Delay In Criminal Trial – Criminal Justice System


“Criminal law primarily concerns with social protection and prescribes rules of behaviour to be observed by all. Law punishes for deviance, transgression, violation and for omission. Liberty of the individual and security and order in the society or public order are delicate and yet paramount considerations. To keep the weal balanced must be the prime duty of the Judiciary.”[1]

India is a democratic society which is governed by Rule of law and it is enshrined in the Indian constitution, which the people of this country have given to themselves.[2] Rule of law in simple terms means that law is supreme and the rule of law is protected when there is a legal system, which is readily accessible and responds to the need and to the problems of citizens in a fair and non-discriminatory manner.[3] The development of any country is measured by the economic and judicial set up and living standard of the people, which also includes fair and speedy justice.[4] The Indian constitution has guaranteed its citizens fundamental rights which are basic human rights. The quest for the truth is the foundation of justice system which aspires to protect and preserve the rule of law.[5] The administration of criminal justice system continuously evolves in response to the changing socio-economic circumstances.[6] It is the prime duty of the judiciary to keep the balance, criminal law that concerns with social protection and prescribes rules of behaviour to be observed by all and on the other hand the liberty of individual and security and in order in the society or public order.[7] The function of judiciary is to protect the people’s right. Adjudicate between two individuals, adjudicate whether a person is guilty of an offence or not readily apparent is to ensure good governance of the nation.[8] The litigant knocks the doers of the court with an expectation to get justice. However the dim ray of hope is lost when a delay is caused in the justice. Lord Denning said, “Law’s delays have been intolerable. They have lasted so long as to turn justice sour.”[9] The criminal trials do not commence for a long period as three to four years after the accused was remitted to the judicial custody.[10] The delay is not of five to ten years but vary from ten to twenty to thirty years. The main object of Criminal justice system is to maintain law and order in society and to protect the principle of natural justice such as rule of law in the society. There is a big lacuna in our Criminal Justice system as there are no stronger Laws, Acts, and Statutes to protect the person from different types of injury which is caused by the present criminal justice system. The judicial and legislation response rate in this context is very poor as most of the accused person was released due lack of evidence or hostile witness or due to taking advantage of the lacunas in the present judicial system. Crime erupts and ignites the popular sentimental interest, fear, desire for revenge, a certain morbid fascination and sentimental interest in the victim or even in the press or on the screen. To amend laws as per the needs of human rights it is essential because of the horrendous growth rate of crime, the costliness of crime and there is an urgent need for mitigation and minimization of the sufferings caused by the present judicial system. There is a pressing need to have a well structured legislation and judiciary as well as there is a substantial need to have over haul police practices in favour of victims of various crimes.


Maintenance of peace and order are essential in any society for human beings to live peacefully and without fear of injury to their lives, limbs and property.[11] When an act is done which amounts to the violation of law and order or societal norms which are forbidden by the legislature, the criminal justice system comes into action. But the action of the system is always so slow that it again harasses the victim. It would be right to say, if it took many years then the victim will remain always be victim but now victim of system. The interest of the society lies in punishing the guilty and exoneration of the innocent but the determination of the guilty or innocent must be arrived at in reasonable time. Justice P.N Bhagwati observed a time frame in these following words.

“Even a delay of one year in the commencement of the trial is bad enough, how much worse could it be when the delay is of 3 or 5 or 7 or even 10 years. Speedy trial is of essence to criminal justice system and there is no doubt that delays in trial itself constitutes a denial of justice”.[12]

The delay in trial is not recent phenomena; it has assumed a gigantic proportion[13], but the attitude of 21st century hesitates to responds positively to the hallowed human rights, of the dignity of personhood versus blatant disregard by states of compassion for the under trials.[14] The problem of delay in the disposal of cases pending in trial Court is currently one of the major problems of judicial administration, although it has been with us since a long time.[15]  Delay in criminal justice system has defeated the very goal on which the justice relies.[16] The Law Commission of India in its Seventy – Seventh Report has observed “Long delay in the disposal of cases has resulted in huge arrears and a heavy backlog of pending file in various courts in the country. A bare glance at the statements of the various types of cases pending in different courts and of the duration for which those cases have been pending is enough to show the enormity of the problem. Currently  2.7 crore[17] cases are pending in the trial courts and out if this number a relevant one will be under- trail prisoners who will be languishing in jails owing to their in capabilities to seek bail. The concept of delay can be understood with an illustration of a passenger and mail train- a journey by a passenger train takes 40km/hr and took five minutes halt at each station whereas, a mail train runs at a higher speed and with few stops which highlight the difference in the time taken as also the resultant fatigue to the traveller.[18]

There are numerous reasons for the delay in justice delivery system such as

  • Absence of counsel.
  • Excessive case set of hearing.
  • Unnecessary adjournments.
  • Deficiency of judicial staff.
  • Witness not coming for hearings.

The nature of delay in Criminal trial can be classified into two stages:-

  1. At the time of Investigation.
  2. At the time of Trial.

Delay in providing justice as denial of justice has been well interpreted by Justice P.N Bhagwati in the following words –

“I am pained to observe that the judicial system in the country with considerable anguish that I say so, our judicial system is breaking almost on the verge of collapse. These are strong words I amusing but it is under the weight of arrears.”[19]

According To Martin Luther King “Law and Order exist for the purpose of establishing justice and when they fail in this purpose they become dangerously structured dam that block the flow of social progress”[20]. Thus if the courts fail to impart justice and maintain law and order then that court would act as a dam that block the social progress. Our judicial system might be in same condition and would be considered as a dam blocking the social progress if timely no solution is found.


Indian Constitution is one of the most progressive Constitutions in the world which guarantees equal rights for men and women and which also guarantee’s to the protection of social, economical and political justice to all citizens. Indian population which is already increasing needs to control and maintain peace and security in the society for this purpose the rights of criminals, victims juvenile which described by the human right as basic right of human being. This criminal law should be amended as per the Human Right to protect the rights of human being as per article 368 of the Indian Constitution. As per ‘Cease Beccaria’ was perhaps the first criminologist who comprehend crime as a symptom social disease. He defines crime as disease. This concept of crime led penologist to believe that struggle against crime was above all struggle against poverty, sickness, alcoholism and prostitution this in other words, means that if these social evils could be eliminated, the problem of crime prevented would be considerably eased. The concept of social order and peace is essential for the society and its member who always believes in the notion ‘Live and let-Live’ Principle. But there are a few sect of people or society member who for some reason or the other, deviate from the normal behaviour pattern and associate themselves with anti social elements. The primary duty of every state to protect its citizen and maintain peace in society who disturb the society or who are the Law breakers punishing them for disturbing and violation of rights of the citizen for this Law is an important instrument to treat them property and maintaining peace and order in society.

If the law amended as per need of the society, if the law will stringent, strict then the problem of various crime will not arise in society at large the ratio of crime and criminality in society will be reduce. Amendment in criminal law is necessary to reduce these criminality, crime in society and to enjoy others or society as peaceful society.

Read – Theories Of Punishment

[1] Aslam Babalal Desaiv. State of Maharashtra AIR 1993 (1) SC 1993.

[2]  Bharati Yadav v. State of U.P. (also known as Nitish kataria case), 2006 (135) DLT 620.

[3]  A. P. J. Abdul Kalam, “Delay in Administration of Criminal Justice”, 3 K.L.T.6 (2007).

[4] Chander Kanta Negi, “Judicial Reform and Speedy Justice in India”, 44 Journal of Constitutional and Parliamentary Studies 300 (2010).

[5]  Rupam Jagota, “Plea Bargaining and Criminal Justice System: an Overview” Vol Bar Association of India Compendium and 38-47 (2010).

[6]  Arun Geetesh, “Plea Bargaining: An Analysis of its Role in Criminal Justice Administration”, 2, CrLJ and 139 (2009).

[7] Aslam Babalal Desaiv. State of Maharashtra,AIR 1993 (1) SC 1993.

[8] Arun Mohan, Justice, Courts and Delay 2 (Universal Law Publishing Co., Delhi, 2009).

[9] Yatindra Singh, “IT: The Road to Speedier Justice”, 2(3), SCC(J)and 60 (2005).

[10] Kotagiri Srinivasa Rao, “Alternative Dispute Resolution in Criminal Jurisprudence”, VOL, CrLJ and 262 Sept. 2009(3).

[11] Pillai

[12] Hussainara Khatoonv. State of Bihar, AIR 1979 SC 1360

[13] S. N. Sharma, “Fundamental Right to Speedy Trial: Judicial Experimentation”, 38:2,  236 (1996).

[14] Saurabh Mishra and Sarvesh Singh, “Right to Speedy Trial –One Big Illusion”, 2 CriLJ 133 (2004).

[15] Law Commission of India, seventy-seventh Report on Delay and Arrears in

trial Courts (1978) P-1, Para 1.1

[16] Jagmohan Singh, “Human Rights and Right to Speedy Trial”, 26 Civil and Military Law Journaland 179 (1990).

[17] solution/15821196.shtml&cp accessed on dated[21/07/2019]

[18] Arun Mohan, Justice, Courts and Delay 5 (Universal Law Publishing Co., Delhi, 2009).

[19] Anurag K. Aggarwal,”Justice Delayed is Justice Denied : Speedy Justice Through Arbitration”, in Souvenir of All India Seminar on Judicial Reforms, 4-6 December, 1998, Vigyan Bhawan, New Delhi at pg. 25 (referred from Dr. Rattan Singh, “Fast Track Court in India : A Movement Towards Speedy Justice”, 41 Journal of Constitutional and Parliamentary Studies 297 (2007).

[20] Letter From Birmingham Jail [Martin Luther King]

Pranav Kaushal

Pranav Kumar Kaushal, Content Writter, Law Corner, Student B.A., LLB 7th Semester, School of Law, Bahra University, Shimla, Himachal Pradesh.

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