From UPSC perspective, the following things are important :
Prelims level : Not much.
Mains level : Judiciary, women’s safety.
Encounters, like the one in Telangana, call attention to a criminal justice system in need of urgent reform.
Question of instant injustice:
- Following the recent encounter in Telangana, the Uttar Pradesh police announced that in the last 2 years they have killed 103 criminals.
- Chhattisgarh encounter of June 2012 is an example of innocents being killed in extrajudicial killings.
- While these examples seem to raise the question of instant justice, they actually raise the question of instant injustice.
- We need to recognise this dividing line.
- Our progressive Constitution gives us the rule of law where everyone is presumed innocent until proven guilty through a fair trial.
What is wrong with our criminal justice system?
- Pendency of the cases is the biggest challenge.
- As per the National Judicial Data Grid, more than 20 lakh criminal cases are pending for more than 10 years in district courts and high courts.
- As per the National Crime Record Bureau (NCRB) (2017) report, 1.27 lakh cases of rape are pending in the courts at various stages.
- With 1840 pending for more than 10 years.
- More than 30,000 cases of rape were registered in 2017 alone.
- Assuming no dramatic improvement, when will the more than 90 statistically and tragically likely to be raped today see justice?
Utilisation of funds:
- They say prevention is better than cure, but it is not the case if we look at the fund utilisation.
- Over the last five years, utilisation of fund released by the Ministry of Home Affairs for the Nirbhaya fund projects is dismal.
- Overall it is 9 per cent and in the case of Maharashtra, it is 0 per cent.
- Similarly, funds released by the Ministry of Women and Child Development have been used to the extent of 20 per cent and in Madhya Pradesh, it is 0 per cent.
- Widening the definition and making punishment more stringent is not the answer.
- Procedural changes are required.
- Infrastructure for the courts must be paid attention to on an urgent basis.
- Problems of the vacancies of the judges must be addressed.
- What is essential is a study of the requirements of each court before any realistic solution is proffered.
While this task will require an enormous effort, it needs to be carried out as a mission mode project in public interest, otherwise, we will continue to witness the sufferings of women followed by the examples of instant injustice.