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The Pending Legal Needs in India's Criminal Justice System - A Rethinking BY - Radhika Dwivedi

The Pending Legal Needs in India's Criminal Justice System - A Rethinking


Authored BY - Radhika Dwivedi



In India, only about 16 out of every 100 people arrested for criminal offenses get convicted. The low percentage of conviction reflects the ineptitude of India's Criminal Justice System, which includes the police, prosecutors, and judges. As a result, many people have lost faith in India's criminal justice system, which is extremely dangerous. The Indian government has considered reconsidering the Malimath Committee Report on Reforms in the Indian Criminal Justice System[1] (2003).



The Criminal Justice System (CJS) consists of the institutions/agencies and processes established by a government to combat crime in the country. This includes elements such as police and courts. The goal of the Criminal Justice System (CJS) is to defend individuals' and society's rights and personal liberty from invasion by others. The Indian Penal Code of 1860, the Protection of Civil Rights Act of 1955, the Dowry Prohibition Act of 1961, and the Scheduled Castes and Scheduled Tribes (Prevention of Atrocities) Act of 1989 are all sources of criminal law in India. CJS has the authority to impose fines on people who break the established laws. The concurrent list of the seventh schedule of the constitution includes criminal law and criminal procedure.



The Indian Criminal Justice System is a centuries-old system based mostly on the Penal legal system created by British rule in India. Even after 70 years of independence, the system has not seen significant modifications. The most egregious example could be Section 124A of the Indian Penal Code (IPC), which defines and punishes sedition. In 1973, the entire Code of Criminal Procedure (Cr.P.C.) was modified. The formation of the Vohra Committee was India's first attempt at revamping the criminal justice system. The Vohra Committee report (1993) made a comment on the criminalization of politics and the relationship between criminals, politicians, and bureaucrats in India. In 2000, the government appointed a group led by former Chief Judicial of Kerala and Karnataka, Justice V.S. Malimath, to recommend reforms to the century-old criminal justice system. The Malimath Committee issued a report in 2003 with 158 suggestions, but none were followed. The Committee believed that the current system "favoured the accused and did not appropriately focus on justice for crime victims."



In India, only approximately 16% of those arrested for criminal offenses get convicted. The low conviction rate reflects the ineptitude of India's Criminal Justice System, which includes the police, prosecutors, and court." quote= "In India, only approximately 16% of persons arrested for criminal offenses get convicted. The low percentage of conviction reflects the ineptitude of India's Criminal Justice System, which includes the police, prosecutors, and judges.


The system has become ineffective: - The CJS was established by the state to defend the rights of the innocent and punish the guilty, but the system, which is based on century-old outdated legislation, has resulted in harassment of people by government agencies as well as pressure on the judges.


Inefficiency in justice delivery: -  The system takes years to bring justice and has lost its effectiveness in deterring criminals. There is a lack of coordination between the judges, the prosecution, and the police. In a vast proportion of situations, the guilty go unpunished. On the contrary, many innocent persons are still held as under trail detainees. According to NCRB data, undertrials make up 67.2% of our overall jail population.


Complex nature of the crime: -  Crime has expanded significantly, and the form of crime is getting increasingly sophisticated as a result of technology advancements.


Investigation incapability: -  It resulted in a delay or haphazard investigation of crimes, which contributed significantly to the delay in dispensing speedy justice.


Inequality in the justice: -  Even in cases of major crimes, the rich and powerful are rarely prosecuted. Furthermore, the rising link between crime and politics has brought a new dimension to the crime picture.


The lowered confidence of common man: - The legal system has become convoluted and costly. Mob violence is becoming more common.



Some of the important recommendations of the committee were[2]: -


  • Courts and Judges: -  More judges are needed in the country.


  • National Judicial Commission: - The establishment of a National Judicial Commission to handle the appointment of judges to higher courts, as well as the amendment of Article 124 to make impeachment of judges easier.


  • Separate criminal division in higher courts: - The upper courts should establish a separate criminal section comprised of criminal law specialists.


  • The inquisitorial system of investigation: - The inquisitorial system, as practiced in Germany and France, should be followed.


  • Power for courts to summon any person: - The court has the authority to summon anyone, whether or not they are named as witnesses, if it deems it necessary.


  • Right to silence: - A change to Article 20 (3) of the Constitution that prevents the accused from being forced to testify against himself or herself. The court should be allowed to question the accused in order to elicit information and draw a negative inference against the accused if the latter refuses to answer.


  • The right of accused: -  A schedule to the Code be published in all regional languages to inform the accused of his or her rights and how to enforce them.


  • Presumption of Innocence: In criminal proceedings, the courts employ "evidence beyond reasonable doubt" as the foundation for convicting an accused, which places an unreasonable burden on the prosecution, and thus a fact should be regarded proven "if the court is certain that it is true" after assessing the materials before it.


  • Justice to the victim: The victim should be able to participate in serious crime proceedings and get adequate recompense. If the victim is deceased, the legal representative has the right to intervene as a party in the case of significant offenses. The state should offer an advocate of the victim's choice to plead on his or her behalf, and the state should bear the expense if the victim cannot afford it.


  • Victim Compensation Fund: Under the victim compensation statute, a Victim Compensation Fund can be established, and assets recovered from organized crime can be included in the fund.


  • Police Investigation: Separating Law and Order's investigation wing.


  • National Security Commission and State Security Commissions: The formation of a National Security Commission as well as state security commissions.


  • SP in each district: Appointment of a Special Agent in each area to monitor crime data, as well as the formation of specialized squads to combat organized crime.


  • Director of Prosecution: Every state should establish a new position of Director of Prosecution to promote effective cooperation between investigating and prosecuting authorities.


  • Witness protection: The use of deathbed declarations, confessions, and audio/video recorded witness statements should be legalized. A strong witness protection framework should be in place. Witnesses must be handled with respect.


  • Arrears Eradication Scheme: To prioritize the resolution of cases that have been outstanding for more than two years through Lok Adalat.


  • Offences classification: Instead of the current classification of cognisable and non-cognisable, it should be changed to the social welfare code, correctional code, criminal code, and economic and other offences code.


  • Substitution of death sentence: Replace by life imprisonment without commutation or remission.


  • Central law for organized crime and terrorism: Despite the fact that crime is a state issue, a federal legislation must be developed to deal with organized crime, federal crimes, and terrorism.


  • Periodic review: A Presidential Commission was recommended for a periodic evaluation of the Criminal Justice System's operation.



  • According to the Malimath Committee findings, admissions made to a senior police officer (SP rank or higher) should be admissible as evidence. Confessions to police have often come under scrutiny due to reports of custodial torture, custodial deaths, fabricated encounters, and evidence tampering.


  • The paper suggests lowering the bar of proof to less than "beyond reasonable doubt." It indicates that if a proof is sufficient to persuade the court that something is true, it can be termed standard proof. Such a step would have negative consequences for suspects and would necessitate extensive discussion.



  • The administration has implemented a number of recommendations, including as allowing videotaping of remarks, expanding the definition of rape, and adding new offenses against women. Victim compensation is now a legal requirement.


  • The government has repealed over 1000 outdated laws that were impeding administration.
  • The government is drafting a new Memorandum of Procedure (MoP) for the appointment of High Court and Supreme Court judges.


  • The government has given its assent for the implementation of an umbrella project for the "Modernization of Police Forces" through the use of technology.


  • The Gram Nyayalayas and Lok Adalat’s were founded to give citizens with access to justice at their doorsteps.


  • The Legal Service Authority Act was created by Parliament with the goal of providing free and competent legal services to the less fortunate members of society[3].



  • Pendency of Cases: According to 2022 records, approximately 4.7 crore lawsuits are outstanding in Indian courts at various levels of the judiciary. More people and organizations are turning to the courts as the number of lawsuits rises. However, this increase is not reflected in the number of judges available to consider these cases.


  • Colonial Nature: In British colonial era, both substantive and procedural parts of the criminal justice system were constructed with the goal of dominating the nation in mind. Given this, the relevancy of these nineteenth-century regulations in the twenty-first century is disputed.


  • Slow Enforcement of Judicial Orders: Due to a lack of cooperation between the Judiciary and the Police, judgments frequently linger on paper rather than percolating to the ground[4].


For example, Section 66A of the Information Technology Act of 2000 imposed penalties for delivering offensive messages by computer or other communication equipment.

Even after the Supreme Court overturned Section 66A, police continued to make arrests. It demonstrates a lack of coordination and an inability to apply decisions on the ground.


  • Inhumane Behaviour Behind Bars: Critics have regularly complained about the apathetic, even inhumane behaviour of prison employees throughout the years. There have also been numerous cases of in-custody rapes and deaths, resulting in violations of inmates' human rights.


  • Language Barrier: English is the official language of the Supreme Court and High Court of India under the current constitutional framework, unless Parliament by statute determines otherwise. (See Article 348(1).


The intricacy of statutory language makes the legal system difficult to understand for persons with varied linguistic origins.


This linguistic barrier restricts their comprehension of their rights, exacerbates their lack of awareness, and effectively hinders them from seeking justice[5].



It is advisable to reread the committee recommendations in order to examine their potential implementation. However, the reforms should be implemented with caution and after thorough deliberation. Provisions such as lowering the threshold of proof or accepting confessions to senior police as evidence must be thoroughly debated.


The Supreme Court has already established standards for how the prosecution and police should work together to bring victims justice and punish the guilty.


The ideas upon which the justice system was formed should not be jeopardized by reforming the CJS. To make things easier for the average person, the regulations and procedures must be streamlined. The primary focus must be on police reforms, including the appointment of more judges, the use of scientific techniques, the expansion of forensic labs, and other infrastructural improvements.


[1] Kumar, A., 2022. Criminal Justice System of India - ClearIAS. [online] Available at: [Accessed 7 November 2022].


[2] Kumar, A., 2022. Criminal Justice System of India - ClearIAS. [online] Available at: [Accessed 7 November 2022].


[3] Kumar, A., 2022. Criminal Justice System of India - ClearIAS. [online] Available at: [Accessed 7 November 2022].


[4] Anon., 2022. Revitalising Indian Criminal Justice System. [online] Available at: [Accessed 7 November 2022].


[5] Anon., 2022. Revitalising Indian Criminal Justice System. [online] Available at: [Accessed 7 November 2022].



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