Police Reforms: Criminal Justice System in India

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Police Reforms: Criminal Justice System in India

Written by: Ms Shalini Gupta


The Union of India is a Federal Polity consisting of different states.[1] The states have their own powers and functions under the constitution of India. India follows the adversarial system of the criminal justice system which had been taken from the British Colonial rules. Our Constitution of India sets certain ideals in securing justice for the people and maintaining the unity and integrity of the nation. The criminal justice administration helps to achieve its goals.

The criminal justice system is the institution established by the Government to control the crimes in India. The Criminal Procedure Code (CRPC) is a procedural law that lays down the process for the administration of criminal justice. It creates the institution and the process by which criminal justice would be administered.

CRPC, 1973 came into force on April 1, 1974. Prior to this, the criminal procedure was contained in CRPC. 1898. After the recommendation of the Law Commission of India in its 41st report of 1969, the old CRPC was substituted with the CRPC, 1973.

The recommendation of the Law Commission of India was with respect to the following perspectives:

  1. Separation of judiciary from the executive.
  2. Every effort should be made to avoid delay in the investigation and trial and the accused must be given a fair trial.
  3. The procedure should not be complicated and to the utmost extent ensure fair deal to the poorer section of the society.[2]

The aims of the criminal justice system are:

  1. To protect the rights and personal liberty of the individuals as well as the society against its invasion by others.[3]
  2. To punish the culprits.
  3. To prevent the crime.
  4. To compensate the victims.
  5. To maintain law and order in the society.


the criminal justice system is a very old system in India. In early society, the victim himself punish the offender through retaliatory and revengeful methods as there was no authority to do the same.[4] It was said that the punishment should be rested with the very person wronged.

During ancient times, the rule of King and establishment of authority over the society instituted in India where King makes laws and the society has to follow it strictly. If any person does not follow the rules or violates the rules of the king then he was punished by the King. The rule of the King was there in the State in the Vedic period. Each state was divided into provinces and the provinces into divisions and districts. For each province, governors were appointed.

According to Smritis, the administration of justice was one of the most important functions of the King. The King’s Court was the highest court of appeal. The Chief Justice and other judges, Ministers and elders, were there to regularly advise the King in the matters of giving justice to the victim. Ashoka entrusted Mahamatras with the task of invigilation of the town judiciary by means of periodical tours.[5]


The first institution of the state police can be traced to the pre-Mauryan period. The duty of the police is to investigate the crime to find out the accused. During the ancient period, there were two types of police i.e. regular police and secret police. Various committees have been instituted to establish police reforms in India. They are the National Police Commission (1978-82), Ribero committee, the Padmanabhaiah Committee on the restructuring of Police (2000) and the Malimath Committee on reforms in the Criminal Justice System (2002-03).

The National Police Commission studied the problems of police and dealt with a wide range of aspects of police functioning. 240 recommendations were made by the Padmanabhaiah Committee. Malimath Committee recommended for the strengthening of training infrastructure, forensic science laboratory and Finger Print Bureau, enactment of new Police Act, setting up of Central Law Enforcement agency to take care of federal crimes, separation of investigation wing from the law and order wing in the police stations, improvement in an investigation by creating more posts, the establishment of the State Security Commission, etc.[6]

The functioning of police is dealt with by the Police Act, 1861; criminal procedure Code, 1973 and Civil Procedure Code. The main functions of the police are to file an FIR, investigate the crime and to collect the evidence. The investigation is defined under section 2(h) of the criminal procedure code which consists of proceeding to the spot, ascertaining facts and circumstances, discovery and arrest of suspected offenders. The Court will not interfere with the investigation during the course of an investigation.[7] This would only apply when a proper investigation has been done.


Firstly, an FIR is being filed by the police under section 154 of the criminal procedure code. Section 154 CRPC is obligatory in nature and creates a duty on the police officer to register an FIR. The object of FIR is to set the criminal justice system in motion. The power of investigation of cognizable offences is dealt with by section 156 CRPC. The investigation of a non-cognizable offence can only be initiated after obtaining permission from the Magistrate under section 155(2) of CRPC.

Section 173(2) of CRPC provides that once the investigation is complete, it is the duty of the investigating officer to file the final investigation report under section 170 of CRPC. Then the Magistrate takes cognisance under section 190(1)(b) of CRPC.

During the trial, the accused was given so many chances to speak for himself. There would be a fair trial for every accused.

The CRPC, 1973 was considered to be accused of centric as there was no adequate provision for payment of compensation to the victims of crime. In 2009, the CRPC was amended and provisions were inserted for a scheme for payment of compensation to victims. Section 2(wa) was inserted which defined the term ‘victim’ as a person who has suffered any loss or injury and includes heirs and legal representatives.  Before 2009, the compensation to victims was payable under section 357 of CRPC but there were many shortcomings in this section. Therefore, the 2009 criminal amendment Act inserted section 357A which provides for a victim compensation scheme for payment of compensation to the victims.


[1] R. Thilagaraj, Criminal Justice System in India, SPRINGER (Nov 2, 2012), https://link.springer.com/chapter/10.1007/978-1-4614-5218-8_13.

[2] Amar Nath And Others vs State Of Haryana & Others 1977 AIR 2185, 1978 SCR (1) 222.

[3] Alok Kumar, Criminal Justice System of India-Is it time to implement Malimath Committee report, CLEARIAS (Oct, 12, 2018), https://www.clearias.com/criminal-justice-system-india/.

[4] Choudhuru, Dr. Mrinmaya, Languishing for justice, p 4.

[5] Dalbir Bharti, The Constitution and criminal justice administration, https://books.google.co.in/books?hl=en&lr=&id=P8K97x70pxoC&oi=fnd&pg=PR7&dq=criminal+justice+system+in+India&ots=MqhX90Kk70&sig=UNmcKYK5YMGtTshTqti0QI7SBE0&redir_esc=y#v=onepage&q=criminal%20justice%20system%20in%20India&f=false.

[6] Status note on police reforms in India, http://dfs.nic.in/pdfs/PoliceReforms(E)181013.pdf.

[7] Rishbud vs the State of Delhi, 1955 SC.

Keywords: Police Reforms, Police Reforms in India, Police Reforms and Criminal Justice System in India

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