The criminal justice system of Pakistan is designed to maintain law and order, ensure public safety, and provide justice to all citizens. It is a complex system that operates at both the federal and provincial levels, with various law enforcement agencies, courts, and correctional institutions involved in the process.

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The criminal justice system’s primary objectives include enforcing criminal law, protecting the public by deterring crime, educating people on how to avoid victimization, and ensuring that suspects, defendants, and individuals in custody are treated fairly and efficiently. The ultimate aim of this system is to uphold the principles of criminal jurisprudence, ensuring that the guilty are punished and the innocent are acquitted. The criminal justice system comprises three main components, namely the police, prosecution, and courts. In this paper, we will delve into the Criminal Justice System of Pakistan.

Basic PILLARS of Criminal Justice System:

The criminal justice system in Pakistan is focused on the judicial dispensation of criminal justice and is supported by three main pillars:

The pillars of a system refer to the various components that make up the system. These components may include people, processes, technology, and resources. Each of these pillars plays a critical role in ensuring that the system functions smoothly and effectively.

Investigation of Trial:

The first step in the criminal justice system is the investigation of crimes by the police. Once they have gathered evidence, they present the case to the prosecutor’s office, who decides whether or not to pursue charges. If charges are filed, the case goes to trial in either a district court or a higher court, depending on the severity of the crime.

During the trial, the defendant has the right to be represented by a lawyer and to present evidence in their defense. If the defendant is found guilty, they are sentenced by the judge and may be sent to prison or fined. The correctional institutions in Pakistan are responsible for the rehabilitation and punishment of convicted individuals.

Overall, the criminal justice system in Pakistan is still facing many challenges, such as corruption, lack of resources, and delays in the process. However, efforts are being made to improve the system and ensure that justice is served fairly and efficiently for all citizens.

In Pakistan, the justice system follows an adversarial framework. Under this system, the role of the courts is to determine the guilt or innocence of the accused. For instance, if the court finds that a crime has occurred, but there is not enough evidence to prove that the accused is guilty, it is not the court’s responsibility to identify the true perpetrator. Rather, the burden of proof lies with the police or the complainant, as appropriate.

In adversarial proceedings, parties take on a dominant role while the judge serves as more of a passive umpire. Preparing for proceedings falls on the parties themselves. It’s essential to know that the criminal justice system consists of three main components:

i. Police:

When it comes to investigations, the police are often the ones leading the charge, but this approach may have its drawbacks. One issue is that police officers may become unduly invested in proving their suspect’s guilt. In a well-known legal case, Lal Khan Versus SHO, Police Station Kotwali, Jhang, the Lahore High Court stated that the primary objective of the investigation was to…

  • Conduct a spot inspection
  • Gather information regarding the incident under investigation
  • Collect evidence to support the findings

The prosecution serves as a vital intermediary between the judiciary and the police. They are responsible for presenting the case to the court and representing the interests of law enforcement. In other words, the prosecution is the one who advances the police’s case to the courts.

The role of the prosecution, as interpreted by the courts, is to:

List of Responsibilities for Legal Officials:

Here are a few key duties that legal officials are responsible for:

  • Conducting a thorough review of challans related to the arrest of offenders
  • Presenting the prosecution’s case in court
  • Challenging the defense’s assertions and upholding the law’s provisions
  • Advising the Investigation Officer on how to address any gaps in the investigation process.

The criminal court is the backbone of the criminal justice system, ensuring that the “due process of law” is upheld during all stages of the arrest-to-release process. Here are a few of the court’s responsibilities:

Legal Proceedings: A Summary of Key Responsibilities

Here are some of the key responsibilities to keep in mind during a legal proceeding:

  • Commence legal action once a charge has been filed.
  • Provide the accused with full information regarding the charges.
  • Render a guilty verdict if the defendant’s guilt is proven, or acquit them if reasonable doubt exists.

The Criminal Procedure Act of 1898 (CrPC) and Pakistan Penal Code 1860 (PPC) are the foundations of Pakistan’s criminal justice system. These laws outline the system’s procedures and functions, including the reporting of cases to the police, court trials, appeals and correctional measures at jails.

The Criminal Procedure Code (CrPC) is a procedural law that outlines the specific mechanisms to be followed during every investigation, inquiry, and trial for any offense under the PPC or other related criminal statutes. This law is divided into three stages: investigation, inquiry, and trial.

  1. Investigation: This phase encompasses all proceedings under the Code that involve gathering evidence by a police officer or another individual authorized by a Magistrate.
  2. Inquiry: Occurs when a Magistrate verifies the facts of a police report or complaint made by an individual.
  3. Trial: A “trial” is a legal process that concludes with a verdict of guilt or innocence.

Breaking Down the System into Essential Stages:

Administration of Criminal Justice:

Cardinal Principles of the Administration: The higher courts have established several cardinal principles through their judgments to guide the subordinate courts in the administration of criminal justice. Here are some of them:

  1. Interpreting the Burden of Proof in Criminal Cases: In criminal cases, the burden of proof rests solely on the prosecution. To secure a conviction, the prosecution must prove their case against the accused beyond a reasonable doubt. Any inconsistencies or doubts raised by the defense must be resolved in favor of the accused.
  2. The Presumption of Innocence in Criminal Law: According to cardinal rule of criminal law, an individual accused of a crime is considered innocent until the prosecutor can prove their guilt beyond any reasonable doubt. If the prosecution fails to fulfill their burden of proof, which never shifts to the defense, the accused is entitled to the benefit of the doubt.
  3. No Vested Right to a Specific Court for the Accused: The accused does not hold a vested right to be tried in a particular court. If the allegations proposed against them make a strong case for a transfer to a special court, this should not be disputed. Any other interpretation would lead to an unusual circumstance and result in duplicate court proceedings.
  4. Quality Over Quantity: The Importance of Evidence in Criminal Cases. When it comes to deciding a criminal case, the quality of the evidence takes precedence over the quantity.
  5. The Significance of Evidence Quality over Quantity in Criminal Cases: In criminal cases, evidence quality takes precedence over quantity. In fact, an abundance of evidence can sometimes hinder a case, as it may be challenging for a jury to sift through to determine what is pertinent.
  6. Unique Circumstances of Criminal Cases: It’s important to remember that each criminal case is distinct. The facts and circumstances in one case may not be comparable to another, even if there are certain similarities

Most Important Components:

The justice system is a crucial pillar of any society. It is responsible for maintaining law and order and ensuring that individuals who violate the law are held accountable for their actions. There are several components of the justice system that work together to achieve this goal.

The first and perhaps most important component of the justice system is law enforcement. Law enforcement officers are responsible for upholding the law and investigating any criminal activity. They play a critical role in ensuring that individuals who break the law are apprehended and brought to justice.

The second component is the judiciary. The judiciary is responsible for interpreting the law and ensuring that justice is served. Judges and magistrates preside over court cases, hear evidence, and make decisions based on the facts presented before them.

The third component is the correctional system. This includes prisons, jails, and other facilities that are designed to house individuals who have been convicted of crimes. The correctional system is responsible for rehabilitating offenders and preparing them to re-enter society as productive citizens.

All of these components work together to ensure that justice is served and that individuals who break the law are held accountable for their actions. Without any one of these components, the justice system would be incomplete and unable to function effectively.

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