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Published in the 1-15 Mar 2004 print edition of MG; send me the print edition

Criminal justice in India

Aligarh (23 Feb): Noted Jurist and Director, National Judicial Academy, Professor NR Madhava Menon said that criminal justice system in India has collapsed almost beyond repair.

Prof Menon was delivering the Second Professor Hafeezul Rehman Memorial Lecture on "Towards Human Rights friendly criminal justice: Policy choices and strategies" at Aligarh Muslim University. He said that training in Police is more oriented to muscle power than intellectual abilities and the training for prosecution and judiciary was almost non-existent till recent times.

Prof Menon said that there is evidence to show that corruption is rampant from top to bottom and has assumed a degree of legitimacy, which is frustrating to any reformer of the system. He said that corruption in the judicial process could be considered as a great threat to the human rights. He pointed out that the nexus between the corrupt elements in Police, politics, media, legal profession, civil services and the underworld is a dangerous mix for rule of law and human rights.

Prof Menon observed that there is evidence to show that the corruption network is attempting to capture political parties and processes. If and when that happens criminal justice itself will be in their hands to give them immunity and protection and nothing but a revolution could save the system from total collapse.

He said that it is the need of the hour and every right thinking person committed to rule of law and human rights has to organise, educate and agitate, till the state apparatus for criminal justice is cleaned of the scourge of corruption. In his presidential address the Vice-Chancellor of AMU Naseem Ahmad said that society has evolved methods and means to enforce a pattern of behaviour, which is considered just in the interest of good governance and administration of justice. 

Welcoming the guests, Prof M Ishaq Qureshi, said that the inherent defects in criminal justice system continue to operate against the weaker sections of society despite constitutional provisions guaranteeing equality before law and its equal protection to all. The criminal judicial system inherited from the British colonialism has failed to achieve the objective enshrined in the constitution. 

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