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Criminal justice system

Background:-

  • The avalanche of social and technological changes fuelled by the internet and the new social media are fast changing the nature, intensity and the reach of crime leading to unprecedented lawlessness and frightening dimensions of global terrorism.
  • There is an urgent need to strengthen Criminal Justice System and grassroots level policing institutions to prepare police to deal with the present and emerging challenges
  • Criminal justice system is the set of agencies and processes established by governments to control crime and impose penalties on those who violate laws

Issues with present police :-

  • An overburdened police force :-
    • Police force is over burdened especially at lower levels where constabulary is forced to work continuously 14-16 hrs and also for 7 days a week. It adversely impacts their performance.
    • While the  sanctioned police strength was 181 police per lakh persons in 2016 when the United Nations recommended standard is 222 police per lakh persons.
    • 86% of the state police comprises of constabulary. Constables are typically promoted once during their service. This could weaken their incentive to perform well.
  • Improving police infrastructure 
    • Failure of police infrastructure like vehicles, weaponry. Also audits have found that the POLNET network is non-functional in various states.
      • For example, an audit of the Gujarat police force reported that the network had not been  operationalised till October 2015 due to non-installation of essential infrastructure, such as remote subscriber units and generator sets.
    • Funds dedicated for modernisation of infrastructure are typically not utilised fully. For example, in 2015-16, only 14% of such funds were used by the states.
  • Political influence :-
    • Second Administrative Reforms Commission has noted that ministers have used police forces for personal and political reasons.
  • Police accountability :-
    • Police forces have the authority to exercise force to enforce laws and maintain law and order in a state. However, this power may be misused in several ways.
  • Poor quality of investigation:-
    • Crime per lakh population has increased by 28% over the last decade (2005-2015). However, convictions have been low. So it shows the poor quality of investigation.
    • The Law Commission and the Second Administrative Reforms Commission have noted that state police officers often neglect investigation because they are understaffed and overburdened with various kinds of tasks.
    • Further, they lack the training and the expertise required to  conduct professional investigations.
    • They also have insufficient legal knowledge and the forensic and cyber infrastructure available to them is both inadequate and outdated. In light of this, police forces may use force and torture to secure evidence.
    • Crime investigations may be influenced by political or other extraneous considerations
  • Forensic labs:-
    • Expert bodies have however said that these laboratories are short of funds and qualified staff. Further, there is indiscriminate referencing of cases to these labs resulting in high pendency.
  • Lack of co-ordination between centre and states is matter related to maintenance of law & order results in ineffective functioning of police force.
  • Police force is not in the position to tackle present problems of cyber crime, global terrorism, naxalism because of structural weaknesses.
  • Prevalence of Rank system within the police force results in abuse of powerby top level executive over lower level personnel.

Reforms needed:-

  • Directions of the Supreme Court in Prakash Singh vs Union of India :-
    • The Supreme Court ordered the centre and states to set up authorities to lay down guidelines for police functioning, evaluate police performance, decide postings and transfers, and receive complaints of police misconduct.
    • The court also required that minimum tenure of service be guaranteed to key police officers to protect them from arbitrary transfers and postings.
  • Investigation :-
    • Experts have recommended that states must have their own specialized investigation units within the police force that are responsible for crime investigation.
  • The Second Administrative Reforms Commission has recommended that one way to reduce the burden of  the police forces could be to outsource or redistribute some non-core police functions(such as traffic management, disaster rescue and relief, and issuing of court summons) to government departments or private agencies.
  • Padmanabhaiah commission :-
    • It has also been recommended that constables, and the police force in general, should receive greater training in soft skills given they need to deal with the public regularly.
  • Housing:
    • Importance of providing housing to the constabulary (and generally to the police force) to improve their efficiency and incentive to accept remote postings has also been emphasised by expert bodies, such as the National Police Commission.

4 thoughts on “Criminal justice system”

  1. A post worth a million thoughts for the nation. But not only limited to the police. Its all a vicious circle. Like for example recently it was revealed that India has a minimum of just 3 laboratories for DNA sampling. Just three in a hug nation like India. And due to this shortage so many cases which can easily be solved with evidences of DNA etc can be resolved within seconds. More than half of our police is deployed for the politicians and not the common man. Its all in the system… Everywhere.
    Great post and great efforts in the above post. Keep Glittering… From TGA by Misha 👍😊

    Liked by 1 person

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