Challenges and reforms of the Indian criminal justice system

Challenges and reforms of the Indian criminal justice system




The purpose of criminal justice administration is to preserve and defend the rule of law . Like social control of law, maintenance of order, speedy trial, penalization of offenders, rehabilitation of offenders through the judicial system, and solace to victims of crimes. However , the current criminal justice system has various faults and cons . the criminal justice system in India faces a number of challenges including a large backlog of pending cases, a slow and inefficient system, a lack of resources, inadequate infrastructure, and poor training of the personnel and so on.

Major challenges which the Indian criminal justice system faces-

1.Lack of transparency.

2.Pendency of cases.

3.Cumbersome procedures.

4.Lack of coordination and system approach.


6.Lack of awareness amongst individuals.

• One of the major challenges facing the Indian criminal justice system is a large backlog of pending cases, which can result in long delays in the delivery of justice. A common expression says that “equity deferred is denied equity” and according to a 2017 survey, there are currently, nearly 60,000 cases pending within the Supreme Court. Across separate jurisdictions, there are between 25 and 30 million cases.The Indian criminal justice system is also criticized for being slow, inefficient and corrupted. It suffers from  lack of resources, inadequate infrastructure and poor training of the personnel.

• Another major challenge is the treatment of marginalized communities,To enforce human rights and thus preserve and secure the civil rights of residents of the country, the criminal justice system, consisting of police, judicial, and correctional institutions has an important role to play.marginalized communities such as the poor and lower castes are often treated unfairly and disproportionately targeted by the criminal justice system. This can lead to a lack of trust in the system and a lack of access to justice for these communities.The various aspects of the criminal justice system, that is police, prosecutors, judiciary, and correctional agencies, are typically lacking in comprehension and teamwork.

Reforms of the Indian criminal justice system

Recently the Union Home Minister introduced three new Bills in the Lok Sabha that propose a complete overhaul of the country’s criminal justice system. The three Bills are:

1.The Bharatiya Nyay Sanhita Bill, 2023, which will replace the IPC, 1860

2.The Bhartiya Nagrik Suraksha Sanhita Bill, 2023, which will replace the CrPC, 1898

3.The Bharatiya Sakshya Bill, 2023, which will replace the Evidence Act, 1872.

Proposed Changes in the Bharatiya Nyay Sanhita Bill, 2023:

The bill defines terrorism and offenses such as separatism, armed rebellion against the government, challenging the sovereignty of the country, which were earlier mentioned under different provisions of law.

It repeals the offense of sedition, which was widely criticized as a colonial relic that curbed free speech and dissent.

It prescribes capital punishment as the maximum sentence for mob lynching, which has been a menace in recent years.

It proposes 10 years imprisonment for sexual intercourse with women on false promise of marriage, which is a common form of deception and exploitation.

The bill introduces community service as a form of punishment for specific crimes, which can help in reforming offenders and reducing overcrowding in prisons.

The bill fixes a maximum limit of 180 days to file a charge sheet, which can speed up the trial process and prevent indefinite delays.

Proposed Changes in the Bhartiya Nagrik Suraksha Sanhita Bill, 2023:

It promotes the use of technology for trials, appeals, and recording depositions, allowing video-conferencing for proceedings.

The bill makes video-recording of statement of survivors of sexual violence compulsory, which can help in preserving evidence and preventing coercion or manipulation.

The bill mandates that police must inform about the status of a complaint in 90 days, which can enhance accountability and transparency.

Section 41A of the CrPC will be renumbered as Section 35. This change includes an added safeguard, stipulating that no arrest can be made without prior approval from an officer at least at the rank of Deputy Superintendent of Police (DSP), especially for offenses punishable by less than 3 years or for individuals above 60 years.

The bill requires that police consult the victim before withdrawing a case punishable by seven years or more, which can ensure that justice is not compromised or denied.

It allows absconding criminals to be tried in-absentia by court and sentenced too, which can deter fugitives from escaping justice.

It empowers magistrates to take cognizance of offenses based on electronic records such as emails, SMSs, WhatsApp messages etc., which can facilitate evidence collection and verification.

Mercy petitions in death sentence cases to be filed within 30 days to the Governor and within 60 days to the President.

No appeal shall lie against the President’s decision in any court.

Proposed Changes in Bharatiya Sakshya Bill, 2023:

The bill defines electronic evidence as any information generated or transmitted by any device or system that is capable of being stored or retrieved by any means.

It lays down specific criteria for admissibility of electronic evidence such as authenticity, integrity, reliability etc., which can prevent misuse or tampering of digital data.

It provides for special provisions for admissibility of DNA evidence such as consent, chain of custody etc., which can enhance accuracy and reliability of biological evidence.

It recognises expert opinion as a form of evidence such as medical opinion, handwriting analysis etc., which can assist in establishing facts or circumstances relevant to a case.

It introduces the presumption of innocence as a fundamental principle of the criminal justice system, which means that every person accused of an offense is presumed to be innocent until proven guilty beyond reasonable doubt.

 There are also some ways to make the system effective and efficient. Such as-

Increase the number of judges:

India has shortage of judges, which contributes to the high rate of pendency in the courts. Increasing the number of judges would help to reduce this backlog and speed up the procedure.

Improve witness protection:

Many witnesses in criminal cases in India are intimidated or pressured into not giving evidence, which can slow down the trial process. Improving witness protection measures would help to ensure that witnesses feel safe to give evidence and that trials can proceed more quickly.

Improving technology:

Implementing technology in the criminal justice system can improve efficiency, and reduce errors and corruption. For example, using digital evidence management systems, and case tracking systems can help in the quicker disposal of cases.

Encourage Alternative Dispute Resolution (ADR):

Encourage the use of alternative dispute resolution mechanisms such as mediation, negotiation, and arbitration to resolve disputes outside of the traditional court system. This can help to reduce the backlog of cases in the courts and speed up the delivery of justice.

Improve police investigation:

Ensuring that investigations are conducted in a timely and thorough manner, with proper forensic evidence collection and analysis can also help to improve the effectiveness of the criminal justice system.

Restorative justice:

It is a new way of looking at criminal justice which focuses on healing the harm caused by crime, repairing relationships and restoring peace in the affected community. It can be an alternative to traditional punishment which can reduce the burden on the court system and improve the effectiveness of justice.


Providing offenders with education, job training, and other support services can help them to reintegrate into society and reduce recidivism. This can ultimately help to improve the effectiveness of the criminal justice system.


 India has been criticised because of its outdated criminal justice system. Corruption, harrasment behind the bars, abuse of power, slow delivery of justice and many more things are awfully damaging the system. However, there are also efforts to reform and improve the system, with a focus on ensuring that marginalized communities have access to justice, and the whole is working and performing it’s duty properly.

Author: Aritrika Das, a student at Snehangshu kanta Acharya Institute of law


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