Malimath Committee Recommendations : Important Topics for UPSC Exams


Malimath Committee Recommendations : Important Topics for UPSC Exams


Context:

Government has decided to review the recommendations of Malimath committee on India’s criminal justice system

WHAT is Criminal justice system?

Criminal justice system refers to the collective institutions through which an accused offender passes until the accusations have been disposed of or the assessed punishment concluded. The criminal justice system is essentially an instrument of social control.

Parts of criminal justice system :

  1. Law enforcement (Police , Sheriffs etc)
  2. Adjudication  (Courts : judges, prosecutors , defense lawyers)
  3. corrections (prison officials, probation officers, and parole officers)
  • The system is administered with the help of Criminal law whose object is to protect society against Criminals and law breakers.
  • Therefore the two main statues which deals with administration of criminal cases in our country are criminal procedure code i.e. CrPc and Indian penal code i.e. IPC.
  • The procedure of administration of criminal justice in our country is divided into three stages namely investigation, inquiry and trial.  

Major Objectives of criminal justice system : 

  1. Prevent occurrence of crime.

  2. To punish transgressors and criminals

  3. Rehabilitate transgressors

  4. Compensate victims

  5. Maintain law and order

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Problems of India’s criminal justice system :

1. India has many crimes but very few criminals, according to crime statistics. The criminal justice system in place is unable to apprehend them, put them on trial with proper evidence and get them convicted even after spending much time, money and human resources.

2. Personnel of the law (POLICE):

  • Not sufficiently motivated and adequately trained for the job with accountability for performance.

  • Political interference and infrastructural deficiencies.

  • Police officers face excessive workload due to lack of manpower

3. PROSECUTORS:

  • The appointment to these positions is often patronage to party  

           workers and sympathizers in the profession

  • They are also paid much below the market rates for their services.

4. COURTS:

  • Subjectivity pervades the system and judge’s professionalism.

  • The trial courts grant frequent adjournments on flimsy grounds.

  • System carries certain unwritten principles, which work in favor of criminals under the adversarial processes. These principles include “proof beyond reasonable doubt”, “the benefit of the doubt to the accused”, “burden of proof on the prosecution”.

  • Low judge population ratio because of which the pendency of work increases.

Consequences :

  1. Erosion of faith in the enforcement and legal mechanisms as also noted by 239th law commission report: This manifests itself in mob violence, khap panchayats and parallel illegal and unofficial justice mechanisms .

  2. Thousands of under-trial prisoners are kept in overcrowded jails pending investigation and trial.

  3. Cases involving the security of the country and safety of women and children are getting delayed enabling evidence to disappear in the process.

  4. Many from weaker sections of society are unable to get bail or proper legal assistance Ex:  More than 50% of people in jails were dalits, muslims and tribal people in 2013 according to NCRB(National Crime Record Bureau) despite that their proportion in population is around 39%.

  5. Delayed justice also amount to justice denied.

  6. Weakness of system was brought to fore in the recent Arushi murder case where following the long trial , The Allahabad High court acquitted the parents on basis of shoddy investigations and contradictory conclusions

Key Recommendations of MALIMATH COMMITTEE:

  1. Borrowing from inquisitorial system : The committee recommended that courts be bestowed powers to summon any person whether or not listed as witness for examination
  2. Right to silence : The Committee suggested that the court be given freedom to question the accused to elicit information and draw an adverse inference against the accused in case the latter refuses to answer.

  3. Rights of the accused : Code be brought out in all regional languages so that the accused knows his/her rights.

  4. Presumption of innocence : The courts follow “proof beyond reasonable doubt” as the basis to convict an accused in criminal cases. This, the committee felt, gives “very unreasonable burden'” on the prosecution and hence suggested that a fact be considered as proven “if the court is convinced that it is true” after evaluating the matters before it.

  5. Justice to victims of crime :

  • The State should provide an advocate of victim’s choice to plead on his/her behalf and the cost has to be borne by the State if the victim can’t afford it.

  • Victim compensation is a State obligation in all serious crimes

  • Victim Compensation Fund can be created.

  1. Police investigation :

  • Hiving off the investigation wing from Law and Order.

  • Setting up of a National Security Commission and State Security Commissions.

  • Setting up of a Police Establishment Board to deal with posting, transfers, and so on.

(These recommendations are in line with Supreme court’s recommendations in PRAKASH SINGH case on police reforms)

  1. Courts and judges:

  • The ratio is 19.66 per million people as of 2017, as against 50 judges per million population in many parts of the world.

  • The higher courts, including the Supreme Court, should have a separate criminal division consisting of judges who have specialised in criminal law.

  1. Witness protection:

It also has laid recommendations for humanitarian angle to the reforms by recommending permanent statutory committee to prescribe sentencing guidelines and reforms regarding offenses against women. It also calls for periodic review of the entire criminal justice system.

 

Concerns with the recommendations :

  1. One of the controversial recommendation wants confessions to the police admissible in court as evidence if a senior police office of Superintendent of Police(SP) rank or above signs off on the statement.

  • Confessions to police have repeatedly come under scrutiny because of allegations of custodial torture, instances of custodial deaths, fake encounters and tampering with evidence.

  1. Other recommendation suggests slightly lowering the criteria for appreciating evidence from the extant “proof beyond reasonable doubt” to improve the conviction rate.

  • Diluting the proof beyond reasonable doubt precept will prove to be counterproductive.

Other major reforms suggested by the committee are forward looking and aims to revamp the criminal justice system of india by making it more victim friendly and citizen oriented and calls for structural reforms in the judiciary, police and prosecution.

WAY  FORWARD:

Appointing more judges and police personnel, deploying scientific techniques, beefing up forensic labs, and other infrastructure investments is the need of the hour.

Recommendations could be implemented in blocks of dozen, spread over a definite time period

MCQ’s

1. Historic Prakash singh judgemen of the Supreme Court is significant for which of the following ?

  1. Reforms in Coal Allocation

  2. Police reforms

  3. Doctrine of colorable legislation

  4. Removal of governor

Correct Answer : B

2. Malimath committee, recently in news is related with which of the following?

  1. Electricity sector

  2. Financial sector

  3. Criminal Justice

  4. Banking reforms

Correct Answer : C

3. Which of the following statements regarding india’s criminal justice system is/are correct?

  1. Indian courts follow the principle of “Beyond reasonable doubt” as the basis to convict an accused.

  2. The courts under the present system have a power to summon any person whether or not listed as witness for examination.

  1. 1 only

  2. 2 only

  3. Both 1 and 2

  4. None of the above

Correct Answer : A

MAINS QUESTIONS

1. India’s is often described as a country with many crimes but no criminals. In light of the above statement portray the problematic scenario in the present system. What reforms do you think will help in improving the conviction rate? (15)

2. The government is considering Malimath committee report years after it gave report. Do you think it will improve India’s criminal justice system. Examine. (15)

3. Why do you think is it important to have a robust criminal justice system in the country? What can be done to improve it in India’s case. (10)   

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