Editorial Notes

[Editorial Notes] A road map for criminal justice reforms

Criminal justice is directionless and in a state of policy ambiguity. Hence, India needs to draft a clear policy that should inform the changes to be envisaged in the IPC or CrPC.
By IASToppers
October 24, 2019

Contents

  • Introduction
  • Suggestions for amending IPC and CrPC
  • Conclusion

A road map for criminal justice reforms

For IASToppers’ Editorial Simplified Archive, click here 

Introduction

  • Home Minister of India recently said that the Bureau of Police Research and Development should work on a proposal to amend various sections of the Indian Penal Code (IPC) and the Code of Criminal Procedure (CrPC). The reason for this decision are not clear.

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  • Therefore, before introducing changes, the Home Ministry must first identify the provisions to be revised and provide a justification for doing so.

Suggestions for amending IPC and CrPC

Identifying the rights of crime victims

  • The focus should be given to identify the rights of crime victims. This includes the launch of victim and witness protection schemes, use of victim impact statements, advent of victim advocacy, increased victim participation in criminal trials, and enhanced access of victims to compensation and restitution.

Any changes should be based on criminal jurisprudence

  • Adding provisions for new offences and reworking of the existing classification of offences must be based on the principles of criminal jurisprudence.
  • For example, Criminal liability (a person who has committed a crime must pay to the society) could be evaluate better to assign the degree of punishments. New types of punishments like community service orders, restitution orders, and other aspects of reformative justice could also be brought in this fold.

Chapters and classification of offences should be reworked

  • Offences like criminal conspiracy, sedition, offences against coin and stamps etc. must be abolished or replaced.
  • In IPC, it is unnecessary to have hundreds of sections in the category of property offences. Even the chapters on offences against public servants, contempt of authority, public tranquility, and trespass can be narrowed.
  • New offences under a fresh classification scheme, like those suggested by the Malimath Committee on criminal justice reforms, can be introduced. Classification of offences must be done in a manner conducive to management of crimes in the future.

Need for Principled sentencing

  • Unprincipled criminalisation often leads to not only the creation of new offences, but also arbitrariness in the criminal justice system.
  • Hence, Principled sentencing is needed as judges at present have the discretion to decide the quantum and nature of sentence to be imposed and often sentence convicts differently for crimes of the same nature.

Conclusion

  • It is not that criminal laws do not need revision, but that they do not need unprincipled and unguided amendments. However, any revision of the IPC, therefore, needs to be done while keeping several principles in mind.
  • A Criminal Justice Reform Committee with a mandate to evolve criminal justice policy should be formed for this exercise. It should be in furtherance to the work done by the Menon Committee on Criminal Justice System, the Malimath Committee, and the Law Commission in India in this regard.

 

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