Committee on Reforms of Criminal Justice System Government of India, Ministry of Home Affairs (Justice Malimath Committee)
Committee and its work
- The Committee on Reforms of the Criminal Justice System, or the Justice Malimath Committee, was constituted by the Home Ministry in 2000 by then Deputy Prime Minister L.K. Advani, who also held the Home portfolio for revamping the Criminal Justice System.
- The Committee was constituted under the Chairmanship of Justice V.S.Malimath, former Chief Justice of Karnataka and Kerala High Courts, Chairman, Central Administrative Tribunal and Member of the Human Rights Commission.
- The terms of reference for the Committee are:
- To examine the fundamental principles of criminal jurisprudence, including the constitutional provisions relating to criminal jurisprudence and see if any modifications or amendments are required thereto;
- To examine in the light of findings on fundamental principles and aspects of criminal jurisprudence as to whether there is a need to re-write the Code of Criminal Procedure, the Indian Penal Code and the Indian Evidence Act to bring them in tune with the demand of the times and in harmony with the aspirations of the people of India;
- To make specific recommendations on simplifying judicial procedures and practices and making the delivery of justice to the common man closer, faster, uncomplicated and inexpensive;
- To suggest ways and means of developing such synergy among the judiciary, the Prosecution and the Police as restores the confidence of the common man in the Criminal Justice System by protecting the innocent and the victim and by punishing unsparingly the guilty and the criminal;
- To suggest sound system of managing, on professional lines, the pendency of cases at investigation and trial stages and making the Police, the Prosecution and the Judiciary accountable for delays in their respective domains;
- To examine the feasibility of introducing the concept of “Federal Crime” which can be put on List I in the Seventh Schedule to the Constitution.
- The terms of reference are very wide and comprehensive. They require the Committee to examine the fundamental principles of criminal jurisprudence and relevant constitutional provisions and to suggest if any modifications or amendments are needed.
- If, on such review the Committee finds that any amendments to the Code of Criminal Procedure, the Indian Penal Code or the Indian Evidence Act are necessary to bring them in tune with the demands of time and the aspirations of the people, it can make necessary recommendations.
- The Committee is not called upon to take up a general review of all these three statutes. The mandate of the Committee is limited to recommending only such amendments to these statutes as may be necessary in the light of its findings on review of the fundamental principles of criminal jurisprudence. Therefore, the Committee has not undertaken any general review of these Statutes.
- The well recognised fundamental principles of criminal jurisprudence are ‘presumption of innocence and right to silence of the accused’, ‘burden of proof on the Prosecution’ and the ‘right to fair trial’. Examination of ‘Adversarial System’ followed in India being an aspect of the concept of ‘fair trial’ falls within the purview of the Committee.
- Simplifying judicial procedures and practices, bringing about synergy among the judiciary, the Prosecution and Police, making the system simpler, faster, cheaper and people-friendly, and restoring the confidence of the common man are the other responsibilities of the Committee.
- This includes improving the investigation and trial procedures on professional lines for expeditious dispensation of justice and making the functionaries accountable. The Committee is also required to examine if the concept of ‘Federal Crimes’, can be put in List 1 of the Seventh Schedule of the Constitution so that it becomes the exclusive responsibility of the Central Government.