The need to reform the criminal justice system

In the past, the encounter deaths of four accused of rape have once again brought issues like ‘extra judicial killing’, ‘fake encounter’ and ‘instant justice’ in the country. Meanwhile, the Uttar Pradesh Police has also claimed that 103 culprits have died and around 1,859 injured in a total of 5,178 encounters in the state in the last two years. In view of the increasing incidence of extra judicial killing, it can be clearly said that the country’s criminal justice system is almost on the verge of collapse and the common man has lost faith in it. Experts say that at such a time it is necessary that the government improves the criminal justice system as much as possible so that the trust of the common citizen can be restored once again on the judicial system of the country.

Meaning of criminal justice system

  • The criminal justice system refers to those agencies of the government working to enforce laws, pass judgments on criminal cases and improve criminal conduct.
  • In fact, the criminal justice system is an instrument of social control, because society considers certain behaviors to be so dangerous and destructive that it tries its best to control them.
  • The act of preventing, controlling and punishing those who do this is done by judicial institutions.
criminal justice system

There are basically 3 elements of the criminal justice system:

  • Law Enforcement: Law enforcement agencies report crimes in their designated jurisdiction and conduct investigations in this regard. Also, their task is to collect and protect all the criminal evidence. It is noteworthy that law enforcement agencies are considered to be an important part of the Indian criminal justice system.
  • Adjudication: Adjudication institutions are an integral part of the criminal justice system and are mainly divided into 3 parts:
  • Courts: Court actions are handled by judges. Their main task is to determine whether an accused has committed a crime or not and if punishment should be done.
  • Prosecution: Prosecutors are the lawyers who represent the state in the entire proceedings of the court. The prosecutor reviews the evidence gathered by law enforcement agencies and decides whether the case should be dropped or the case should be filed.
  • Defense Advocate: They represent the accused in the court against the lawsuit filed by the government. For the trial of the court, the defense appoints these lawyers on some remuneration, but if the accused is not competent for this work then it is also appointed by the court.
  • Correctional home or imprisonment: The main function of this institution is to monitor the criminals convicted by the court and provide them basic facilities.

The purpose of the criminal justice system

  • Preventing Criminal Incidents.
  • Punishing criminals.
  • To arrange rehabilitation of criminals.
  • Compensation of victims as much as possible.
  • Maintaining law and order in the society.

Development of criminal justice system

  • India has a long history of criminal justice. In this context, various systems evolved in ancient times and various rulers tried as much as possible to implement them.
  • It is known that the codification of criminal laws in India was done during the British rule, which is more or less the same in the 21st century.
  • Lord Warren Hasting (1774–85) first identified the flaws and inequalities of the then prevalent Muslim criminal justice system.
  • The biggest change in this context, however, came with the creation of the Indian Penal Code. The Indian Penal Code (IPC) was created in the year 1860 based on the recommendations of the First Law Commission of India, constituted under the chairmanship of Lord Thomas Macaulay.
  • In addition, the Code of Criminal Procedure (CrPC) was enacted in the year 1973 and implemented in 1974.
justice system

The need to reform the criminal justice system

Law enforcement

  • The image of the police in most of the states in the country has been as an organization that misuses their rights rather than being friendly with the public.
  • Corruption has spread like infectious disease in our country today. When corruption has become a part of our life, then how can the police system remain untouched by it. It is necessary to improve our police system and keep it in tune with the changing times.
  • According to statistics, an average police officer works for about 14 hours a day, while the Model Police Act recommends only 8 hours of duty. In a report released in September this year, every other policeman had said that there would not be a single holiday in the week.
  • Apart from excessive workload, the police department also has to face lack of necessary resources. Some police stations also lack basic facilities like drinking water, clean toilets, transport, adequate staff and money for regular purchases.
  • It is noteworthy that India’s ranking in the Rule of Law Index released by the World Justice Project is 68 in 126 countries.


  • According to the Economic Survey 2018-19, there are about 3.5 crore cases pending in the judicial system. More than 80 percent of these total pending cases are in the district and subordinate courts.
  • The main reason of pending cases is lack of courts in India, shortage of sanctioned posts of judges and vacancy of posts.
  • According to the National Judicial Data Grid, more than 2 million criminal cases have been pending in district courts and high courts for more than 10 years.
  • Talking only about rape related cases, NCRB statistics for the year 2017 show that a total of 1.27 lakh cases of rape in the country are pending in courts at various stages.
  • According to the 2011 census, there are only 18 judges per 10 lakh people in the country. In a report of the Law Commission, it was recommended that the number of judges should be about 50 per 10 lakh population.
  • Significantly, to reach this position, the number of posts will have to be increased threefold.
  • According to the Indian Justice Report released in November this year, about 23 percent of the total sanctioned posts of judges across the country are vacant. It is noteworthy that India spends only 0.08 percent of its total budget on judiciary.
  • The Indian Justice report also revealed that in the year 2017-18, the per capita expenditure on legal aid in the country was only 0.75 rupees per year.

Reform house or imprisonment

  • Statistics from the National Crime Records Bureau-NCRB show that in 2015 Indian prisons had 14 times more prisoners than capacity. There has been a steady increase in these figures even after the year 2015, but the worrying situation is that there has been no significant increase in the number of jails during this period.
  • From the above figures it is clear that the condition of prisoners in jails is very bad. According to Jail Statistics 2015, a total of 1,584 people died in the year 2015 due to poor prison conditions.
  • According to experts, a large number of cases pending in the courts are the main reason for the poor condition of the jails and the excess inmates. In the year 2017, the government had informed that the number of pending cases in Indian courts has increased to more than 26 million.
  • In the context of prison reform, many social activists have raised the question that Indian politicians do not pay attention to this only because prisoners in prisons do not come under their vote bank limit.

Major Committees on Criminal Justice System

Malimath Committee

In order to reform India’s Criminal Justice System (CJS), the Government had constituted the Malimath Committee in the year 2000, it is worth mentioning that this committee submitted its report in the year 2003 and suggested 158 changes in the Indian criminal justice system, but The recommendations of this committee were not implemented.
The committee had said that the current Indian justice system is ‘more focused on punishing the accused than on bringing justice to the victims’.


Major recommendations of the committee

  • The committee had suggested to set up a National Judicial Commission for appointment of judges in the High Courts and to simplify the process of impeachment of judges by amending Article 124.
  • The High Courts should have a separate criminal division in which only a judge specializing in criminal law is appointed.
  • The committee’s recommendation was that the court should have the right to summon any person, if it is felt necessary, whether it is listed as a witness or not.
  • The committee also recommended increasing the number of judges and courts.
  • According to the committee, a separate witness protection law should be enacted to ensure the safety of witnesses.
  • Also included were recommendations such as bringing federal legislation to deal with interstate and international crimes, and the provision of life imprisonment for rapists instead of capital punishment.

Madhav Menon Committee

The Madhav Menon Committee on Criminal Justice Reform submitted its report in the year 2007. Significantly, this four-member committee was formed to draft a national policy paper on the criminal justice system.

indian criminal justice system

Key recommendations

  • This committee talked about reforming the entire criminal justice process.
  • It suggested setting up of a separate authority at the national level to deal with crimes that endanger the security of the country.

Road ahead

  • The present form of the Indian judicial system is more or less based on jurisprudence created by the British government, which was primarily aimed at ruling a country. That is why the relevance of this system built in the 19th century is worthy of debate in the 21st century.
  • We have to recognize the dividing line between ‘speedy justice’ and ‘speedy injustice’ and remember that our society is governed by law and constitution, in which all are presumed innocent as long as the charges leveled against them Is not proven through a fair legal process.
  • The Indian judicial system needs procedural changes to make it more effective.
  • Procedural change means simplifying a system that has become more authoritarian.
  • All stakeholders should identify problems and make all possible efforts to solve the problem.

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