Menon Committee on Criminal Justice Reform

The Madhava Menon Committee Report has been submitted, although I have not been able to lay hands on the full text. It recommends far-reaching changes. Media reports suggest it seeks to liberalize and rationalise the criminal justice system, and sounds much better than the Malimath Committee report which called for a more powerful rather than a limited state. But one has to wait for the fine print. Anyway, here is a summary:

“The Madhava Menon committee on the draft national policy on criminal justice, in its report submitted to the home ministry today, has suggested that crimes be classified into four codes based on the gravity of the injury.The four-fold scheme would include a social welfare offences code (SWOC) for civil crimes, correctional offences code (COC) for crimes punishable with up to three years in jail or a fine, penal code (PC) for graver offences punishable with imprisonment beyond three years and economic offences code (EOC) for select cases that fall under the Indian Penal Code and relevant economic laws. Small marriage offences, prohibition offences, vagrancy and minor indiscipline on campuses and workplaces, for instance, can be brought under the SWOC, the committee feels.Therefore, these cases were felt fit to be entrusted to local bodies. Under the COC, arrest and detention may be allowed, but all the cases could be open to settlement through lok adalats, plea bargaining and other alternative means, thus avoiding prolonged trials. Grave offences punishable with death fall under the penal code and deserve careful and quick processing under expert supervision with human rights protection guaranteed as in the Constitution, the report has said. “There has to be greater accountability from enforcement agencies in these cases as they create public alarm and insecurity.”If anyone has access to the full report, I would very much like to see it.

Written by
Tarunabh Khaitan
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