Interview of Prof. (Dr.) Anil Dawra
Professor, School of Law, GD Goenka University
He is Retd. IPS of 1982 Batch and has immense experience in working of Indian courts and has also practiced as an Advocate in Delhi High Court.
- To begin with, why specifically you chose a career as an academician?
I think academics are something, which has always interested me. Even before I joined the Indian police service, I was teaching in Delhi University, Campus Law Centre and subsequently during my service also teaching was a passion with me and I always remained in touch with academics. I was teaching the policemen of the different level starting from constable to DSP to SP and subsequently, I started also teaching judicial officers with five to ten years of service in the Chandigarh Judicial Academy and went for lectures to other Police Academies as well. So, in this way academics has been part of me and I think that’s a very good way of giving back to the society with whatever experiences you gain as a police officer or as a law enforcement officer. Further, as an academician, you are able to enunciate whatever you want to say or add up to whatever you want to say in the class in a much better way than a pure academician. So that help me in teaching and as I told you teaching is my passion, I am here not because of anything else but because of my sheer passion of being into academics, being in touch with whatever is happening and giving it back to the society.
- So, what about your journey particularly in the Criminal Law field?
As far as the journey in the criminal law field is concerned, when I was a student of law, I was always attracted towards the Penal laws and also the procedural laws. These were my favorite subjects. When I was doing my law, at that age for all students criminal law was always a very interesting subject because it relates to all the pastry items which you people read and which attracts them so whether they are good or bad but the point remains that they attract people and since as a student I was interested in law, subsequently I became a law enforcement officer in the Indian Police Service to get in touch more with criminal law. I also kept reading and subsequently, when I started teaching again I was back to criminal law because that was the subject where I felt very comfortable.
- You said that you served in The Indian Police Service for such a long period of time, would you like to share some of your experiences from that time?
Well if I look from the point of view of a common man it was very difficult for a common man to approach the police station because of the constant fear of approaching the police and over the years what I saw was that police to conduct a lot of courses in the Police Academy for the policeman. This is to change the attitude of the lower rank of the police officers towards the normal men or the complainant. But, somehow we were unable to because most of the people who were then in the police were the old mindset people. They were not so educated. I think the change has been brought in the last decade with the coming in of the new blood in the police because they all are techno savvy. They are aware of what is happening around, so the attitude automatically has changed quite a bit. It is from my learning I think that change in the attitude comes from generational change and it is easier to talk to the younger police officers in the manner in which they will understand and they will be able to correlate as the changes are going on in the society and why they should behave well. I believe whether the work is done or not is not material but the behavior towards the complainant is very important.
- Since you have been a part of this system what revolutionary change has been brought particularly to the criminal justice system?
I think the biggest change which one thought came in with the case of Prakash Singh where the New Police Act came into force in 2006. In 2005, Supreme Court by its judgment made mandatory for all the states to bring up with New Police Act because all were governed by the Old Police Act of 1851, which was a very old act but still there were implementation problems. There was not any Revolutionary change but definitely, some drastic changes were introduced like with the Criminal Procedure Code. Further, as far as the crimes related to women are concerned a lot was brought after the Nirbhaya case and the amendment were made in 2015 in the Indian Penal Code or in The Criminal Procedure Code or in the evidence act vis a vis complaints for other crime against women and then some new sections like 354 (A-D) etc were added. But nothing really drastic done to call it a revolutionary change. The same system continues.
- Sir, you know the system in and out, would you like to through some light on the hidden side of the law enforcement mechanism?
I think for this, I will speak more about the initial first part of the criminal justice system that is the police because, for any complaint, the person goes to the police. So, what we need to do is to change the setup of the police from a frightening setup to a more friendly setup so that at least the reporting officer can sit at a place which is detached from the main police station or for away from it. By doing this, people can feel confident of approaching the police or employee more women police because employing more women police will give a long way in gaining the confidence of the public.
- Indian legislatures came up with the new concept of Plea-bargaining. Do you really think that our system is ready to accept it as a new dimension?
Plea-bargaining, in fact, was introduced in India to reduce the burden on the court but before plea-bargaining, we also had the concept of compounding of offenses. Of course, it is slightly different from the other as plea-bargaining has charge bargaining and sentence bargaining. But I don’t think the court at the lower level are using plea bargaining much because it has to be given at the request of the accused and an application has to be made. Still, now I don’t feel it has taken off as much as it was envisaged to be. The objectives behind introducing plea-bargaining I don’t think they have succeeded in India so far. I think the courts have to take an active role just to see that it takes off. Also, there is a need to educate the lower law enforcement agencies and others so that they can educate the accused that plea-bargaining is also an option available to you and if it suits them, it will definitely reduce the number of cases.
- How do you think criminal law should be developed over a period of time?
Actually, law is very dynamic and it keeps on changing with the society. So to define one particular moment or to lay down any framework will not be appropriate but as you see in the cases of crime against women, majorly urban crimes force the legislature to come up with law. For example, if we go back maybe a decade or two decades back, there were lots of dowry deaths. That is why laws pertaining to dowry were made stricter than crimes against women laws were made stricter and so the rules of procedure change Maybe two decades earlier the IT Act came into being in the year 2000 and before that, there were not even cyber crimes. Thus, depending on what is happening in the society, the law will keep up adapting and adopting to the new circumstances and the legislature will also legislate the new laws that bring about changes in the long because of the requirements of the society. In my view, the law is one thing, which is very dynamic, and it will change with time and how it will change will be decided by the development in the society and the moral of the particular time.
- What are your viewpoints on the plight of the criminal justice system?
I’ll highlight 2-3 points. First is that in the present criminal justice system, the victim is neglected. Despite the fact that we have introduced the provisions of section 357 in the Criminal Procedure Code and in other acts also, but still, the victim is one person who is clearly forgotten and hence the focus needs to be brought back to the victim and helping the victim.
Secondly, the victim should also have the right to go and appeal revision and review of any case, which affects the victim. Right now it is totally left to the discretion of the Prosecution to go appeal, revision, and review, which should also be the choice of the victim. More than the society in heinous crimes, the victim, and his family are the ones who are affected. So they should have the right to engage a lawyer. Like legal aid is provided to the accused similarly it should be given to the victim’s family. This should also be done to represent their case strongly in the court.
- On the parting note, what would be your message to the Law students to encourage them and to help them grow them in their personal as well as professional lives?
I think, over a period of time most of the law students go to the corporate law firm for a Trademark or copyrights. The result is that there is a real dearth of good criminal lawyers. So I being a passionate follower of criminal law, I would suggest more and more should take criminal law so that they would be able to help the accused or victim and help them attain the objectives of ensuring justice. Students should be passionate about whatever they are doing. Even if they don’t take the criminal law or whatever subject they choose, they should be passionate and be involved in it and once you’re passionate about whatever you doing your progress in life, money and other things will automatically follow, that should not be the concern. You should have the strong foundation in law so that you can become strong successful lawyers and Legal Experts.
By: Mansi Gupta.