| India's Criminal Justice System on Life Support: K.T.S. Tulsi
India's Criminal Justice System is in ICU and until and unless drastic measures are taken for its revival, the adage Justice Delayed is Justice Denied would be proven true.' This was the view expressed by Rajya Sabha MP & Senior Advocate, Supreme Court K.T.S. Tulsi at a seminar on the Criminal Justice System in India organised by Ludhiana Management Association-LMA. Mr. Tulsi shared interesting data points to substantiate his views on the subject, while there was a plethora of laws, which are repeatedly amended, delivery of justice is pathetic, due to which conviction rates are vey low , thereby failing to serve as a deterrent on those committing crimes. He maintained that lack of accountability and cooperation between the Investigation and Prosecution wings of Criminal Justice Mechanism were creating situations where criminals go either scot free, or if they are charged, manage to wriggle out due to botchy investigation or lackadaisical prosecution.
Tulsi shared that at the current rate of settlement of cases, with its pendency status, it could take up to 300 years to clear the backlogs. To highlight the distressing state of affairs, he compared India's Conviction Rate of 21.2% for cognisable crimes, as compared to USA and Japan which had rates of more than 98 %. Tulsi also said that our procedural delays are resulting in a situation, wherein we have more than 60% of prisoners under trial , which by itself is a travesty of justice, as we are keeping accused under trial for very long periods, and many a times without sufficient evidence or prosecution.
Tulsi asserted that a paradigm shift is essential for delivery of justice and we need to change our mindset from that of enacting more laws, increasing the sentence, denying bail as deterrents to creating a more effective and professional investigation system, better management of court procedures, reduction of holidays, modernisation of police stations, discounting the sentences. He emphasised that Judiciary be made accountable for time based delivery of justice, and in case a case is not settled within a prescribed time period, it should lead to abatement. He also attributed the sad state of affairs, to our unwillingness and our inability to make the courts accountable for delays due to the imminent threat of being charged for Contempt of Court. Tulsi attributed the rising trend of Lynching's to the tacit support of politicians and indifference of those who are entrusted with the responsibility for maintaining law and order. He cautioned that if this remains unchecked it could lead to Vigilante Justice and high levels of insecurity amongst the citizens. The session was followed by a highly engaging question answer session with the members. President LMA Kamal Wadhera proposed a Vote of Thanks, with the hope that lawmakers , law enforcers and the judiciary would take the necessary measure for reforming the Criminal Justice System, leading to a society that is able to concentrate on growth and development. LMA Vice President S.S. Bhogal, Mr. D.R. Bhatti and Sr. Advocate J.S. Bindra felicitated Mr. K.T.S Tulsi.