Malimath Committee was headed by Justice V.S. Malimath, former Chief Justice of the Karnataka and Kerala High Courts. This Committee began its work in 2000 when it was constituted by the Home Ministry. The Report related to the criminal justice system in India was submitted to Deputy Prime Minister L.K. Advani, who was also in charge of the Home portfolio, in 2003. This article throws light on the objectives of the committee, the recommendation given by it, and the drawbacks.
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Malimath Committee – Objective
- The task of examining the fundamental principles of criminal law to restore confidence in the criminal justice system.
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- This involved reviewing the Code of Criminal Procedure (CrPC), 1973, the Indian Evidence Act, 1872, and the Indian Penal Code (IPC), 1860.
Malimath Committee – Recommendations
- The 158 recommendations of the committee, arrived at after examining several national systems of criminal law, especially the continental European systems, essentially propose a shift from an adversarial criminal justice system, where the respective versions of the facts are presented by the prosecution and the defence before a neutral judge, to an inquisitorial system, where the objective is the “quest for truth” and the judicial officer controls the investigation of offences.
- Its report has suggested the dilution of many of the pre-trial safeguards against violence in police custody that an accused has.
- For instance, it seeks to double the 90-day period available for filing a charge-sheet after which an accused can be released on bail.
- It also recommends that the permissible 15-day police remand of an accused be doubled for grave offences.
- Malimath Committee seems to have concentrated on the rights of the victim. It mentions the need to formulate a witness protection programme, reclassify offences, and involve the victim in all stages of the trial.
- On the question of making investigations more effective, it suggests the setting up of a State Security Commission, as recommended by the NPC, to insulate the police from political pressure.
- It has expanded the definition of rape to include all forms of forcible penetration, is eclipsed by the indifference to most of the concerns of the women’s movements. The committee does not favour the death penalty for rapists. The report states that wherever the death penalty is a possible punishment it should be replaced with life imprisonment without commutation or remission.
Learn Malimath Committee Recommendations in Point
Borrowing from the inquisitorial system
- Suggested borrowing features from the inquisitorial system of investigation practised in countries such as Germany and France.
- In this system, a judicial magistrate supervises the investigation.
Right to silence
- The panel recommended a modification to Article 20 (3) of the Constitution that protects the accused from being compelled to be a witness against himself/herself.
Rights of the accused
- Schedule to the Code should be brought out in all regional languages so that the accused becomes aware of his/her rights, how to enforce them, and the authority to approach in case of denial.
Presumption of innocence
- The courts follow “proof beyond reasonable doubt” as the basis to convict an accused in criminal cases.
- This, the committee felt, gives a “very unreasonable burden’” on the prosecution and hence suggested that a fact be considered as proven “if the court is convinced that it is true” after evaluating the matters before it.
Justice to victims of crime
- The victim should be allowed to participate in cases involving serious crimes and also be given adequate compensation.
- If the victim is dead, the legal representative shall have the right to implement himself or herself as a party, in case of serious offences.
- The State should provide an advocate of the victim’s choice to plead on his/her behalf, where the state bears the cost
- Victim compensation is a State obligation in all serious crimes.
- The Victim Compensation Fund can be created under the victim compensation law and the assets confiscated in organised crimes can be made part of the fund.
- The Committee suggested the separation of the investigation wing from Law and Order.
- Recommended setting up of a National Security Commission and State Security Commissions.
- Additional SP in each district to maintain crime data, organisation of specialised squads to deal with organised crime, and a team of officers to probe inter-State or transnational crimes,
- Setting up a Police Establishment Board to deal with posting, transfers, and so on.
- The Committee suggested police Custody be extended to 30 days and an additional time of 90 days be granted for the filing of charge sheets in case of serious crimes.
- Committee favoured dying declarations, confessions, and audio/video recorded statements of witnesses to be authorised by law.
- It suggested that a new post, Director of Prosecution, be created in every State to facilitate effective coordination between the investigating and prosecuting officers under the guidance of the Advocate General.
- The appointment of Assistant Public Prosecutors and Prosecutors made through competitive examination.
- Not to be posted in their home district and the places where they were already practising.
Courts and judges
- The National Judicial Commission must have clear guidelines on precise qualifications, experience, qualities and attributes for a good judge
- The higher courts should have a separate criminal division consisting of judges who have specialised in criminal law.
- Suggested that every court keep a record of the timestamps.
- It suggested that cases in which punishment is three years and below should be tried summarily and awarded punishment.
- Committee batted for a strong witness protection mechanism.
- Witnesses should get their allowances on the same day, with proper seating and resting facilities and be treated with dignity.
- It suggested enacting separate witness protection laws be enacted akin to the one in the United States.
Vacations for the courts
- Recommended reducing the period of vacation by 21 days, keeping in mind the long pendency of cases.
Arrears Eradication Scheme
- ‘Arrears Eradication Scheme’ to tackle cases that are pending for more than two years.
- Cases to be settled through Lok Adalats on a priority basis and be heard on a day-to-day basis.
- Favour of a permanent Statutory Committee to prescribe sentencing guidelines.
- Pregnant women and women with children below seven years old can be kept under house arrest instead of being lodged in prison, keeping in mind the future life of the child.
- In cases where the interest of society is not involved, the law should favour settlement without trial as recommended by the Law Commission.
- The Indian Penal Code has to be reviewed to enhance, reduce or apply alternative modes of punishments keeping in mind new and emerging crimes.
Reclassification of offences
- Committee recommended classifying offences as social welfare code, correctional code, criminal code, economic and other offences code.
Organised crime and terrorism
- Though crime is a State subject, a central law to be enacted to deal with organised crime, federal crimes, and terrorism.
- A Department of Criminal Justice must be established to appraise procedural and criminal law.
- The Committee suggested that sentences in economic offences not run concurrently, but consecutively.
- Law to be enacted to protect informers, it said.
- Presidential Commission for a periodical review of the functioning of the Criminal Justice System.
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Malimath Committee – Drawbacks
- While suggesting that the present adversarial system is made inquisitorial, the report does not take into account the increased burden on the court and the need for far greater infrastructure that such a shift would entail.
- In the inquisitorial system as followed in Germany and France there are moves to incorporate features of the adversarial system. The French system had come in for criticism in recent time Given these facts and the practical difficulties involved, the working of the inquisitorial system has to be studied in detail before it can be incorporated into our system.
- Speedy trials, fast-track courts, the huge undertrial population, and access to courts have been neglected.
- Crimes against members of the Scheduled Castes and the Scheduled Tribes do not find mention in the report.
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Malimath Committee is one of the important topics in Polity for the UPSC Exam Preparation. This article covers the topic comprehensively in both IAS Prelims as well as the UPSC Mains exam perspective.
Multiple Choice Question (MCQ)
Consider the Following Statements
- One of the Drawbacks of the Malimath Committee Report is that crimes against members of the Scheduled Castes and the Scheduled Tribes do not find mention in the report.
- The Malimath Committee does not favour the death penalty for rapists. The report states that wherever the death penalty is a possible punishment, it should be replaced with life imprisonment without commutation or remission.
- The Malimath Committee suggested the setting up of a State Security Commission, as recommended by the NPC, to insulate the police from political pressure.
- The Malimath Committee was given the mandate to review only the Code of Criminal Procedure (CrPC), 1973.
Which of the following statements are true?
A) Only 1, 2, and 3 are true
B) Only 2, 3, and 4 are true.
C) Only 1, 3, and 4 are true.
D) All the 4 statements are True.
Frequently Asked Questions about Malimath Committee
What was the objective of the Malimath Committee?
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