Criminal Justice and Human Rights

Criminal Justice has been derived from two words: criminal and justice. Criminal justice explains that even criminals deserve unbiased trial and honest justice. This can be provided to them only through the rights which are exclusively provided to them by the constitution of the land. Likewise, human rights are natural rights that any person possess by default.

What is Criminal Justice?

Criminal justice refers to a system by which a person who is accused of any crime gets justice. A person, accused of any crime, needs a proper representation of his case. Until it is proven guilty in the court of law, no person can be called as criminal. Because of this concept, every person or accused of a crime, is given fair chance to put forth his points. So, for that purpose a system needs to exist, which can provide them a fair opportunity to get justice. This system is called the criminal justice system.

The criminal justice system comprises of three main parts which are as follows −


This is the law enforcement agency. Police is basically concerned with peace keeping and enforcement of law for the smooth administration of the State. Whenever an offence is committed, it is the police who lodge an FIR and proceed further with arrest and further investigation. It is during their investigation that the evidences are collected against the offender. If the police do not find any substantial evidence, then the offender is released even before going to the next stage.

But, if there exists any substantial evidence then, a charge sheet is filed before the Court in which all the details regarding offence, defined in details.


The Court is the place where the dispute is settled. The Court majorly comprises of a Judge, a defence lawyer, a prosecution lawyer, and other judicial staffs. The Judge is appointed by the State. Prosecution lawyer may be a private person or government authorised person. A defence lawyer is a private person.

When the charge sheet is filed before the Court, the Court takes cognizance (in some cases suo motto cognizance is taken). After the cognizance is taken the Court proceeds with charging the alleged person and moving further with evidences and arguments of the prosecution and defence lawyers. When both the parties have presented the case, the Judge on the basis of the evidence and facts and circumstances of the case gives a judgment. Whereby, if the alleged person is not found guilty he is released but if he is found guilty then he is sentenced to jail as per the punishment provided for that particular offence.

Correctional or Rehabilitation Centre

Jail, prisons, or agencies for detaining and supervising the offenders is the last stage of this system. A convicted person is sent to jail i.e. after pronouncement of the judgement by the Court. It is a place where the criminal has to stay till he completes his punishment period. Here, the person is detained and helped to rehabilitate.

It is not compulsory to always send the criminal to the prison, in some cases where the criminal is a juvenile or a person of unsound mind, they are sent to rehabilitation centres.

What is a Human Right?

There are various rights which are provided to an individual through the laws or by the State. But there are certain rights, which are vested in human beings right from their birth itself, irrespective of their caste, creed, sex, religion, place of birth, etc. These rights are called the human rights. Human rights can neither be given nor can be taken away from any individual.

The criminal justice consists of Police, Judiciary and Correctional Institutions. These three play a vital role in reinstatement of the human rights of an individual which are sometimes abridged during the criminal procedure against a criminal. There have been cases of violence in police custody, illegal detention, rape of female offenders, etc. They exist all the time and need to be protected by the criminal justice system. The Court has intervened in these situations whenever it came to its notice but, these incidents are yet not under control.

There have been many conventions and declarations such as Universal Declaration of Human Rights, International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights, etc., which have been conducted worldwide. Several countries have participated and signed consent to be its part. These conventions and declarations are aimed at the recognition of these rights in order to appreciate and protect them.

Criminal Justice and Human Right in view of India

India has accepted and signed the declarations and has made law in order to protect these human rights. The Indian Constitution has given the Human rights the status of Fundamental rights. Article 21 of the Indian Constitution being one of the most important provision which guarantees right to life and personal liberty. This includes various other rights.

Article 20(1) provides that a person can be prosecuted only for an offence which is considered to be an offence on the date of its commission and not in past or future.

There are certain laws which provides a criminal cannot be tried for the same offence twice. It is also called double jeopardy which has been provisioned in the Constitution, Criminal Procedure Code in a proper manner

There have been many cases which have laid down the guidelines which the State should follow while dealing with the criminal. Like Maneka Gandhi case, Parmanad Katara case, Arnesh Tiwari case, etc.

Factors responsible for Human Rights violation in India Criminal Justice System

The factors responsible for the violation of Human Rights in the Indian Criminal Justice system are as follows −


The Police is the major pillar for the law enforcement in the country. But, when the police do not respect the fundamental rights or the human rights of the people then is becoming a concern. The police overpower the common people and do not allow them to raise their voice.

There have been several cases where police have illegally detained a criminal or has abused a criminal in the prison. The complaints of police tampering the evidences has been raising from a long time now.


Prisons are made for the purpose of rehabilitation and betterment of the criminals. But, their conditions are pitiful. The criminal do not have a proper a place to sleep or even to hold out their daily morning chores. The food given to a prisoner is such that a normal person would not prefer to eat.

Moreover, there have been cases of unlawful detention. The prisoners have been detained for a period more than that awarded to them. In the case of Hussainara Khatoon, the Supreme Court considered it to a shame on the judicial system.


The State is considered to be the protector of the human rights in the nation. But the protector is instead the one violating the human rights. The executive of the State is having a lot power in their hands, which they are misusing and sometimes even involved in coercive processes.


The mere existence of a criminal justice system is not enough. It is the need of the hour that there should be a proper mechanism which would encourage and protect the human rights of all including the criminals. Even though the criminals are kept away from the society for them to rehabilitate and become a better fit for the society but their rights in no way could be taken away.

Proper steps and measures should be taken by the State for the reinstatement of the same. There should be strict punishment for the police officers abusing their powers and there should be regular check on the prisons in order to provide basic amenities to the prisoners.

Frequently Asked Questions

Q1. Can the human rights of a criminal be taken away?

Ans. No, the human rights of no individual can be given or taken away. They are their birth rights.

Q2. Where are these Human rights prescribed?

Ans. The Human rights which are recognised by the world are given in Universal Declaration of Human Rights (UDHR) by the United Nations

Updated on: 08-May-2023


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