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Essence: As per the authors, problems of the Indian criminal justice system are ingrained in not only the constitutive fabric of institutions, but also in the psyche of their functionaries. First, there is the problem of pendency of cases with over 4.4 crore cases pending in the courts. Second, justice mechanisms are inaccessible to marginalised classes of citizens due to focus on institution building rather than on capacity building. Third, there is the problem of abuse of power by the police.
Fourth, goal of our criminal justice system to achieve 100% crime prevention is not achievable as empirical evidence has shown that higher punishment has little impact on lowering crime rates. Fifth, non-custodial measures of punishment of offenders are yet to be implemented which is leading to overcrowding of prisons. Sixth, there is a shortage of reliable data collection, maintenance and analysis mechanisms as the National Crime Records Bureau’s methodologies are criticised on multiple grounds.
According to the authors experience, these problems will not go away with time and efforts. Thus, reforms in criminal laws and criminal justice would face difficulties in implementation. Accepting these problems before introducing the reforms will help in bringing the right set of reforms. For example, if we accept that pending cases cannot be disposed off, we will rein in our tendency to over-criminalise conduct.
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