Loopholes in the Indian Criminal Justice System and How to Overcome Them
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Loopholes in the Indian Criminal Justice System and How to Overcome Them

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In the Indian criminal justice system, there are numerous loopholes that hinder its efficiency and effectiveness. From issues within the police force to problems in prisons and the judiciary, these loopholes contribute to delays, human rights violations, and an overall lack of trust in the system. This article will delve into these problems and offer potential solutions to address them.


The Indian criminal justice system is plagued by various shortcomings that result in a slow and ineffective process. One of the glaring issues is the high population of jails, indicating a larger problem within the system. This article aims to shed light on these problems and propose practical solutions.


The Indian police force is severely understaffed, leading to a lack of trust from the public. Custodial torture and deaths are distressingly common, with marginalized communities being disproportionately affected. Additionally, the investigation methods employed by the police often involve coercion and torture.

Vacancies and Understaffing

One of the main problems within the police force is the high vacancy rate, which stands at 30%. Out of the 2.8 million sanctioned posts, only 1.9 million are occupied. This shortage of officers leads to a backlog of cases and delays in the filing of charge sheets. Furthermore, the ratio of police officers to citizens falls short of the UN recommendation, with only 144 officers per 100,000 citizens.

Custodial Torture and Deaths

Custodial deaths and torture are shockingly prevalent in India. Between April 2017 and February 2018, 1674 custodial deaths were recorded, averaging 5 deaths per day. The data from 2005-2018 shows that out of 593 registered cases of custodial deaths, only 7 resulted in convictions. The victims of such torture and deaths are often from marginalized communities, and the methods used range from physical abuse to sexual violence.

Reasons for Third-Degree Torture Methods

There are several reasons why the police resort to third-degree torture methods:

  1. Inadequate infrastructure: Forensic labs, which are essential for examining evidence, often take months to send back reports. This delay hampers the filing of charge sheets and the determination of the accused's culpability.
  2. Time constraints: According to the law, the accused must be produced before a magistrate within 24 hours. This leaves the police with limited time to interrogate the accused, leading to the use of torture to extract confessions.
  3. Section 27 of the Indian Evidence act 1872: While confessions made to the police are generally inadmissible under Section 25, Section 27 allows for the admissibility of materials discovered as a result of a confession. This provision incentivizes the use of force or coercion to obtain confessions.

Recommendations for the Police Force

To address the issues within the police force, the following recommendations should be considered:

  1. Filling vacancies: All vacancies within the police force must be filled, and additional recruitment should take place. Increasing the recruitment of women, transgender, and LGBTQ officers will improve representation and reporting of crimes against these communities. Harassment faced by women and trans people while filing complaints can be reduced by increasing their presence within the police force.
  2. Investigation techniques: Torture must be replaced with more effective and humane methods of interrogation. Forensic psychology, which includes techniques such as brain fingerprinting and lie detector tests, can aid in evidence recovery. Modernizing forensic labs and providing regular training on the latest interrogation techniques is essential.
  3. Legislation against torture: Specific legislation addressing torture is necessary. India should ratify the UN Convention against torture and enact domestic legislation that imposes stringent punishment for torture and custodial torture.


Indian prisons often fail to serve their purpose of reforming criminals. Instead, they become breeding grounds for sexual abuse, violence, and extortion. Overcrowding and the mistreatment of undertrial prisoners are major issues within the prison system.


Prisons in India are consistently overcrowded. According to prison statistics in 2019, the capacity of prisons increased by 1.90%, while the number of prisoners increased by 2.69% compared to the previous year. Overcrowding leads to a host of problems, including increased violence and a lack of adequate facilities.

Recommendations for Overcrowding

To reduce overcrowding in prisons, the following measures should be implemented:

  1. Separate housing for undertrial prisoners: Undertrial prisoners, who have not been convicted and are awaiting trial, should be housed separately from convicted criminals. This will ensure that innocent individuals are not subjected to the same conditions as those who have been found guilty.
  2. Privatization of prisons: Funding for prisons can be addressed through the privatization of prisons. Contracts should be designed to protect prisoners' rights and ensure due process. Open jails, where undertrial prisoners have freedom of movement and only need to return at night, can be established to alleviate overcrowding.

Rapes in Prisons

Sexual abuse and rape are rampant in Indian prisons, posing a significant threat to inmates' safety. Addressing this issue requires an effective redressal mechanism and measures to prevent sexual abuse.

Recommendations for Addressing Rapes

To combat sexual abuse in prisons, the following steps should be taken:

  1. Reducing overcrowding: Overcrowding in prisons must be addressed as it contributes to the vulnerability of inmates. By reducing the number of prisoners, the risk of sexual abuse can be mitigated.
  2. Increased prison guards: The number of guards should be increased to ensure the safety of inmates. Complaints against offenders must be taken seriously, and stringent punishments should be imposed. Repeat offenders should be housed separately.
  3. Visitation rights and CCTV cameras: Allowing prisoners to visit their families outside the prison will provide them with a sense of normalcy and reduce the likelihood of sexual abuse. Installing CCTV cameras in cells and washrooms will act as a deterrent and provide evidence in case of any incidents.

Transgender Prisoners

Transgender prisoners face unique challenges and are particularly vulnerable to violence and discrimination. Separate prisons and additional measures are necessary to ensure their safety and well-being.

Recommendations for Transgender Prisoners

To protect transgender prisoners, the following steps should be taken:

  1. Separate prisons: Establish separate prisons for transgender individuals to ensure their safety and protect them from violence and discrimination.
  2. Inclusion of sexual minorities: Similar measures should be implemented for other sexual minorities, such as lesbian, gay, bisexual, and intersex persons, to protect their rights and safety within the prison system.


The Indian judiciary faces significant challenges that contribute to delays in the justice system. With a massive backlog of cases, it is crucial to address the reasons for these delays and implement reforms to expedite the process.

Backlog of Cases

The number of pending criminal cases in district and taluka courts is staggering, with a significant percentage pending for more than a year. Delays in justice delivery erode public trust and hinder the efficiency of the system.

Recommendations for Addressing Backlog

To tackle the backlog of cases, the following recommendations should be considered:

  1. Increase in the number of judges: Increasing the number of judges in all courts will help reduce the burden of pending cases and expedite the judicial process. Making the judiciary a more lucrative career option by improving salaries and offering other perks will attract more qualified individuals to the profession.
  2. Pilot projects and studies: Conducting pilot projects to study the reasons for delays in different states will provide valuable insights. Implementing changes based on these studies will help streamline the judicial process and ensure timely delivery of justice.


The Indian criminal justice system faces numerous challenges that undermine its effectiveness. From issues within the police force to problems in prisons and the judiciary, these loopholes contribute to delays, human rights violations, and a lack of trust. It is crucial to address these problems through comprehensive reforms, including filling vacancies, improving investigation methods, reducing overcrowding, and expediting the judicial process. By implementing these recommendations, we can strive towards a more efficient and just criminal justice system in India.

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