“CRIMINAL JUSTICE SYSTEM AND LEGAL REFORMS IN INDIA"

Updated: Jul 6, 2020




No asset in our cultural heritage has been more precious than the sense of justice and the methods by which we have traditionally sought to fulfill it. We have accepted the rudimentary necessity of social control for the fair testing of man’s legal guilt of a crime. India saw a ‘marginal increase’ in the crime rate in the first forty-five days of 2018 as compared to the corresponding period of the previous year. Thus, the need of the hour is to reform the criminal justice system to protect the innocent and prevent the crime. The three main parts of the criminal justice system are Law enforcement agencies, (usually the Police and investigative agencies); Courts (and accompanying prosecution and defense lawyers); corrections system (Agencies for detaining and supervising offenders, such as prisons and probation agencies). The goals of the criminal justice system are to protect the citizens of the nation, with a special focus on the weaker section of the society from the uncongenial wrongs deliberately inflicted to cause harm to the vulnerable. Thus, maintaining peace and tranquility in the nation. However unprofessional investigations, problems with FIRs, real culprits not arrested, preventive arrests, delay in Courts, and various other aspects led to the failure of this system. Weak Criminal Justice System is encouraging corrupt practices in our country. Crime reduction ensures stability, security, and development. Thus, reformation of criminal justice is necessary to ensure justice to all and for the development of the nation.


PRECEDENTS AND JUDICIAL DECISIONS

In the case of Lalita Kumari vs. Government of UP & ORS,[1] the court issued the following directions,

(1) According to Section 154 of the code, it is mandatory to register an FIR in case of a cognizable offense with no preliminary inquiry.

(2) A preliminary inquiry may be conducted when the information does not disclose to be a cognizable offense.

(3) A copy of the entry of closure must be given to the complainant if the complaint is closed after the preliminary inquiry, within a week, disclosing the reasons for doing the same.

(4) If a cognizable offense is not registered, action can be taken against such an officer.

(5) A preliminary inquiry must not exceed 7 days. The cause and the fact of such delay must be mentioned in the General Diary Entry.

(6) All the cognizable offenses must be mandatorily reflected in the diary.

In the case of Prakash Singh & Ors vs. Union of India & Ors,[2] the apex issued the following guidelines for the reformation of police:[3]

(1) Constitution of the state security commission

(2) Merit-based transparent appointment of DGP with a minimum tenure of 2 years.

(3) Minimum tenure of two years for other police officers on operational duties.

(4) Separation of investigation and functions of police

(5) Setting up of Police Establishment Board.

(6) Setting up of Police Complaints Authority.

(7) Setting up of National Security Commission.

The process of investigation as laid down by the Supreme Court in the case of H.N.Risbud vs. the State of Delhi,[4]

(1) Spot-visit

(2) Ascertain the facts of the case

(3) Discover the suspected offender and arrest him

(4) Collection of evidence

(5) Examination of witnesses and their role in the investigation

(6) Search and seizure operations

(7) Take the necessary steps to file a charge sheet if there is a case against the accused.

IMPACT AND IMPLICATIONS

§ Formation of State Security Commission in sixteen states. However, only in a few states is the commission actually functioning. In most cases, it has been reduced to advisory bodies, thus removing the mandate envisaged for them.

§ Police Establishment Board was formed with an objective to decide service matters of the officers of and below the rank of the Deputy Superintendent of Police. However, the government retains grip on transfer by setting aside the recommendations made by the board. [5]

§ Police Complaint’s Authority has been formed in various states in response to the complaints, to make them accountable, and for the creation of a dedicated police force. But the acts governing the authority are flawed and not independent of governments, providing them ample scope to interfere with their functioning.[6]


§ Section 23 of the Kerala Police Act, 2011 separates investigation from law and order. However, the said provision remains in the statute book and no significant changes have been witnessed.


[1] (2008) 7 SCC 164 [2] 2006 (8) SCC 1 [3] Prakash Singh & Ors vs. Union Of India And Ors (Police Reforms Case): Guidelines framed by the Supreme Court of India on


Police Reforms, Law Briefs.in, http://lawbriefs.in/2017/06/01/prakash-singh-ors-vs-union-of-india-and-ors-police-reforms-case-guidelines-framed-by-the-supreme-court-of-india-on-police-reforms/ [4]N. Rishud v. State of Delhi, AIR 1955 SC 196: 1955 Cr LJ 526. See R. Deb, Police and Law Enforcement, S.C. Sarkar & Sons Pvt. Ltd., Calcutta, 1982, p. 62; Syed M. Afzal Qadri, Police and Law: A Socio-Legal Analysis, Gulshan Publishers, Srinagar, 1989, pp. 54-55, 59, 128-29; David H. Bayley, op. cit., p151. [5]In 2016, CM Devendra Fadnavis, Maharashtra, had set aside PEB recommendations in nine cases: Mohamed Thaver, Srinath Rao, Despite police board, the government retains grip on transfer, The Hindu Express, December 12, 2017 [6] Devika Prasad, Police Complaints Authority in India: A Rapid Study, Human Rights Initiative, http://www.humanrightsinitiative.org/publications/police/PCA_Rapid_Study_December_2012_FINAL.pdf



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