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Chapter # 37. Legal, Judicial and Police Reforms


  • To ensure the safety and security of citizens and ensure access to effective legal systems and speedy delivery of justice.

Current Situation 

Legal and judicial reforms are urgently needed to address the massive pendency and capacity issues in Indian courts, which impede access to justice.

Several archaic and defunct laws have already been repealed and many others are in the process of being weeded out. The recently announced umbrella scheme on “Modernisation of Police Forces” to strengthen law and order and modernize the police is a welcome stimulus. A part of police reform is intrinsically linked to legal/judicial reform, which would result in efficient criminal justice dispensation.


  1. The major challenge facing the judiciary is the huge backlog of over 2.7 crore pending cases. There are also significant capacity issues.
  1. Ease of doing business in India is severely constrained by the inability to enforce contracts or laws, lengthy and costly litigation and arbitration processes, and archaic legislations. Although we have the Arbitration Law of 1996, which is in tune with global principles, it has not yielded desired results in terms of lessening the pressure on courts. Nor have the alternative dispute resolution mechanisms been utilized adequately. The World Bank “Doing Business Report” 2018 ranks India at 164 in ‘Enforcing Contracts’; though an improvement of 8 positions, it is clearly not an acceptable situation.
  1. Police reform until recently had been stuck due to various reasons. Police/law and order is a state subject, falling under List II of the Seventh Schedule of the Constitution of India.

In a federal set up like ours, this makes policy reform a rather sticky issue. After accounting for vacant positions, there are only 137 police personnel per 100,000 citizens (17.3 lakh in all). The UN recommends 222 police personnel per 100,000 citizens.

Way Forward

  1. Legal reforms 
  1. Create a repository of all existing central and state laws, rules and regulations
  • The centre and state(s) need to create repositories of laws, rules, regulations and government orders.
  • Alternatively, a three-tier repository system can be considered in line with the system of governance enshrined in the Constitution.
  1. Repeal redundant laws and introduce a new initiative to remove restrictive clauses in existing laws
  • For the first time since independence, as many as 1,420 redundant laws have been repealed over the past four years. An identical process should be followed by all states.
  • A new programme to repeal unnecessarily restrictive clauses and procedures in existing laws should be started. It will enhance both ease of living and ease of doing business indices.
  1. Consider the following changes in criminal justice and procedural laws
  • Introduce changes to procedural laws in line with the principles and thinking behind the Commercial Division Bill.
  • Change from the present litigant driven outlook to one led by an effective judiciary in line with global practice. To begin with, a review of the Code of Civil Procedure (CPC), 1908, may be considered.

o The Commercial Court, Commercial Division and Commercial Appellate Division of High Courts Act, 2015, needs to be amended to provide for pre-institution mediation and settlement by using the services of agencies created under the Legal Services Authorities Act.

The amendment can be on the lines of the provisions of Section 89 of the CPC, under which Courts can refer disputes to one of the alternate dispute resolution mechanisms after a suit is filed. It is also necessary to fast track the consequential amendments in the respective provisions of the CPC once the Act has been amended.

  • Reduce the criminalization of violations, and move towards compounding of minor offences:

o Sixty eight per cent of under-trials in jail are awaiting trial. The under-trial waiting time needs to be drastically reduced. It is also necessary to move towards community service and other non-imprisonment based punishments.

o It is necessary to re-examine the procedure for initiating criminal proceedings, arrest and bail. Summary proceedings and plea bargaining should be reorganized and implemented so that criminal cases can be settled in a time bound manner.

o Reform forensics and ballistics testing by outsourcing to accredited laboratories.

  1. Create a law-abiding society
  • It is necessary to inculcate respect for the rule of law among citizens. The process should start at the school level and can be effected by mandatorily introducing innovative programmes with well thought out content and activities.
  • Introduce incentive and sanction-based models of motivation to ensure that citizens abide by the law. The following measures may be considered:

o Prohibitive penalties should be imposed to check traffic violations, civic violations including littering in public, first time petty offenders, etc.

o Use of advanced technology is an essential pre-requisite to check these violations of the law; person-to-person direct interface should be minimized to eliminate corruption.

  • If there is a resource constraint, then additional resources may be allocated for this critical purpose.
  1. A time line for implementation of necessary amendments should be stipulated. Such amendments should also have stipulated and binding time limits within which reports, such as ballistics and forensic reports, need to be submitted. Review and sunset clauses in legislations may also be considered.
  1. Continuing legal education in selected areas should be made mandatory for lawyers and judges and rules of professional conduct and ethics need to be drawn up and implemented.
  1. Greater sensitivity on the part of government officials to citizens’ needs can help reduce the number of litigations/disputes. This will require an attitudinal reorientation among government officials through sensitization programmes. Future prospects of employees can be made contingent on their successfully completing such programmes.
  1. New laws should be drafted in simple, plain language.
  1. Judicial reforms
  1. A study carried out by the Ministry of Finance found that it takes, on an average, almost 20 years for a property related dispute to be resolved, and that it would take 324 years just to clear the present backlog at the current rate of disposal. The huge backlog of pending cases is a critical logistical and efficiency issue. To tackle the issue, the following capacity building and sustainable solutions should be considered in consultation with the judiciary:
  • Shift certain sections of the workload out of the regular court system to commercial courts, the commercial division and the commercial appellate division of High Courts for commercial disputes and the Criminal Judicial Magistrate for criminal cases at least in metropolitan areas to decongest courts.
  • A mechanism may be considered whereby litigants in a commercial dispute must first be made to exhaust the remedy of pre-institution mediation and settlement. However, it should be ensured that such cases do not create one more stratum in litigation.
  • The Arbitration and Conciliation Act, 1996, should be amended to make India a robust centre for institutional arbitration, both domestic and international. A new autonomous body, viz., the Arbitration Council of India, should be set up to grade arbitral institutions and accredit arbitrators to make the arbitration process cost effective and speedy, and to pre-empt the need for court intervention.
  • Merge and rationalize tribunals to enhance efficiency. Appointments to tribunals must be streamlined either through a specialized agency or under the Department of Personnel and Training (DoPT).
  1. Judicial decisions need to take account of their economic and social impact, especially in cases pertaining to contract, labour, tax, corporate and constitutional issues as observed by the Supreme Court in a recent judicial decision.
  1. An all-India judicial services examination on a ranking basis can be considered to maintain high standards in the judiciary. The selection process may be entrusted to the Union Public Service Commission (UPSC) for a cadre of lower judiciary judges (first induction level), Indian Legal Service (both centre and states), prosecutors, legal advisors, and legal draftsmen. This will attract young and bright law graduates and help build a new cadre that can enhance accountability in the governance system.
  1. Continuing training may be introduced to ensure development of skills, ethics, knowledge and awareness of international best practices.
  1. Multi-faceted training faculty for judicial academies including reputed lawyers, successful NGOs and others, for holistic exposure may be considered.
  1. Training modules should be live streamed on an e-platform to make information easily accessible, and widely disseminated.
  1. Consider a performance index for judges and a separate state wise index for ease of getting justice.
  1. Introduce an administrative cadre in the judicial system to streamline processes. To maintain judicial independence, the cadre should report to the Chief Justice in each High Court.
  1. Prioritize court process automation and ICT enablement for electronic court and case management, including electronic management of court schedules and migration of all courts to the unified national court application software.
  1. Facilitate the availability and usage of video-conferencing facilities to assist in speedy access to justice and to minimize logistical issues. At present, even the available video conferencing facilities are not utilized optimally.
  1. Police reforms

With fiscal support to the states now being looked after under the umbrella scheme, the following reforms maybe considered:

  1. The Model Police Act of 2015 can serve as the basis for legislative reform as it modernizes the mandate of the police, puts in place a governance mechanism that insulates the police from political interference and provides for the measurement and tracking of police performance.
  1. A task force may be created under the Ministry of Home Affairs (MHA) to skill personnel and identify non-core functions that can be outsourced to save on staff.
  1. States should be encouraged to ensure greater representation of women in the police force. The MHA should come up with a policy to encourage greater participation of women to achieve a target share of 30 per cent women among new recruits.
  1. Launch a common nation-wide emergency contact number to attend to emergency security needs of citizens.
  1. Integrate the Lokpal and Prevention of Corruption Acts into police reforms to enhance accountability.
  1. Transfers/postings of police personnel should be made more transparent and the involvement of police in prosecution needs to be looked at more closely.
  1. It is important to consider introduction of remodelled training modules, refresher courses and continuing education for police personnel including live-streaming of training modules on e-platforms. A concept of certification of security personnel with identified skill sets may be considered with linkage to promotion and deployment.
  1. Introduce reform of the First Information Report (FIR) lodging mechanism, including introducing filing e-FIRs for minor offences. Besides, police challans, investigation reports, etc., should be made available through the online portal of each police station.
  1. A separate cadre for exclusively looking into cyber-crimes, cyber threats and fraud needs to be developed.
  1. A panel of experts in psychology, negotiation, language proficiency and training may be put together.
  1. A technology centre may be considered for benchmarking and identifying suitable technologies for the police under BPR&D in collaboration with IITs. A separate National Cyber Security Division may be considered to support and coordinate initiatives of state governments in handling cyber-crimes.
  2. A separate dashboard for interface with citizens for reporting and redressal of cyber crimes may be considered. Besides, big data analytics may be utilized in a big way. The Crime and Criminal Tracking Network and Systems project may be completed along with the launch of Phase 2 for linking of crime, prosecution, court and prison databases.

Chapter # 41. Data Led Governance and Policy Making

Objectives Evidence based policy making should be made integral to the overall governance structure in New India, 2022-23. To achieve this, timely gen

Chapter # 40. Optimizing the Use of Land Resources

Optimizing the Use of Land Resources-Ensuring that land markets function smoothly, through efficient allocation of land across uses, provision of secu

Chapter # 39. Modernizing City Governance For Urban Transformation

Objective  City Governance For Urban Transformation To transform our cities into economically vibrant and environmentally sustainable habitats that p

Chapter # 38. Civil Services Reforms

Objective  civil-services-reforms To put in place a reformed system of recruitment, training and performance evaluation of the civil service to ensur

Chapter # 37. Legal, Judicial and Police Reforms

Objective To ensure the safety and security of citizens and ensure access to effective legal systems and speedy delivery of justice. Current Situation

Chapter # 36. The North-East Region

Objectives The North-East Region (NER) should: Have adequate road, rail and air connectivity, waterways, internet connectivity and financial inclusion

Chapter # 35. Balanced Regional Development: Transforming Aspirational Districts

Objective  Balanced Regional Development: Transforming Aspirational Districts Achieve balanced development in India by uplifting 115 districts, curre

Chapter # 34. Scheduled Castes (SCs), Scheduled Tribes (STs), Other Backward Classes (OBCs), Other Tribal Groups and Minorities

SCs, STs, OBCs, De-Notified Tribes (DNTs), Nomadic Tribes (NTs) and Semi-Nomadic Tribes (SNTs) Objective  To accelerate the socio-economic developm

Chapter # 33. Senior Citizens, Persons with Disability and Transgender Persons

SENIOR CITIZENS  Objective To ensure a life of dignity, social security and safety for senior citizens, enabling them to actively participate in econ

Chapter # 32. Gender

Objective  To create an enabling environment, sans institutional and structural barriers. To enhance the female labour force participation rate to at

Chapter # 31. Nutrition

Objectives  Under POSHAN Abhiyaan, achieve the following outcomes by 2022-23, compared to the baseline of 2015-16 (National Family Health Survey-4):

Chapter # 30. Universal Health Coverage

Objectives  On the strong platform of Pradhan Mantri – Jan Arogya Yojana (PM-JAY): Attain a coverage of at least 75 per cent of the population

Chapter # 29. Human Resources for Health

Objectives  Achieve a doctor-population ratio of at least 1:1400 (WHO norm 1:1000) and nurse-population ratio of at least 1:500 (WHO norm 1:400) by 2

Chapter # 28. Comprehensive Primary Health Care

Objectives  Under Ayushman Bharat, scale-up a new vision for comprehensive primary health care across the country, built on the platform of health an

Chapter # 27. Public Health Management and Action

Objectives  To revamp radically the public and preventive health system in the nation through the following strategic interventions: Mobilize public

Chapter # 26. Skill Development

Obejctives  For harnessing the demographic advantage that it enjoys, India needs to build the capacity and infrastructure for skilling/reskilling/up-

Chapter # 25. Teacher Education and Training

Objectives There cannot be a quality education system without quality teachers. Therefore, a thorough revamp of the entire ecosystem of teacher educat

Chapter # 24. Higher Education

Objectives  Increase the gross enrolment ratio (GER) in higher education from 25 per cent in 2016-17 to 35 per cent by 2022-23. Make higher education

23. School Education

Objectives Universal access and retention: o Hundred per cent enrolment and retention at elementary education and secondary education levels; achieve

Chapter # 22. Sustainable Environment

Objective  The objective is to maintain a clean, green and healthy environment with peoples’ participation to support higher and inclusive economic

Chapter # 21. Water Resources

Objectives By 2022-23, India’s water resources management strategy should facilitate water security to ensure adequate availability of water for l

Chapter # 20. Swash Bharat Mission

Objectives The key objectives of the Swachh Bharat Mission include: 1. Making India Open Defecation Free (ODF) by October 2, 2019. 2. Carrying out ext

Chapter # 19.Smart Cities for Urban Transformation

Objectives  Leverage the ‘Smart Cities’ concept in select urban clusters to: Drive job creation and economic growth. Significantly improve effici

Chapter # 18. Digital Connectivity

Objectives Given the relevance of digital connectivity to economic growth and the need to eliminate the digital divide by 2022-23, India should aim to

Chapter # 17. Logistics

Objectives Achieve multi-modal movement of cargo on par with global logistics standards. Reduce the logistics cost to less than 10 per cent of GDP fro

Chapter # 16.Ports, Shipping and Inland Waterways

Objectives  Double the share of freight transported by coastal shipping and inland waterways from 6 per cent in 2016-171 to 12 per cent by 2025. Incr

Chapter # 15. Civil Aviation

Objectives Enhance the affordability of flying to enable an increase in domestic ticket sales from 103.75 million in 2016-171 to 300 million by 2022.2

Chapter # 14. Railways

Objectives By 2022-23, India should have a rail network that is not only efficient, reliable and safe, but is also cost-effective and accessible, both

Chapter # 13. Surface Transport

Objectives Increasing the coverage and quality of roads and highways is critical to enhancing connectivity and internal and external trade. By 2022-23

Chapter # 12. Energy

Objectives The government’s on-going energy sector policies aim “to provide access to affordable, reliable, sustainable and modern energy”. At t

Chapter # 11. Minerals

Objectives Double the area explored from 10 per cent of obvious geological potential (OGP) area to 20 per cent.1 Accelerate the growth of the mining s

Chapter # 10. Travel, Tourism and Hospitality

Objectives  Increase India’s share in global international tourist arrivals from 1.18 per cent to 3 per cent. Increase the number of foreign touris

Chapter # 9. Housing For All

Objectives Provide every family with a pucca house, with a water connection, toilet facilities, and 24×7 electricity supply and access. Build 2.9

Chapter # 8. Financial Inclusion

Objectives Banking for the unbanked  o Bank accounts: Ensuring universal access to bank accounts, which are a gateway to all financial services.  o

Chapter # 7.Doubling Farmers’ Income (III): Value Chain & Rural Infrastructure

Objectives • Transform the rural economy through the creation of modern rural infrastructure and an integrated value chain system. • Leverage the

Chapter # 6.Doubling Farmers’ Income (II): Policy & Governance

Objectives Create a policy environment that enables income security for farmers, whilst maintaining India’s food security. Encourage the participati

Chapter # 5.Doubling Farmers’ Income (I): Modernizing Agriculture

Objectives • Modernize agricultural technology, increase productivity, efficiency and crop diversification. • Generate income and employment throu

Chapter # 4.Industry

Objectives Double the current growth rate of the manufac-turing sector by 2022. Promote in a planned manner the adoption of the latest technology adva

Chapter # 3. Technology and Innovation

Objectives India should be among the top 50 countries in the Global Innovation Index by 2022-23.1 Five of our scientific research institutions should

Chapter # 2.Employment and Labour Reforms

Objectives Complete codification of central labour laws into four codes by 2019. Increase female labour force participation to at least 30 per cent by

Chapter # 1 Growth (India @ 75)

Objectives Steadily accelerate the gross domestic product(GDP) growth rate to achieve a target of about 8 per cent during 2018-23 This will raise the


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