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How To Improve Indian Criminal Justice System

How To Improve Indian Criminal Justice System

By Ayushi Gupta

 Law is a tool to provide justice in order to attain good governance but passage of time has taken a toll over the notion of “justice.” The basic premise of law seems to be reduced as a mere rope of sand. The exponential increase in the crime rate manifest no discernible effect on the criminals with the law put in place. Furthermore, Criminal justice system acts as a saviour for the criminals as they are free to flee with delayed trails or else they are elected as our representatives in the parliament. Ironically, the fundamental ingredient in criminal law i.e., intention and presumption of innocence have lost it’s essence in delivering justice. In Arushi Talwar - Hemraj case[1], the mismanagement of CBI, tampering of evidences and conviction of Rajesh and Nupur Talwar makes it evident that, Indian Criminal Justice System requires pragmatic approach rather than just focusing on the legality. In the said case, there were no evidence that were beyond reasonable doubt against the accused still they were convicted and later acquitted by the court. In the case of Nambi Narayanan[2], he was falsely accused in 1994 was put behind the bars for 50 days wherein, he was tortured and later on, acquitted by the court on being guilty. Later, National Human Right Commission ordered the state to provide him compensation of amount 1 crore but it no compensation was given. Isn’t it a mockery on the law keepers? Wrongful convictions are caused due to improper investigation conducted by the investigation agency.[3] Moreover, custodial violence is another aspect that shatters the faith in criminal justice system. What if, the convicts under trial are innocent are died inside due to custodial violence? Paying them compensation will solve the purpose of the victims but, does the law only rest on compensating for the crime or to deter the crime in the first place?  There is need for improvisation in the court procedure to tackle with the issue of delay in under trails etc. Many lives are at cost and the sanctity of the issue must be cynosured. The jurisprudential principles of criminal justice system of India is based on reformative theory[4]. The theory seeks to provide reformation to the criminals as they do not cease to exist as  humans beings after committing a crime. The reasoning behind this criminal behaviour of the offender can be multi facet which may be justified but are not legal and therefore, they should be given a chance for reformation. In Contrast, death penalty[5] acts as an exception to the principle of reformation which is debatable on the ground that, it is inhumane. How is law suppose to reform the offender who is not guilty after committing brutal crime?  The documentary “India’s Daughter” on Nirbhaya Rape Case is an instance wherein, the rapist disgracefully comments on the behviour of the victim which provoked them to commit rape. After knowing the brutality of the offence committed, don’t they deserve death penalty? Does reformation in India really happening? Because, increase in number of crime rate tells a different story all together.

 While the criminal justice system is struggling to revamp the criminal legislations, more and more dimensions in the society are changing and it’s becoming harder to bring the laws in the  equilibrium? With continuous evolution of technology, it has been witnessed with a whole lot of different crimes like cyber crimes which is an example of how the nomenclature of the legislations should keep on changing with pace Despite emphatic decisions by the Supreme Court on adultery, prisoners rights etc, the changes which must be made a century ago are dealt with delay and henceforth loses its significance and it seems as a drop in the ocean. Various instances in which Supreme Court has ordered to set up a committee to deal with the issues regarding improvement in Indian Criminal Justice System has went futile. Malimath Committee[6] which was set up in 24th November 2000, headed by Justice V. Malimath. There were 158 recommendations made by the committee in 2013. Till now, there has been no implementation of the changes put forth. This shows the caveat in the administration of the system and poses a question, how do we intend to reform the offenders when we can’t reform our own system? The committee set up for prison reform[7] is another example for failure when resorted to its implementation. In Prison Statistics India 2015 report, it has been asserted by the National Crime Record Bureau[8] that, Out of 1,401 jails, 149 jails has a overcrowding rate of 200 % and more. Isn’t it daunting? The basic human right to live is taken over and is exploited. Even prisoners have right which must be ascertained and negation of those rights should amount to infringement of their rights.[9] Regardless of the fact that it contravenes our constitution, no one is willing to act upon it. The lawmakers itself do not work in consonance with the law, how are the people suppose to follow the law. This erred implementation of law and failure to provide the people with justice is a demonstration of lack in good governance. It’s a need for an hour to ask for answers and start questioning the functioning and administration of the system. As much as the duty lies on legislature and judiciary to bring changes, we as citizens of India has a prominent role to act as a driving force for shifting those changes from a piece of paper to enforcing it. The framework of the Indian Criminal Justice System must undergo reformation on an urgent basis in order to achieve the motive of having these legislations in the first place and to restoring the faith of the public in the system which seems to have been diminished over the period of time.


[1] NDTV, “ Aarushi talwar murder case verdict, Arun Nair 12th October 2017.

[2] The Economic Times, “View: Why there is an urgent need to reform India's judicial system”, T K Arun 6th Feb, 2018.

[3] Oxford Human Rights Hub, “Criminal Justice and the Death Penalty in India: An Opinion Study with 60 Former Supreme Court Judges”, Neetika Vishwanath 14th February 2018.

[4] Academike, “ Reformative Theory of Punishment”, Tanu Priya 2nd September  2014.

[5] The Indian Express ,” SC: Death penalty breaches reformative theory of punishment”, Utkarsh Anand  8th April  2017.

[6] The hindu,” Government to revisit Malimath report on criminal justice system”, Vijata Singh 18th January 2018.

[7] FirstPost, “Supreme Court to set up committee headed by ex-judge on prison reform; focus to be on imprisoned mothers, their children”, Press Trust of India 9th Aug 2018.

[8] The Print, “In 2017-18, there were 5 custodial deaths per day in India, says report”, Sankaltia Dey 28th  June, 2018.

[9] The hindu, “Ripe for prison reform”, R.K. Rajhavan  23th October 2018.

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