Criminal Justice System of India

Criminal Justice System of India

• This article can be read in context to above articles or independently as well. Here we will discuss about issues in criminal justice system that prompted for the reforms recently.

What is Criminal Justice System of India?
• The criminal justice system is the system of laws, institutions, and processes that deal with crime and its consequences. It aims to prevent crime, protect the public, punish offenders, and provide justice for victims.
• The criminal justice system varies from country to country, but generally it consists of three main components: law enforcement, courts, and corrections.
• The criminal justice system is based on certain principles and values, such as the rule of law, due process, human rights, presumption of innocence, equality before the law, and proportionality of punishment.

What are the issues in current criminal justice system of India?

Pendency of Cases

• According to the National Judicial Data Grid, there are over 4.7 crore cases pending in Indian courts across different levels of the judiciary. This leads to delays in justice delivery, violation of the right to speedy trial, and loss of public trust in the system.

Poor quality of Investigation and Prosecution

• The investigation and prosecution agencies often fail to conduct thorough, impartial, and professional investigations. They face interference from political and other influences, corruption, and lack of accountability.

Lack of accountability and cooperation

• India’s criminal justice mechanism suffers from a lack of judiciary’s accountability and non-cooperation between its investigation and prosecution wings, allowing criminals to go scot-free. Even if they are charged, they manage to wriggle out either due to botchy investigation or apathetic prosecution.

Inadequate use of technology and forensics

• The criminal justice system in India does not make optimal use of technology and forensics in investigation, evidence collection, and trial processes. This results in low quality of evidence, poor conviction rate, and increased chances of tampering and manipulation.

Overcrowding of prisons

• The prisons in India are overcrowded with undertrials, who constitute around 69% of the total prison population. This violates the principle of presumption of innocence, exposes them to harsh and inhuman conditions.

Complex and outdated laws

• The criminal laws in India are complex, outdated, and sometimes contradictory. They do not reflect the changing social realities and contemporary challenges. They also contain vague and broad provisions that give excessive discretion to the police and courts, leading to arbitrary and discriminatory application.

Which committees have worked and what suggestions have they given to reform Criminal justice system in India?

CommitteeReforms Suggested
Vohra Committee, 1993It suggested to deal with the increasing problem of criminalisation of politics and nexus between politicians, bureaucrats, criminals, and anti-social elements.
Malimath Committee, 2003Introducing a new category of offences called ‘social welfare offences’ for minor violations that can be dealt with by imposing fines or community service. Reducing the standard of proof required for conviction from ‘beyond reasonable doubt’ to ‘clear and convincing evidence’.
Supreme Court Directions on Police Reforms                                                                                                                                                The Supreme Court issued seven directives to ensure functional autonomy, accountability ,and professionalism of the police force. For example, Ensuring fixed tenure for Director General of Police, Setting up a State Security Commission.
Madhav Menon Committee, 2007Ensuring respect for human dignity and human rights in every stage of criminal justice. Promoting restorative justice that focuses on healing the harm caused by crime rather than inflicting punishment.
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