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Understanding the Indian Criminal Justice System : a brief and its major components

Author: Pooja Dilip Pawar

Designation: Advocate

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IPS, R.K. Raghavan in his World Factbook Of Criminal Justice Systems says: “In sum, the criminal Justice System in India is a legacy of the British system.”


India is a democratic, secular and socialistic country. Secularism is the basic feature of the whole Indian Government. Indian constitution has led down principles for the state, and provided fundamental rights to its citizens. A fair trial is right guaranteed under article 21 of the Indian constitution.

Indian justice system is based on hierarchy. The Supreme court is the highest court of the country. All the other lower courts are subordinate to it. Legislature is the law-making body. Judiciary is to interpret the law and enforce the laws. The main object of the justice system is to render justice. Justice system has to follow the procedures. There are various components in between to reach the final goal i.e. justice.

In the criminal justice system, police, investigation, accused, victim, witnesses, evidence, without which justice cannot be achieved. Crime is considered as an offence against the state against the society and not against any individual in the eyes of law. State has to protect the rights of citizens. State has to punish wrong. State has to give protection to persons against violent and disorderly behaviour. Liberty cannot exist without protecting basic rights of citizens recognized by the constitution.

Components of criminal justice system

Police and Investigation : Police are the primary part of the justice system. From registration of FIR to making charge sheets they play an important role.

Judiciary : Judiciary has a very vital role in implementation of rule of law. The main duty of the court is to protect and enforce human rights and to provide relief to victims.

Prosecution : Prosecution is counsel appearing on behalf of the State in trial. Our justice system is based on an accusatorial method where the fundamental principle of the criminal justice system is, “an accused is presumed to be innocent until proven guilty”. To prove an accused is guilty the whole burden is on prosecution except in some cases.

Defence lawyers : Lawyers who defend the accused against the government's case. They are either hired by the accused or are assigned by the court if the accused can’t afford to hire one.

Evidence : Evidence is proof of facts stated by parties. Evidence is an essential part of proceedings. Evidence contains testimony of witnesses whether oral or written, exhibits, articles and objects etc.

Witness : Witness testimony is essential for court to decide the cases. Witness has direct connection with the facts of the case. Witness has to take an oath because the truthfulness of the witness’s testimony is important in delivering justice.

Prison: After conviction accused sent to jails or rehabilitation centres. There are kinds of prisons.

Critical analysis of Criminal Justice system

There is a need for reforms in the criminal justice system. The existing system includes various faults i.e. it is time consuming, accused oriented, lack of coordination in components of the criminal justice system etc.

  • Lack of Speedy Trial : Speedy justice is an integral part of the fundamental right to life and liberty enshrined in Art. 21 of the Indian Constitution.

The Supreme Court in A.R. Antulay v. R.S. Nayak held that, ‘Right to speedy trial is implicit in Art.21 of Constitution and this has constituted a Fundamental Right of every person accused of crime. For the purpose of speedy justice additional Judges and Courts are needed.
  • Lack of coordination : There is lack of understanding and coordination in components of criminal justice i.e. police, prosecutors, witnesses. This leads to delays in proceedings and disposal of cases. The Criminal Justice System forms a chain and each of the components plays its role effectively for the achievement of ultimate purpose i.e. justice. In case of Failure of any of them to discharge its function effectively the whole system suffers.

  • Delay in disposal of cases : Delay causes because of various factors. It includes initiation of proceedings, tampering of evidence, hostile witnesses, proper evidence, long arguments etc.

Conclusion : Indian Criminal justice system seems complicated and dependable. But without following proper procedures justice cannot be achieved. Although, the main aim of the Criminal Justice System (CJS) is to protect the rights and personal liberty of individuals and the society against its invasion by others.













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