi High Court finally upheld her decision by charging the accused under the charge for rape and murder under the provision of Indian Penal Code. But, during the arrest, one of the offenders, Ram Singh, died in police guardianship in March 2013. On September 10, 2013, the four remaining wrongdoers were found as liable of rape and murder and after three days, they were sentenced to death by hanging. The juvenile was convicted for rape and murder and given the maximum sentence of three years’ imprisonment and in this manner lending justice to the family of the victim and all the women in the nation by confirming the punishment of death sentence to all the four convicts in the Nirbhaya gang rape and murder case, naming it as the ‘rarest of rare’, most merciless and barbaric attack on the 23-year-old paramedical student. The convicts utilized the victim as an object of pleasure and abused her to the most exceedingly terrible level.
After lot tolerance and trust, justice was again revised but not denied. On March 2020, after a ton of petitions, at long last justice was done and the four convicts were hanged to death at 5:30 AM in Tihar prison in Delhi.
Law is dynamic; it changes with the need of society and level of crime. After various milestone judgment, reports and recommendation, the criminal justice system has developed. Since, past years, crime was neither at the top nor the criminal justice too active. Be now after facing these crimes, it is important to gear up, with the system of justice, by an increasing number of judges, police officials and by reducing the number of pending cases. The pendency of cases and the myth that the Court listens to the higher class individuals brings down the certainty and trust in the common people and society at large.
Cases should be judged and suspended according to priority basis. Everyone has the right to justice, and courts, police and all should help the victims in attaining those rights, by spreading awareness and trust. Law and justice are made for the protection of people and their rights. At the end, I want to conclude, that “Injustice anywhere is a threat to justice everywhere.” So, it is our justice system, we have to maintain it.
[i] Criminal Justice System of India- Is it time to implement the Malimath Committee Report? available at: http://www.clearias.com/criminal-justice-system-in-india/ .
[iv] A Road Map for Criminal Justice System available on: http://www.drishtiias.com/daily-updates/daily-news-editorials/a-road-map-for-criminal-justice-system .
- What is the meaning of the Criminal Justice System?
- What is the need for reforms in Criminal Justice in need?
- What are the reforms, which were implemented by the government?
- Is it valid to term Justice delayed is Justice denied?