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descriptive Question-Answer 5

Reforming Criminal Judicial System

Suggest three effective measures to reform criminal judicial system in India. Based on experience, knowledge and ground realities, state how the steps suggested by you would prove effective indeed.

In India ‘justice delayed is justice denied’ does not provoke as much rage and outrage among people as does the acquittal of those in high-profile criminal cases. In recent years, the high and influential accused have so managed and manipulated to get themselves acquitted that the people at large have begun to lose faith in the entire criminal judicial system. The words of warning from various quarters that the judicial system in India is almost on the verge of collapse, should send the right message to the powers-that-be to take immediate and corrective steps to stem the rot that has set in the system, before it is too late to mend the matters.

Rightly, the letter and spirit of the entire legal system stresses on the fact that no innocent person should be punished for the crime that he or she has not committed. It is equally imperative that no accused or criminal should go scot-free simply on the technical ground of ‘benefit of doubt’. Since the Indian judicial system, especially the criminal system, has come under a cloud, both for delay and denial of justice to the victim/aggrieved, it is the crying need of the hour to reform the system without delay and dithering. The following measures, if adopted with due deliberations and discussion, would go a long way in strengthening people’s faith in the system and also help delivering justice that people expect from the courts.

The impression that crime has become a low-risk, high-profit business these days can be effectively countered if the trial courts start looking into the loads of circumstantial evidence, rather than entirely depending on witnesses who tend to turn hostile and buckle under the weight/threat of money and muscle power. Recommendations of Justice Malimath Committee that dealt with the problem of hostile witnesses should be incorporated in the Evidence Act and Section 164 of Criminal Procedure Code.

Another measure that can help set the distortions right is the separation of investigation agency from the law and order wing of the police. Since both need proper training in the modern techniques of crime detection and control, investigation and prosecution should be handled separately and the principle of accountability strictly followed.

The Evidence Act needs to be amended in such a way that the onus of proving not guilty is shifted on the accused. It has been seen that wherever the onus of proof has been shifted on the accused, the results have been quite different. Separation of civil and criminal wings would not only cut delays in delivery of justice, but would also lead to greater specialisation and faster disposal.

Conserving Water

Water is the elixir of life. With sources of water drying and depleting every passing day, it is time that we in India devised and developed some ways to conserve water, both for the present and future generations. You are invited to suggest some steps that can help save and conserve water.

Nothing could be more true and telling than the fact that water is the elixir of life. Conservation of water is as much essential as preserving our flora and fauna and also protecting our heritage. With the highly disturbing reports of our water sources drying up or depleting in nature and nuance, it is time that we sat up and gave a serious thought and consideration to measures that could help save water and conserve it for use, both for the present and future generations. There is no denying that with the fast changing patterns of life, the demand for water is going to increase, both for domestic and non-domestic purposes. Unless some prompt and purposeful measures are taken to save and conserve water, the day would not be far away when we might be asked to face the music for want of adequate and regular supply of water, for domestic, agricultural, industrial and many other usages.

The problem of depleting water sources is real and therefore the measures to meet the challenge should be equally robust and realistic. Knowledgeable people visualise the solution in traditional wisdom and modern technology. Just as the subject of environmental studies is being taught at different levels of school and college education, similarly the subject of water (how to avoid its wastage and conserve it) should be included in school curriculum. If students, in particular, and the public, in general, are made aware how to use water prudently and conserve every drop, we can face the dilemma of scarce water resources and increasing demand for this precious liquid.

With modern technology at our disposal, waste-water from cities and industry should be recycled. A comprehensive water policy that addresses the issues related to water resources, water-table going down in certain States, crop pattern or diversification ensuring linkages with sectors like energy, forestry and agriculture, should be drawn up. Last but not least is the crying need to work in harmony with nature and give back what we take. After all the havoc that we have done to nature, the latter is still benign and bountiful. To make the best use of nature’s benevolence, all users of water in India are required to know that discretion is the better part of valour and prudence is the panacea for many a man-made mess. 

Sharing Knowledge Globally

In the highly compact and complex world of today, sharing knowledge globally is the urgent need of the hour. Comment.

With the most sophisticated means of communication and connectivity at our beck and call, it is but natural that today’s world has become a global village. With opportunities aplenty in the fields of travel and trade, commerce and industry, science and technology it is in the fitness of things that knowledge gained through legal and transparent channels is shared globally. Barring a few areas of national security and the matters related to national pride/prejudice, the sharing of knowledge to fight the scourges of terrorism, fundamentalism, natural calamities and diseases should become the telling tone and temper of our times.

Ours is an age of convergence of ideas and information and if the contours and contents of cooperation and coordination keep on expanding to the advantage of one and all under the sun, the dream of having a world knowledge platform would become a ringing reality. The evolution of world knowledge platform would surely be a meeting place for science, technology, industry, management and marketing that, in turn, would enable joint design, development, cost effective production and ultimately marketing of knowledge in various domains. Such a scenario in future would not only accelerate and accentuate growth but also improve the human lot.

In the years to come, the exploration of space can act as a motivator for natural collaboration between nations. The thrust into space will benefit the world’s next industrial revolution that will be triggered by missions of exploration of minerals as energy sources from planets and asteroids. All this and much more can be visualised and achieved, once the nations of the world voluntarily come on the world knowledge platform.

Preventing Custodial Torture

Suggest three effective measures to prevent custodial deaths in India. State
how the steps suggested by you would bring about a qualitative change in the situation.

The frequent occurrence-cum-reporting of custodial deaths and fake encounters is not only the negation of ‘rule of law’ but also a gross violation of human rights. In a democratic set-up like ours, it is a matter of shame and shock that law enforcers tend to become law-breakers and yet manage to go scot free. Having lived with this pernicious phenomenon for quite long, it is time that public conscience is stirred and law-makers rise to the occasion and think of some concrete and cogent measures to prevent such aberrations as cast a slur on the working of our law-enforcing agencies. If the powers-that-be mean business in this regard, there is no reason why the following steps should not bring about a qualitative change in the prevailing situation.

It is imperative that investigating work be separated from policing, thus restoring the confidence of people in police force and its working. Things have gone wrong chiefly due to the combining  of investigation with policing and giving a free hand to the police to extract confessional statements from the accused.

The law governing the entire hierarchy of law-enforcing agencies needs to be changed because anything allowed to remain static for long loses its relevance and propriety. Instead of using force/torture to extract information (right or wrong) the police should adopt scientific methods. crimes are committed in all societies—both developed as well as developing. Whereas the most advanced countries resort to scientific methodology to gather information from the accused
and his accomplices, here in India we are still using age-old and time-barred tricks and tactics.
Custodial torture should be treated as a heinous crime and transparency should be brought into the working of police across the board. Law-enforcing agencies should ensure that all guidelines issued from time to time are adhered to while arresting and detaining an accused. The UN Convention against torture and other cruel, inhuman and degrading treatment or punishment should be given a serious thought by the powers-that-be.


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