R.K. Raghavan, former CBI Director, delivers Roger Hood Memorial Lecture

Inside JGU

April 2024

R.K. Raghavan, former CBI Director, delivers Roger Hood Memorial Lecture

Dr. R.K. Raghavan, IPS, Former Director, Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI), delivered the Roger Hood Memorial Lecture organised by Jindal Global Law School on April 4 at JGU on the theme ‘Criminal Justice Systems in Liberal Democracies: An International Perspective’.

Delivering the lecture, Dr.  Raghavan remarked, “A capital sentence or a death penalty is not a deterrent. We live in a world of strife and hatred. Despite all the progress made in science and technology the field of criminal justice is not exempt from this world of prejudice and hatred. This is especially true about the death penalty.”

“Prof. Roger Hood was an extraordinary scholar whose devotion to the cause of abolishing the death penalty was phenomenal. Years after his demise, we still recall his sense of mission and zeal in promoting knowledge and information about an issue which is critical to our civilisation. Many nations across the globe have now abolished this irreversible punishment or have shown extreme reluctance to execute offenders without actually removing the penalty from the statute books. In India, there is a strong demand, though not vociferous enough, for the abolition of death penalty, but the powers that be do not agree with it and they accept the penalty in the probably misconceived belief that as long as death penalty remains on the statute books, the number of homicides and rapes which are the most violent offenses, will decline,” said Dr. Raghavan.

He further emphasised that capital punishment is meted out to violent criminals who cause grievous bodily harm to fellow beings. “There are about nearly 30,000 homicides in the US every year, and in India also the number is around the same. But the US is geographically much larger with less than a third of India’s population.”

He emphasised on the need for a robust law and order system in India. “The Indian police force should be much larger. We have recorded more than 100,000 police stations in India. The police station is a fundamental unit of law enforcement in our country and most of them are understaffed.” No law reform, according to Dr. Raghavan, can be complete without an effective justice delivery system. He pointed out, “Also galling is the slow pace of trials in India as justice is often delayed in our country. Many commissions have reviewed the speed of trials but the most inhuman aspect is that 75% offenders are held in prisons as undertrials, many on very trivial offenses.”

Based on a comparative analysis of the judicial and police systems in various other liberal democracies including the US, the UK and countries in Western Europe, Dr. Raghavan concluded, “No system is perfect as it suffers from subjectivity and biases. In that context, India has done reasonably well. Especially when a system depends on the character of individual judge, individual policeman, superintendent of prisons and other people? What we need to do is ensure a certain process of scrutiny (of people) before and after coming to office. The safeguard in liberal democracies is of free speech and free representation and the public should act as the watchdogs of all these agencies and not feel shy in unravelling any misconduct by a public officer.”

Prof. (Dr.) C. Raj Kumar, Founding Vice Chancellor, O.P. Jindal Global University, spoke on the significance of the event, “Today we celebrate the life and career of a remarkable scholar and intellectual Prof. (Dr.) Roger Hood, who was Professor Emeritus of Criminology at University of Oxford and Emeritus Fellow of All Souls College, Oxford. For three decades, from 1973 to 2003, he served as the Director of the Oxford Centre for Criminology and was a distinguished voice in the criminal justice system and policy. He was an extraordinary scholar when criminology and research was in its very early days. He spent a large part of his life in a vigorous and evidence-based study of the death penalty across the world, ultimately focusing towards its abolition.”