The Committee for Reforms in Criminal Laws has issued a Public Notice specifying its intention to indulge in an "open, transparent and fair" discussion on the proposed criminal reforms in India.
"Since its establishment, the Committee has been inclined to be open, transparent and fair in its working. We fully respect all the opinions and suggestion made to us. The structural part of it .e.g. composition- lies with the M.H.A. but for its functional part we are completely autonomous and willing to respect the suggestions," the Committee said.
The statement comes in the backdrop of a letter addressed to the Committee by various luminaries including former Judges of the Supreme Court and the High Courts, Advocates and former Bureaucrats, expressing concern over the Committee's composition and transparency in functioning.
'Lacks Diversity': Former SC/HC Judges, Lawyers Express Concern On Composition And Working Of Central Committee For Reforms In Criminal Law
The letter had urged the Committee to hold "meaningful public engagement" and to provide "additional mechanisms" for inputs by creating mechanisms on the website, through email/ post.
Responding to the same the Committee said,
"Registrations for the consultations are open to everyone irrespective of ideologies; views; preferences; sexual orientation; disabilities; race; ethnicity; class; caste; sex; gender; religion; place of residence; or, place of birth and as such, everyone is free to share their views, opinions, suggestions, recommendations, knowledge and experience on the questions of law. Towards this end, we have received an encouraging response in terms of registrations by several hundred professionals, stakeholders and functionaries of our Criminal Justice System."
So far as additional mechanism is concerned, the Committee has developed a web based platform for consultations with domain experts and professionals, including and the people at large having interests in these areas.
Inter alia, the Committee has assured that it will make the questionnaire available in various regional languages and has clarified that the word limit (200 words) for responding to the questions, is merely a guideline.
"The participants are free to exceed the word limit of 200 words as the same is not a hard rule but merely a guideline urging participants to exercise self-restraint for the sake of brevity," it said.
However, it has expressed variance on the suggestion to extend the deadline given to the public to respond to the consultation process. "The shorter time notice of response is due to the fact that the assignment has to be completed within a duration of six months," it added.
The Committee has expressed the willingness to engage with all the stakeholders in the criminal justice administration, working in any capacity, to gain inputs on the reforms in the criminal laws.
"We intend to facilitate this engagement by way of our consultations and forthcoming discussions groups or the written submission that can be made to us through email at [email protected]. We would be keen to have meetings with all such persons/organisations and professionals to share more about our work," the notice states.
The five-member Committee was constituted by the Union Ministry of Home Affairs vide Notification 1-2-19 Judicial Cell (Part I) dated 4-5-2020, to recommend criminal reforms in India. At present, it is operating as a team of nearly 30 individuals including Consultants, Researchers and Interns.
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