On 13th January 2018, Maharashtra National Law University Mumbai unveiled its Centre for Research in Criminal Justice (CRCJ). The Centre was inaugurated by Hon’ble Shri Justice N. H. Patil and Hon’ble Shri Justice A. S. Oka in the august presence of Sr. Adv. A. A. Kumbhakoni (Advocate General, Maharashtra), Sr. Adv. Milind Sathe and various legal luminaries of the Bar Association and Bombay High Court.

Introducing the Centre, the Vice Chancellor of MNLU Mumbai, Prof. (Dr.) Bhavani Prasad Panda brought to light the status of Criminal Justice System in India, and the importance of involving technology to strengthen the process of criminal justice. The students and faculty were made aware of the fact that CRCJ could act as a quality contributor towards efficient research and collection of data, both of which are the need of the hour in the Criminal Justice System.

Further, Sr. Adv. Milind Sathe, congratulated the University for its efforts and extended his cooperation towards the development of the University. He brought to light, the journey of criminal justice in India since the first struggle for independence, and explained how has this system evolved in the country. Concluding his speech, Sr. Adv. Sir Sathe reiterated the need for integrating the system of Criminal Justice with use of technology. He largely focused on the need of having studies on evolving subjects such as artificial intelligence vis-a-vis the judicial system of the country.

Addressing the inaugural session further, Sr. Adv. Shri. A. A. Kumbhakoni, reprised the role of the society, who act as principle stakeholders in criminal justice, and are instrumental for the system’s improvement and its smooth functioning. He brought to discussion, informative insights on the role of the police vis-a-vis in the past and the present. Concluding the speech, he spoke on the role of the Bar and in specific, the public prosecutor. Mr. Kumbhakoni congratulated the University towards its efforts in attempting to create a difference in the Criminal Justice System through the CRCJ.

As the University geared up to listen to the guests of honour, Hon’ble Shri Justice N. H. Patil and Hon’ble Shri Justice A. S. Oka, it was settled that the Round Table on Challenges to Criminal Justice Administration in Maharashtra, is to be the founding stone for discussions in the arena of improving Criminal Justice in the state as well as the country. Justice Oka further stated the significance of the active involvement of Bar Council and its members.

The concluding address for the inaugural session, delivered by Hon’ble Shri Justice N. H. Patil, became a food for thought for all, as there were varied points put forth for the students to ponder upon, and as members of CRCJ, to research upon them. The topics ranged from role of the investigation system and investigators, rate of acquittal in rape cases, importance and use of scientific evidence in criminal trial, the need for the state to provide mobile investigating and forensic labs, to the effectiveness of prison reforms, and the role of media today (with reference to the same affecting sound decision of the court subconsciously). A peculiar observation that was also made, related to absence of compensation mechanism to those acquitted honorably, and the fact that there is a dearth or, lack of inclination towards working on criminal matters in comparison to civil and constitutional ones.

The dignitaries appealed to the students to think of judiciary as one of the career options, and conveyed their best wishes to the CRCJ, MNLU Mumbai, and its members, who will be instrumental in its operations.

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