Facing criticism from various quarters over lack of diversity and representation, Prof Ranbir Singh the chairperson of the Central Government constituted ‘Committee for Reforms In Criminal Laws’ has issued a statement asserting that the structural part of it e.g. composition- lies with the Ministry of Home Affairs (MHA) but for its functional part it is completely autonomous and willing to respect the suggestions.
The statement adds that its structure consists of academicians, advocates, judges and other professionals, and as such, the Committee has remarkable diversity and competence in professional experience, affiliations, and, scholarship. “Moreover, nothing restricts us to acquire the advice, guidance, knowledge and experience of a galaxy of people who are available in this country and are willing to extend their cooperation to us. This makes us quite confident of accomplishing this task to the satisfaction of all the stakeholders in the system and society”, the statement reads.
Prof. (Dr.) Ranbir Singh, the chairperson of the said committee, states that the committee’s approach is guided by progressive and humane thinking in the realm of criminal law. He states that the committee is also alive to the most relevant debates, which are in the public domain and have a definite bearing on the need for just reforms in the criminal laws of this country.
Further, it is stated by the chairperson of the said Committee that the Committee has adopted an open methodology with respect the Consultative processes to be undertaken by the Committee. 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.
On the shorter time to offer comments to the questionnaire, the committee says it is due to the fact that the assignment has to be completed within duration of six months. The committee expresses its willingness to make the questionnaires available in various regional languages. In order to maintain the utmost transparency in its working, the committee would be posting all relevant updates for the public notice on the website. Looking forward to your valued cooperation, the statement concludes.
Yesterday several members of the legal fraternity had written a letter to the Chairperson and Members to the Committee for Reforms in Criminal Laws, National Law University, Delhi highlighting lack of transparency in its functioning. The signatories included former judges of the Supreme Court and High Courts, Senior Advocates, academicians, and retired bureaucrats. They noted that the committee lacks diversity both in terms of the social identity of the members, as well as their professional background and experience.
A group of women lawyers across the country had also written a letter to the ‘Committee for Reforms in Criminal Laws’, expressing their serious concerns regarding the lack in both diversity and in the representation of relevant stakeholders.