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What do you understand about the criminal justice system?

What do you understand about the criminal justice system?

How does sociology explain the deviant behavior of individuals in society?

The criminal justice system is the set of laws and principles which are applied to convicted ones on their transgressions. It is one of the most important ingredients of any society in the world. It describes the offenses, punishments, procedures, and ways to punish those who violate the laws of society.

The criminal justice system in a country comprises the legislature, the enforcement agencies, the courts, and correctional services. Its basic objective is to provide protection to the life and property of citizens and to ensure order in society. It has three main phases; investigation by police, trial by Courts, and execution by jail authorities. It stands upon three pillars: investigation, prosecution, and trial.

The criminal justice system has many aims and objectives. It mainly aims at enforcing the criminal law, protecting the public by preventing and deterring crime, advising people how to avoid victimization, and, finally, an efficient and fair application of the law, ensuring the proper treatment of suspects, defendants, and those in custody. Above all, the prime objective of the criminal justice system is to ensure that the innocent are acquitted and that the guilty are punished; respecting the basic theme of criminal jurisprudence that no offense should go unpunished and no innocent should go to jail. We may safely say that the three main components of the criminal justice system are police, prosecution, and courts.

PILLARS

The entire criminal justice system in Pakistan is aimed at the judicial dispensation of criminal justice. It stands on three pillars:

The investigation, prosecution, and trial.

Only by the appropriate and balanced working of these pillars and within the respective domain can the effective and smooth functioning of the system be possible.

ADVERSARIAL SYSTEM

The Courts in Pakistan work under. Under this system, the job of the Courts is only to decide whether the person accused of an offense is guilty or not. For instance, if a Court comes to conclude that a certain offense has been committed but the accused alleged of having committed so, does not prove to be the offender beyond a reasonable doubt, it is not for the Court to find the real culprit. The duty shall lie on the police or the complainant as the case may be.

In adversarial proceedings, the parties play a dominant role. The onus of preparations of the proceedings is on the parties, and, the judge plays a passive role and functions like an umpire. As stated above, there are three main components of the criminal justice system are;

  1. Police
  2. Prosecution
  3. Courts
  4. Police

In this system, the investigation is undertaken by the police. It is believed that the police have a tendency to become psychologically committed to bringing home the guilt of their chosen suspect. In Lal Khan Versus SHO, Police Station Kotwali, Jhang, Lahore High Court stated the job of investigation is to

– spot inspection,
– ascertain facts and circumstances touching the offense under investigation,
– collect evidence and

Prosecution

The prosecution is the agency that plays an intermediary role between the judiciary and the police. It is they who take the police”s case forward to the courts.

As interpreted by courts, the job of prosecution is to:

– thoroughly scrutinize challans in connection with the arrest of the offenders,
– present the prosecution case in the Court,
– contest the claims of defense and ensure the observance of the provisions of law,
– guide the Investigation Officer to remove lacunas left, if any, during an investigation.2

Court

The criminal court is the core of the criminal justice system. It preserves the “due process of law” throughout the arrest-to-release procedures in criminal justice. The job of the Court is to:

– initiate proceedings after a charge have been drawn up,
– give full information to the accused as to the offense he is charged with,
– convict the accused if his guilt is proven and acquit him if any reasonable doubt is created.

The legal basis of the criminal justice system of Pakistan includes the Criminal Procedure Act of 1898 and Pakistan Penal Code 1860 (PPC) which lay out the foundations, procedures, and functions of all components of the system starting from reporting of the case to police, its trial by courts, appeals, and correction at jails.

The CrPC is the procedural law providing the mechanism to be followed in every investigation, inquiry, and trial for every offense under the PPC or other substantive criminal law. It is divided into three stages: investigation, inquiry, and trial.

The investigation includes

All the proceedings under the Code for the collection of evidence by a police officer or by any person (other than a Magistrate), who is authorized by a Magistrate in this behalf.4
Inquiry

Consists of satisfaction of the facts a Magistrate either on receiving a police report or upon a complaint by any other person.5
Trial

Refers to a judicial proceeding that ends in conviction or acquittal.

There are many cardinal principles of the administration of criminal justice that have been laid down by the higher courts through their judgments pronounced from time to time for the guidance of the subordinate courts. A few of them are given below:

  1. The prosecution has to succeed on its own merits. It has to prove the case against the accused beyond a reasonable doubt if any dent is created by the defense, it is to be resolved in favor of the accused.
  2. It is a cardinal rule of criminal law that an accused is presumed to be innocent until the prosecution proves its case against him beyond the shadow of reasonable doubt. If the prosecution fails in its duty, which never shifts to the defense, the accused is entitled to benefit of the doubt.
  3. Accused has no vested right to be tried by a particular Court. If the bare reading of allegations leveled against him, prima facie make out a case to be tried by a Special Court to which it is sought to be transferred, then no exception can be taken to it. Any other interpretation would lead to an anomalous situation and would result in parallel proceedings.
  4. While deciding a criminal matter it is the quality and not quantity of the evidence which matters.
  5. Each criminal case would stand on its own footing. Facts and circumstances in one case could not be quite similar or on all fours towards the other.

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