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June 22 @ 7:00 am - 11:30 pm


The criminal justice system (CJS) in India is a set of agencies and processes established to control crime and impose penalties on those who break the law 

The system is primarily based on the Indian Penal Code (IPC), enacted in 1860.  

The Constitution of India places the police, public order, courts, and prisons under the State List, but the Union laws are followed by the police, judiciary, and correctional institutions, which form the core organs of the CJS. 

Structure of the Criminal Justice System 

Investigation by Police 

  • Police conduct investigations under Section 161 of the Criminal Procedure Code, 1973. 
  • Officers question anyone who might know about the case and record their statements. 

Prosecution by Prosecutors 

  • Prosecutors charge an accused with a crime and attempt to prove their guilt in court. 

Determination of Guilt by the Courts 

  • Courts pronounce sentences using discretion, considering factors such as the offender’s background and the likelihood of reform. 

Correction through the Prison System 

  • Imprisonment aims at reforming and rehabilitating prisoners through education, labor, vocational training, yoga, and meditation. 

Challenges in the Indian Criminal Justice System 

Pendency of Cases 

  • As of July 2023, over 5 crore cases were pending across all courts in India. 
  • The majority (87.4%) are pending in subordinate courts, with 12.4% in High Courts and 78,400 cases in the Supreme Court. 

Judicial Vacancies 

  • India has only 21 judges per million people, far below the target of 50 judges per million. 
  • This shortage contributes to delays in the judicial process. 

Slow Progress in Fast-track Courts 

  • Many fast-track courts are existing courts with additional responsibilities, not newly established ones. 
  • This leads to inefficiency as judges manage regular and expedited cases simultaneously. 

Abuse of Power by Police 

  • Accusations of unwarranted arrests, unlawful imprisonment, wrongful searches, harassment, and custodial violence are common. 
  • Police are acquiring more power under various prevention laws. 

Complex Mechanisms 

  • The justice system is complicated and often inaccessible to marginalized people. 
  • Institutional focus rather than capacity building marginalizes vulnerable sections of society. 

Perceived Biases 

  • Adivasis, Christians, Dalits, Muslims, and Sikhs are over-represented in prisons compared to their population percentages. 

Human Rights Violations in Prisons 

  • Authorities often use physical force to extract confessions and investigate crimes. 
  • Custodial rape, molestation, and other forms of sexual abuse occur, particularly against women. 

Reforms for the Criminal Justice System 

Bail Reforms 

  • The principle that “bail should be the norm and jail the exception” requires strict enforcement. 
  • The Law Commission’s 268th Report calls for revisiting bail laws to reduce detention periods. 

Reviving Fast-track Courts 

  • Fast-track courts should focus on expeditious disposal of long-pending cases. 
  • New courts with proper infrastructure and dedicated judges are necessary. 

Legal Aid Reform 

  • Improve training, mentoring, and capacity building for young professionals in socio-legal services. 
  • Enhance the effectiveness of the CJS through better legal aid. 

Filling Judicial Vacancies 

  • Effective filling of judicial vacancies is crucial for a functional judicial system. 
  • Consider the All India Judicial Service (AIJS) for recruiting additional district judges and district judges. 

Application of AI in Criminal Case Management 

  • AI can assist in bail, sentencing, and parole decisions. 
  • AI can evaluate the risk of recidivism among offenders. 

Government Initiatives 

  • AI Portal SUPACE: Uses AI to assist in judicial functions. 
  • Modernization of Police Scheme: Focuses on modernizing police forces and practices. 
  • New Legislative Proposals: Bharatiya Nyaya Sanhita, Bharatiya Nagarik Suraksha Sanhita, and Bharatiya Sakshya Bill, 2023 aim to update and streamline legal processes. 

Commissions for CJS Reform 

  • National Police Commission (NPC): Recommended judicial inquiries for custodial deaths or rapes. 
  • Malimath Committee: Suggested separate police forces for maintaining law and order and for crime investigation. 
  • All India Jail Reforms Committee (Mulla Committee): Emphasized the recruitment of trained staff and establishment of a correctional service. 
  • Krishnan Iyer Committee: Advocated for the appointment of women staff to handle women and child offenders. 

Key Judicial Pronouncements 

  • Prakash Singh v. Union of India (2006): Directed the establishment of state security commissions to monitor police work and prevent undue influence. 
  • S.P. Anand v. State of Madhya Pradesh (2007): Affirmed prisoners’ basic rights to a healthy life despite restricted liberty. 
  • State of Gujarat v. High Court of Gujarat (1988): Held that prisoners should be paid reasonable wages for their work. 
  • Hussainara Khatoon v. Home Secretary, State of Bihar (1979): Declared that keeping undertrials in jail longer than their potential punishment violates their fundamental rights. 
  • Prem Shankar Shukla v. Delhi Administration (1980): Ruled that handcuffing accused persons is inhuman, unreasonable, and harsh. 


The Indian criminal justice system faces numerous challenges, including case backlogs, inefficiency, resource constraints, and human rights violations. However, ongoing reforms and initiatives aim to address these issues and ensure better access to justice, especially for marginalized communities. 


June 22
7:00 am - 11:30 pm
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