Chapter 13

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Crime and Punishment

In the past, crime was treated either with violent punishment or with overflowing sentimentality. Penology has now undergone a vital change in the progressive countries of the world. Crime has ceased to be regarded as a biological phenomenon; it is now recognised as a social product. Criminals are to be treated as persons and crimes as clinical problems to be diagnosed as in the case of other physical and mental diseases. Gandhiji would, therefore, hate crime but not the criminal. A careful analysis of crimes would indicate that the chief underlying causes are poverty, unemployment, inadequate education and broken homes1. In order to reduce crime, the social environment and circumstances have to be radically improved.
Prevention is always better than cure. It is to be expected that fundamental changes in the constitution will go a long way in effectively preventing crime in the country.
It is, however, idle to suppose that all kinds of crime would automatically cease under swaraj. Free India will also have to tackle crime, award punishments and maintain prisons. But the nature of prisons shall be wholly different from the existing patterns, which instead of reforming the convicted prisoners harden them into incorrigible criminals. Under the new Constitution, prisons shall be in the nature of well-organised reformatories.
In free India, there shall be no capital punishment even for the most serious crimes. The State shall maintain clinics for delinquent children in order to prevent crime at the very source. Criminal law shall be rendered as short and simple as possible. Complexity of laws tends to promote crimes and criminal mentality.
Management of Crime and Justice

Fifty years of independence has witnessed deterioration in administration of police and justice. Criminalisation of police, and heavy accumulation of cases and corruption in courts have become major concerns.
The problem truly is remote control democracy. Corrupt police inspectors tie up with petty politicians and criminals and neutralise the district head to secure favoured postings. This initiates criminalisation of politics leading to transfer of honest district heads of police and justice while the corrupt prosper! District heads too have now joined the abuse.
In a democracy, police and justice should be under local control. Their district chiefs should be on contract appointed and impeachable with the approval of the elected body. They will then be professionally accountable to the people, protect their subordinates from political abuse, and the people from harassment.
The elected district governor, district judge and district police chief will then work as a team, ensure required budget, resolve bottlenecks, and innovate, such as temporary courts or reverting power to villages, to ensure proper investigation and speedy justice.


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