Challenges of Current Criminal Justice System in India
- Because of delay and uncertainties involved, it does not deter criminals.
- Punishments for those convicted are ineffective.
- Wide discretion to police and prosecution makes system vulnerable to corruption and manipulation.
- Ignores the real victim, leading them to resort to extralegal method seeking justice.
- Heavy economic burden on the state without the returns.
- System is overburdened with nearly 30 million criminal cases pending and with 10 million being added every year.
Strategy for Reform:
The Committee on the Reforms of Criminal Justice System in India (2003) suggests a three-fold strategy.
- First, procedural and substantive law needs a change based on changes in society and economy with the guiding principles being decriminalization and diversion.
- A suggestion under this could be dividing the penal code into four different codes: Social Offences Code, Correctional Offences Code, Economic Offences Code and Indian Penal Code.
- The Social Code includes matters of civil nature that can be settled without police intervention and prison terms through administrative processes.
- The Correctional Code includes offence punishable up to three years imprisonment where plea bargaining can be liberally invoked.
- Economic Code includes property offences, which affect financial stability of the country dealt with through combination of criminal and administrative strategies.
- Indian Penal Code will include only major crimes warranting ten years imprisonment or more or death.
- Second is the institutional reform of police processes.
- This includes investigation, professionalization, rationalization of court systems through technology and limiting appeal procedures to the minimum.
- Third is giving a bigger and more responsible role to the victim in the whole procedure.
- It involves restoring the confidence of the victim in the system.
- This would include conferring rights on the victim like, participating in proceedings, right to engage an advocate, track progress of case, to assist court in pursuit of truth etc.
- Right to seek compensation for injuries suffered irrespective of the fate of proceedings.
- Following a restorative means which enjoys community support, victim satisfaction and offender acknowledgement of obligations.