[Editorial Analysis] Efficiency vs Dignity

Mains Paper 2: Polity
Prelims level: Criminal Justice System
Mains level: Issues related to Criminal Justice System

Context:

• The authors talk about the possible impact of a centralized database for the justice system on Habitual offender communities.
What’s happening?

• Recently SC’s e-committee headed by Justice D Y Chandrachud published a draft document digitizing the criminal justice system.
• The main aim is to integrate digital technologies in courts to enhance judicial efficiency.
• The vision is to put in place an interoperable digital architecture that facilitates easy data-sharing among all pillars of the criminal justice system.
Interoperable Criminal Justice System (ICJS):

• The project is launched in 2019 and is set to be fully operational.
• It will replace the existing need-based physical exchange of information.
• It will integrate existing centralized data systems such as CCTNS, e-prisons and e-courts that ensure seamless exchange of live data among them.
Criticism/Concerns:

• The main concern is privacy due to the absence of data protection laws in India.
• There is also the concern of implications of the data being housed in the home ministry for judicial independence.
• The major issue is of a neglected danger that this seamless exchange likely to whitewash the biased and illegal process of data creation.
• In other words, it can possibly hamper the objectivity and neutrality of technology.
• It will have a huge impact on certain tribes classified as Habitual Offenders.
Habitual Offenders and Central Database:

• Habitual offenders are historically maintained a register of persons belongs to certain communities like Vimukta Janjatis that have been criminalized by the British through the Criminal Tribe Act 1871.
• For colonial rulers, Caste System offered the rationale to identify and branding of communities as HOs that resulted in extensive surveillance and intrusive policing.
1. This has been sustained post-independence through state laws allowing the police to maintain records of lives and movements of the communities.
2. The gravest injustice of being labeled as a HO is that it entirely hinges on police suspicion and discretion that are based on caste prejudices.
3. The register also includes juveniles that contravene the principles enshrined in the Juvenile Justice Act.
• The creation of permanent digital databases based on biased offline databases with no oversight that utilizes ambiguous and outdated provisions is grave injustice and illegal.
• For years, the Hos registers were hidden inside specific police stations and shred with other stations when required.
1. With CCTNS, police used digitized data for crime and criminal mapping and predictive policing.
2. The existence of HO registers is a ready refuge for the police both while looking for a person to pin a crime on as well as manufacturing one.
• Before the interoperable system, the accused has given a right to challenge the correctness of the record, but now the interoperable system creates a potential for the police information to be used to the detriment of accused persons without their knowledge.
• The e-committee’s vision to integrate all existing data systems to make ICJS one expansive centralized system would be feed with biased data of habitual offenders.
Way-Ahead:

• Even if caste-informed biases of data are taken away, we still need to consider the risks of centralized, interoperable and permanent digital databases on privacy and individual liberties.
• Efficiency and Digitization cannot recede the rights and dignities of marginalized individuals who are often the subjects of the Indian criminal justice system.

Prelims Questions:

Q.1) With respect to “WAG 12 B Locomotive”, consider the following statements:
1. It is manufactured by Madhepura Electric Locomotive Pvt. Ltd. (MELPL).
2. These locomotives are state of the art IGBT based, 3 phase drive and 12000 horse power electric locomotive.

Which of the statements given above is/are correct?
(a) 1 only
(b) 2 only
(c) Both 1 and 2
(d) Neither 1 nor 2
Answer: C

Mains Questions:

Q.1) Comment on the recent controversy surrounding on Lakshadweep Administration

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