India’s Criminal Justice System Cannot Be Trusted With the Death Penalty


The central government recently announced the enactment of an ordinance on sexual assault to act as a temporary solution until the laws can be amended. The ordinance establishes the death penalty for those guilty of raping children under 12 years of age. In addition, he requested quick follow-up sexual assault investigations, which will be completed within two months, the trial within two months and all appeals six months after that.

This is incredibly ambitious, at best, or foolishly naive, at worst.

Sexual assault is a horrible experience for the victim. Society may choose to categorize some as worse than others and attach a death sentence accordingly, but we can not compare experiences. It is up to the authorities to investigate the crime diligently, impartially and scientifically. How any of these criteria is met in India is a mystery.


IPS officers can not investigate crimes, research officers (IO) are from state cadres (on average, an IO has 450 cases at any given time) and none – I repeat, none – is formally or systematically trained to be researchers specialists of any type of crime

IPS officers receive disjointed training, which includes the overseas delivery of courses, but none are trained in specific crimes. As a result, there are no specialized departments. Not for terrorism, not for theft, not for violation. Numerous attempts to completely modernize our police apparatus and rewrite the CRPC and IPC of the colonial era have failed. Police impartiality, cold though it may seem, is key to any investigation.

Impartiality must be holistic: for the victim, its own structures of command and political interference. Cressida Dick, Commissioner of the Metropolitan Police Service (Scotland Yard) in London, recently reminded her investigators of sexual offenses to maintain their professionalism and impartiality after several high-profile prosecutions failed when the prosecution case was destroyed by the defense , which found gaps in the statements and evidence of the victims: what we know in India as a “false case”.

The data of the National Office of Criminal Records of 2015 show that 95% of the perpetrators in cases of rape are known by their victims; If the yoke of the death penalty were hung around a member of the victim’s family, would the notoriously conservative society of India support a victim, with the death looming on the horizon for one of their own?

Parallel to the police investigation, there should be a forensic investigation that, quite often, can produce irrefutable evidence contrary to the statements collected by the police. No prosecution can have a chance of success if both sets of tests do not align. Once again, our police authorities fall far short of international standards: almost all police departments are completely lacking in forensic evidence gathering agents and processing facilities. The human DNA profiles bill, approved by the UPA-II, has stalled and failed. In 2014, the Delhi police allowed 1,500 DNA samples to expire, which led to failures in the prosecution.