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Association of Retired Senior IPS Officers (ARSIPSO)

This is with reference to my letter No. ARSIPSO/GS-BSD-4/2023 dated. 10/08/2023 on the 4th B.S. Das Memorial Lecture, which had to be rescheduled for unavoidable reasons.

The 4th B.S.Das Memorial Lecture to be delivered by Shri Anil Kumar Sinha, IAS (Retd.), on the subject Disaster Management: Creating Safer Communities, has now been rescheduled for October 14, 2023 as per the following:

Conference Room No. 2, India International Centre, Max Mueller Marg, New Delhi, October 14, 2023 (Saturday)

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Judicial Reforms - S.M. Cairae I.P.S. (Retd.)

  1. Our law is a big hindrance to the smooth and tension-free running of the civil life in India. It is so complicated and by almost daily interpretations by various higher courts, it is becoming more and more complicated. It is now reduced to an exercise for the intellectuals and by the intellectuals, with little to do with the common man, on whom it is supposed to be applicable. On the other hand everyone is supposed to know it. Ignorance of law cannot be given as an acceptable defence by anyone. Need of the hour is to shorten and simplify the law, making it more rigid, difficult to change and comprehensible to a layman. This is very much possible. But it will take away the sheen of the legal profession.

  2. Otherwise the entire punitive law (major and minor Acts) could be summarized in a dozen sections. First section to deal with all definitions. Thereafter, each section to mention crimes or faults punishable with fine, one months imprisonment, six months imprisonment, one years, three years, five years, ten years, 20 years imprisonment, respectively. Thereafter, one section for crimes punishable with life imprisonment and lastly for the death penalty. There should be no discretion with the judge in prescribing punishment once someone is held guilty of an offence. All punishments should be laid down as specific and definite, with no scope for discretion. Eleventh section could deal with the procedure for investigation/enquiry and situations when bail could be granted. Right from High Courts to the Munsif courts, all should be Trial courts. In the good old days the King used to decide the tricky and heinous cases himself. So, there should be no problem if the higher judiciary takes up the trial work and tries heinous and tricky cases. There is no necessity for frequent interpretations of the laws and procedures. If at all any interpretation is required then the matter should be referred to the Legislature, or Parliament, which had passed that law. It is ridiculous that the Parliament/Legislature passes a law and so many courts start interpreting them as per their perception. There should be only one appeal in all cases which should lie in the next superior court. Procedure of appeal and writs, and the General Exceptions/ Attempt should be mentioned in the twelfth section. Supreme Court should hear the appeals of High Courts, and should solely deal with writs. Various loopholes like SLP/Revision/Stay of proceedings, etc., provided to delay trials/investigations should be done away with. And so should be the fate of unconstitutional practices like the PIL, etc. It should not be necessary for anyone to be represented by a lawyer in any court. This will reduce litigation drastically and will result in quicker and fairer justice.

  3. It may not be out of context to mention here that when the British descended on our country, the Penal Law consisted of hardly 10-12 major offences (Refer Crime and Police in India by Dr. Anand Swarup Gupta, I.P.). The brilliant drafters of the Penal Code sub-divided these offences to carve out 511 sections out of them, only to complicate the simple law. It may also be mentioned here that Criminal Law was considered very prompt, till the unfortunate introduction of the revised Cr.P.C. in 1973. It literally derailed the judicial system. In Sessions cases, everyone right from the Police, Prosecutors, Courts were very much conscious of the sanctity attached to such trials. The summons for Session cases used to be dealt with by the Crime Section (Crime Reader) of S.P. One Police Officer used to be detailed for carrying the witnesses to the Prosecutor, who would take pains to refresh the memory of the witness and prepare him for answering the likely questions of cross examination.

  4. Now, all this has become history. The Prosecutors are independent. The Session trials which used to be concluded in a week or ten days now run at leisure for months together. In the name of granting independence to Prosecutors from the Police, they are nobodys baby today. While the criminal has a lawyer to plead on his behalf, the investigator can look at no one to be looking after his interests in the Court. The Prosecutor is independent of him. In the name of safeguarding the interests of the presumed innocent law breaker, he can file any number of SLPs/Criminal Revisions, etc., and the trial can be allowed to be prolonged for decades, not bothering about the perils faced by the witnesses and investigators. Still there is any number of incidents of miscarriage of justice. On 5.11.2011 the Times of India (Delhi edition) carried the news on its front page that an unscrupulous influential man in Mainpuri, U.P., was instrumental in usurping their property, and getting three persons of a family convicted for 14 years for the murder of a co-villager, who after 10 years returned from Himachal Pradesh, last year. It took 11 months to order their release even after knowing about their wrong conviction. This is the gift of Cr.P.C. of 1973.

  5. The convict can go in for appeal without waiting for anybody, but the Prosecution cannot file an appeal before clearance from the Law Secretary. In criminal cases even the aggrieved complainant, or any primary witness, cannot file an appeal in a higher Court. No wonder, the best efforts by the Police to control crime fail because of a very poor conviction rate. The Courts, the Prosecutors and the Police function today as if they are nationals of different countries, not knowing each others language; and the brunt has to be borne by the law-abiding common man. Courts have no responsibility towards control of crime in society. It is left to the lot of the policeman to do so, without even the help of a lawyer for him in the Court. Civil Law which was required to be activated to reduce the burden on Criminal Law was left languishing as before, and instead, the Criminal Law was also further crippled, to make it closer to the Civil Law, by the amended Cr.P.C. of 1973. No wonder the society has risen to safeguard itself in more than one way. Naxalism is one of them, the gift of lawlessness in deep interiors. Bank loot, dacoities and rise in riots/murders/goondaism in townships is another way. They are products of this disappointment in the society from the non-functional law. Requirement of the day is to make law functional, and to treat Prosecution and Defence at par. No tilt is required either for or against any one of them. If law becomes functional, the maladies ailing the society, like Naxalism, goondaism, etc., will all vanish in due course of time.

The author is the former Director General of Police, Jharkhand (E-mail smc456@gmail.com ). For more such articles of topical nature, please visit our website www.arsipso.com

The views and facts stated above are entirely the responsibility of the author and do not reflect the views of this Association in any manner.
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