The spirit of Rule of Law is that the law must prevail and not the power centers.” – Prof. B.B. Pande

Eastern Book Company organized a launch of “Criminal Law & Criminal Justice: Advanced Legal Writings”, a book by Professor BB Pande, on February 26th, 2022, co-hosted by National Law University, Delhi. The book is the result of a one-of-a-kind endeavor, targeted primarily at extending the frontiers of criminal law and criminal justice.

The event was attended by India’s leading jurists, attorneys, and academics, including Justice MN Venkatachaliah, Former Chief Justice of India, Justice Madan B Lokur, Former Judge, Supreme Court,  Prof Upendra Baxi, Emeritus Professor of Law, University of Warwick and Delhi, Prof Issa Shivji,Professor Emeritus of Public Law & First Julius Nyrere Professor of Pan African Studies, University of Dar es Salaam, Prof (Dr) MP Singh, Distinguished Professor of Public Law, Jindal Global University, Mr Gopal Subramanium, Senior Advocate and Mr Siddharth Luthra, Senior Advocate.  Following the inaugural event, Professor Srikrishna Deva Rao, Vice-Chancellor of NLU Delhi, chaired a panel discussion on Criminal Law and Criminal Justice.

About the book 

The book has 12 chapters, divided into 4 parts, namely 

  1. History and evolution of Western & Indian Criminal Law/Systems 
  2. The elements & essential principles of criminal law/liability. 
  3. The critiques of the formal criminal law systems and their resurrection.
  4. The forgotten and ignored premise of the processual justice. 

The first nine papers are about substantive criminal law, and the last three are about procedural law. Each chapter delves into a specific key subject in terms of critical inquiries/issues. 

The writings aim to provide the reader with a better grasp of the dynamics of the criminal law/criminal justice and rule of law from a broad perspective, spanning nations and periods. They reflect the normative and grassroots legality of criminal law and criminal justice. The goal of these writings is to provide a critical understanding on problems that are underrepresented in legal curricula. They have a broader and more critical perspective on criminal law and criminal justice issues that is not constrained by course requirements. The Writings will be ground-breaking in terms of upgrading the knowledge base in the criminal law and criminal justice subjects for students, instructors, and researchers.

As Ms. Harpreet Kaur (host) was describing the book, she mentioned the preface of the book which said that the idea of the book, had been in the professor’s mind since the last six decades of teaching criminal law, which has now culminated into the present book. Furthermore, she described the book as having included all professor’s case files and incorporated writings of legal scholars. “The book is meant for a wider audience and not only for professors and researchers but also for people who are interested in embellishing their criminal knowledge”, she added.

Book release and Panel Discussion

Mr. Surendra Malik,  Chief Editor, Supreme Court Cases began his speech by welcoming all of the panellists. He formally welcomed and thanked Justice M.N. Venkatachaliah for being present for the launch, “He has written a very enlightened and descript introduction to the book”, Mr Malik added.

Extract from the introduction

“Prof. Pande’s thoughts speak of philosophical foundations and shape of the system of criminal justice of the future. The uniqueness of Prof. Pande’s Writing lies in their ability to traverse from the primitive criminal law/criminal justice concepts to the contemporary forms … holding immense value equally for the law student, researcher, lawyer and the Judge.”

― Justice M.N. Venkatachaliah

“I have always maintained this belief and I keep telling people  that they gain certain insights & knowledge in their field as a professor or as a judge. So, whatever we can give, we must put it in a form of a book and it doesn’t matter who publishes it.” (sic), Mr Surendra Malik said. He humorously added that he had been telling Prof. BB Pande for years to write a book, but the maximum that he could get were a few articles out of him. “Prof BB Pande must be happy (on the release of the book), but I am even more excited,” he said. 

Mr Malik shared his feelings that teachers have a unique role to play in students’ life because they can say things dispassionately and a lot of what they say with clarity, will help both students and researchers. He further added that it will be helpful to the judges as well, as judges can’t speak in a way to teach someone, they simply deliver the judgment . “Teachers also need a good textbook. This is the view of Prof. Kelkar as well”he stated (Prof Kelkar has authored many books with EBC, including many bestsellers on Criminal Procedure Code).

Mr Malik explained how Prof BB Pande approached him with his book’s idea, and how he went on to complete writing 12 chapters of the book. Mr Malik was ecstatic about it, and he spoke about the  process of producing the book. He also praised the team who worked on this book, as without them the book would not have been completed. “This book has material which is not to be found anywhere else”, he said with confidence.

After the address by Mr Malik, the book was officially released by panellists. Thereupon, Prof BB Pande addressed the audience by saying “I have my perception that every teacher & equally a perceptive author, is expected to be essentially a good learner” He talked about three lessons he had learned in his six decades of experience, that is: “Criminal law, like any other branch of law, can be better understood and explained by its history or past rather than the contemporary text or its present form alone. Secondly, Criminal law discourse is full of contradictory or antimonial  narratives which impel the reader to search beyond the limited normative boundaries or the half baked rationalizations.” He further explained his learnings with the help of a few examples and theories. Thirdly, “Criminal law is to be taught and understood as a species of law that is bound by its own elemental scheme” he added. He explained this third lesson with a quote by Ellen Norris, which said, “Speaking about critical criminal law thinkers, they view the law as a social, historical and an ethical phenomenon but they also think about law as law.” These were the three lessons of respecting the history of law, he explained. 


“In learning Criminal Law, it must be noted that it is never fully resolved instead it is half resolved” – Prof. B.B Pande

In his introductory remarks, Professor Pande discussed the disparities between classroom instruction of criminal law and experienced reality. He talked about how his hands-on experience with criminal law at Beggars Court and Tihar Prison was beneficial. It helped me grasp that the law as it appears in court and legislation is simply one facet of legal reality. The other operational side, as seen by law enforcement agencies such as the police, prosecution, judges, and attorneys, as well as the genuine stakeholders; the accused and victims of crime remains unaddressed in classroom criminal law education. This is the wider component of criminal law that I attempted to cover in-depth in my book,” he explained. 

Prof. Sri Krishna Deva Rao, Vice-Chancellor, National Law University, Delhi, addressed the audience again, expressing his deep thanks for serving as the session’s moderator. As it was difficult to summarise the book in a few lines, he attempted to speak about certain aspects of the subject, “How criminal law evokes a passionate dialogue than any other branch of law, particularly because of its impact on life, liberties & freedoms of individuals caught in the web of the criminal justice system…There are people behind the dockets, not just case numbers.” he continued.

Mr Rao quoted Prof. B.B Pande and exclaimed a part from Kabir ke dohe, “tu kagaz ki likhi mein kehta meri aankhon ki dekhi

Prof Rao ended his address by asking  questions to Prof Issa Shiv Ji. After Prof. Issa Shivji was given the floor to discuss the work, he first complimented Prof Pande on the publication. He also addressed all of the panellists as his friends in the most modest manner. He discussed why he enjoyed reading this book because it is not just a succession of claims but has been presented in a discursive manner; the book brings up arguments among many schools of thought and beliefs, which piqued his attention.

Before addressing the questions, he recounted the history of both countries and discussed social inequality and differing laws. Prof Shivji discusses British colonialists’ experiences in India and how they used this knowledge to criminal law in Tanzania. He began by noting, “Individualisation is an essential process in which Law plays a significant part,” and he went on to remark, “Back then, a civil wrong like non-payment of tax became a criminal infraction by colonialists.”

Prof Rao then proceeded to Mr Siddharth Luthra, Senior Advocate with his questions. Mr Luthra, awed by the opportunity to share the platform with his mentors, speaks about his law school experience and how he planned to pursue a master’s degree in the field.The study of human nature is the practise of criminal law, he remarked. “We are continuously dealing with human nature, and the source and foundation of a lot of criminalisation must be thoroughly examined,” he continued. He described how his father informed him that practising criminal law is the study of human nature, which he still believes. He commended the work of Prof BB Pande, adding, “It is not for the faint of heart, and it demands a sense of knowing.” Later, he discussed the death sentence in India, stating that we, as Indians, criminalise all forms of behaviour and, if not, we enhance the penalty. In India, litigation might be pending for up to 20 years. “Is this justice?” he questioned. “In our nation, there are no punishment guidelines. So here is where pandemonium is born,” he said. 

During his presentation to the audience, he emphasised his dissatisfaction with all of the country’s legal schools, claiming that they exclusively produce products for the Supreme Court. We must urge kids to go out and learn about the criminal justice system in action. “We are merely creating and encouraging students to become Supreme Court attorneys while disregarding the most important aspect; comprehending the realities of criminal law and the Indian system is more top-heavy. Trial lawyers are highly regarded everywhere else. A lawyer’s first encounter with criminal law is with the police, learning evidentiary law at the trial level, he explained.

One must continue learning and be a constant reader.”- Mr Gopal Subramaniam

“I wish I had the power to name a galaxy, I wish I could sort of say that the Milky Way belongs to him, if anyone taught me what compassion is and what law about compassion is, I will never be able to repay that debt to Professor BB Pande,” Mr Gopal Subramaniam said to Prof Pande with great affection. “We require a new worldview and tools to comprehend the law.” Because there is no inherent audit, and we want new instruments capable of changing human awareness.” he explained. He concluded his speech by thanking the audience and expressing his gratitude for the opportunity to be present with three of his great professors and expressed that,De facto equality is not about identifying gender, it is far more, including mental equality”.

There are four kinds of Justices i.e. Justice according to the Law, Justice beside the law, Justice beyond the Law, and Justice beneath the Law.” Prof Upendra Baxi stated.

He also acknowledged Mr Surendra Malik’s and EBC’s  contribution to legal education. During the panel discussion, Professor Upendra Baxi criticised the Indian criminal justice system, saying, “What we teach in criminology in India is a deception, it is a scam on the public. In India, there is no criminal justice system; instead, we have criminal administration of justice… Except in India, no one gets sentenced to prison for punishment. As punishment, one is sentenced to prison (the important term being “as”). The punishment under the Indian Penal Code is just a prohibition on moving outside. Even in prison, all fundamental rights should be respected, including the freedom to travel outside,” (sic) he stated. 

Some books are to be tasted, some are to be swallowed, and some are to be chewed and digested. This is one of those books. – Justice Madan B Lokur 

In his statement to the panel, Justice Madan B. Lokur stated, “Compassion and sensitivity are crucial in criminal law. However, we are now ignoring (these) concerns. We have given up on compensation for people who have been wrongfully held or charged, and there is no police accountability. Should the cops be permitted to get away with this?” 

“Our criminal justice system prefers to keep individuals in jail. Bail is not being granted, and the accused is not being served with a charge sheet. The procedure itself has become a punishment, and the accused is generally the victim,” Justice Lokur observed. “Criminal law, as I view it, has undergone a huge transformation in terms of processes and judgments in the last few years.” In other situations, such as those involving the UAPA, the law has been flipped on its head. Is it due to judicial hesitation, or is it due to the judiciary’s incapacity to recognise what is going on the ground? The judiciary must break free from the ivory towers,” he concluded.

Finally, Prof Rao requested Prof Pande to make closing remarks regarding the book. “It was a significant day because we learned about criminal law from three separate perspectives: academics, the judiciary, and practising attorneys,” he remarked. He went on to say that the goal is to welcome and inspire fresh thinking in criminal law beyond its current, restricted viewpoint and that the spirit of the Rule of Law is that the law must win over power centres.  The event concluded with a vote of thanks by Prof BB Pande. 

“We have to learn about Criminal Law and not see it with the eyes of the State.” – Prof. B.B. Pande

The book is the result of Professor B.B Pande’s academic and practical understanding of criminal law and the criminal justice system in India and overseas. It is a thought-provoking book that investigates the moral and legal philosophy of criminal justice and focuses on the complex and current difficulties confronting India’s criminal justice system. The book is relevant not just for criminal law practitioners and academics, but also for anybody looking to extend their criminal justice knowledge in both substantive and procedural criminal law.

About the author 

Prof. B.B. Pande is a prominent professor at the National Law University in Delhi, as well as a Visiting Professor at the Dr. Ram Manohar Lohiya National Law University in Lucknow. Prof. Pande’s research spans the fields of penal sociology, criminal law and procedure, and criminology. He began teaching at Jabalpur University in 1962 and joined Delhi University as a Professor of Law in 1988.  He has worked as a Consultant (Research) for the National Human Rights Commission (NHRC) in New Delhi from December 2005 to December 2007. In 1988, 1992, 1995, and 1997, he was given a Fellowship by the Max Planck Institute of International and Foreign Penal Law in Freiburg, Germany. In 2003, he was awarded the Senior Social Scientist Award (1995) and the Kumarappa Reckless Award (2002) by the Indian Society of Criminology.

Since 2000, he has served on many Advisory Committees and as a UNDP Expert Consultant to the Kingdom of Nepal’s Rule of Law and Judiciary Reform programs. He was a Visiting Professor at the University of Dar es Salam in Tanzania (East Africa) from 1981 to 1983, the University of Cardiff in Wales (1998), and the University of Hong Kong (1998). Criminal Law, Criminal Procedure, Law of Evidence, Criminology, Juvenile Justice, Human Rights, and Jurisprudence are among his areas of expertise.

The event can be viewed here:

A copy of the book can be bought here:

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