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Criminal law reforms

Topics Covered: Separation of powers between various organs dispute redressal mechanisms and institutions.

Criminal law reforms

A group of retired judges, former bureaucrats and others have written to the newly constituted Committee for Reforms in Criminal Laws, questioning the lack of diversity in the committee and asking for more transparency in its functioning.


This committee was first announced by home minister Amit Shah in parliament in December 2019.

  • The panel would look into required amendments to the Indian Penal Code and Code of Criminal Procedure to deal with the issue of mob lynching.

The Committee was constituted through a Ministry of Home Affairs notification on May 4, 2020. The chairperson is Ranbir Singh (vice-chancellor, National Law University Delhi).

What’s the issue?

The line-up of Committee’s members “lacks diversity, both in terms of the social identity of the members, as well as their professional background and experience.”

Unlike previous committees that had been assigned reforms of such magnitude, this one did not even have full-time members.

What needs to be done?

Include more expertise and diversity. Create sub-committees with outside experts and other consultants with established track records in the field of criminal justice who can redress the lack of diversity and experience in the Committee’s current composition.

  • The committee should include “eminent women, Dalit, Adivasi and various religious minorities, LGBT, differently-abled criminal law practitioners and grassroots workers from different parts of India”.

The committee should make public the MHA notification constituting it. It should also upload on its website the terms of reference. The committee should clarify whether or not it is working independently of the MHA.

The committee should engage with a wide range of stakeholders in the criminal justice system in a meaningful, substantive, and transparent manner.


The Criminal law in India is contained in a number of sources – The Indian Penal Code of 1860, the Protection of Civil Rights Act, 1955, Dowry Prohibition Act, 1961 and the Scheduled Castes and Scheduled Tribes (Prevention of Atrocities) Act, 1989.

Criminal Justice System can impose penalties on those who violate the established laws.

  • The criminal law and criminal procedure are in the concurrent list of the seventh schedule of the constitution.

Lord Thomas Babington Macaulay is said to be the chief architect of codifications of criminal laws in India.

Need for reforms:

  • Colonial era laws.
  • ineffectiveness.
  • Pendency of cases.
  • Huge undertrials.

Previous committees:

Madhav Menon Committee: It submitted its report in 2007, suggesting various recommendations on reforms in the Criminal Justice System of India (CJSI).

Malimath Committee Report: It submitted its report in 2003 on the Criminal Justice System of India (CJSI).



Prelims Link:

  1. Malimath Committee is associated with?
  2. Criminal law under 7th schedule of the constitution.
  3. Who codified criminal laws in India?
  4. Controversial IPC laws.
  5. Ranbir Singh Committee was recently constituted for?

Mains Link:

Write a note on criminal justice reforms in India.

Sources: the Hindu.