Criminal Victimization & Justice Administration in India by Sharmistha Dutta

Bhanwari Devi was gangraped in 1992 by a group of upper-caste men  angered by her efforts to prevent a child marriage in their family. The gang rape attracted widespread national and international media attention, and became a landmark episode in India’s women’s rights movement.  The Supreme Court for the first time defined sexual harassment at the workplace, in a landmark judgment popularly known as the ‘Vishaka Judgment[1]’.

And yet twenty four years on, Bhanwari still awaits justice. The rapists were let off by a lower court in 1995. The state government appeal against the acquittal in the high court in 1996 still drags on. Through this single case the picture of crime victimization and justice administration in India can be brought before us.

Crime Victimization is the result of deliberate action taken by an institution or person to exploit, oppress, or harm another. The question arises how victimization is linked to justice administration. Or rather does justice administration affects the rate of number of victimization in a country. Delayed justice is the sole reason why victimization is increasing profusely. The lag caused by the judicial system to take up cases has given enormous courage to criminal and they, shedding all their fear commit such heinous crimes. Thus, a rigorous step towards improvement of justice administration of not only limiting the average crimes committed but also instill among such culprits a sense of intimidation.

The Malimath Committee[2] was formulated to review and revamp the abysmal state of the contemporary Criminal Justice System. Mammoth amounts of delays along with huge delays were smothering this judicial wing and poor rates of conviction in cases of serious criminal stature were hampering the very root of this system. Crime had found a new identity; it developed into various genres such as organized crime. Low conviction rates had inspired the wrongdoers and infused fear in the minds of the innocent. People lost their faith in the justice, which is foremost for any judicial structure.

Post our independence we got our constitution which accompanied with it advancements in every field. With independence came a new era, a new nation and expectations. And the judicial system was not aloof.

The crowd which ones had lost all hopes against the corrupt was expectant. The constitution came various laws to safeguard and protect a citizen. But apart from our Article 21 nothing has been able to fully fill its purpose. A sound and functional society is built on just a merely apt but a strong and efficient judicial system. But reports of the home ministry over the past few years have always said otherwise.

Justice not hampered only when an accused is exonerated or an innocent is wrongly sentenced, it is hampered every time justice is delayed. Evidences are played with witnesses are manipulated we all have grown up hearing about justice losing to delays. And is after all this getting justice really lives up to the status of a word as big as justice.

So what is the first thing that comes to our minds when thing of fast disposals. More courts an with it more judges. In a massive population like ours we have 12-13 judges per million against 107 of the united states, 51 of united kingdom, 75 of Canada and 41 of Australia 12 years ago. The Supreme Court has however now stepped in worth orders to increase this to 50 per million.

Police investigation or rather the investigating officers are of paramount importance to a judicial system with matters that are criminal in nature. But they are not really trusted in the present system. And then there are various forces which bind to work in a certain prescribed path. And against the modern free crime which is redefining itself regularly the system lacks to a great extend, it falls short against it. The investigation officers are not trained and aided with the technology to fight modern crime. Cyber crime is one of the leading offences that are ruling the world today. These cyber hackers act so smartly that most of the time they are even able to trick the lawyers in their trap. Hence, as long as lawyers don’t master themselves in this field none can expect justice and fair trial for the victims of such crime.

And then the case is presented in the court. The accused has the option to choose his representative (legal) .Guilty? Prove otherwise and the job is done. The prosecution bear the justice, it is its onus to prove justice, the prove the validity of the evidence. To co-ordinate and fulfill the lacks of the investigating officer. And after a full examination of competency one gets justice. The accused is a mere spectator and apart from being a witness is only a spectator of absolutely no help during a proceeding to lawyer.

Witnesses play a vital role in wining a case, in proper disposal of justice; late proceedings leave them exposed to threats and manipulations. We still don’t have don’t have proper laws to look are our witness. This is not the only proper as far as this aspect of witness is concerned. Sometimes witnesses give wrong accounts to tamper the proceedings which are to be dealt with as well.

India’s system of criminal justice is adversarial of common law taken from the British Colonial Rulers. The system works to establish the truth by legal and prudent pondering over the various versions of truth presented by the prosecution and the defense. The judges act as the neutral deciding organ. Their functioning should be of the efficient manner. The standing of the matter is decided and so are in autonomous selective manner the evidences are presented. The judges plays a passive role.

Now the system has various lacks and many have taken its advantage. It has been used to escape from the aftermath of an ill deed. People today don’t look at it with confidence when asked to choose as an option for the settlement of a dispute. So obviously the system has its lacks and we have seen a lot to know about the various shortcomings, to know about what need to be done to frame a Criminal judicial system that stand up and tall against all. Once, we achieve such a stage, victimization will be a faded term in India’s history.

[1] Vishaka and others V. State of Rajasthan and Others AIR 1997 SC 3011

[2]Committee on Reforms of  Criminal Justice System, Government of India, Ministry of Home Affairs , Vol I

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