Before Reading Criminal justice system of Pakistan we have to understand what is criminal justice system

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The criminal justice system

The criminal justice system is the set of laws and principles which are applied on convicted ones on their transgressions. It is one of the most important ingredients of any society in the world. It describes the offences, punishments, procedures and ways to punish those who violate laws of the society.

The criminal justice system in a country comprises of the legislature, the enforcement agencies, the courts and correctional services. Its basic objective is to provide protection to life and property of citizens and to ensure order in society.


The legal basis of the criminal justice system of Pakistan includes the Criminal Procedure Act of 1898 (CrPC) and Pakistan Penal Code 1860 (PPC) which lay out the foundations, procedures and functions of all components of the system starting from reporting of the case to police, its trial by courts, appeals and correction at jails.

The CrPC is the procedural law providing the mechanism to be followed in every investigation, inquiry and trial for every offence under the PPC or other substantive criminal law. It is divided into three stages: investigation, inquiry and trial.

1.     Investigation includes all the proceedings under the Code for the collection of evidence by a police officer or by any person (other than a Magistrate), who is authorized by a Magistrate in this behalf.4

2.     Inquiry consists of satisfaction of the facts a Magistrate either on receiving a police report or upon a complaint by any other person.5

3.     Trial refers to a judicial proceeding which ends in conviction or acquittal.

Role of Criminal Justice system 

It goes without saying that the CJS in Pakistan must function within the framework of the principles enunciated by the Constitution. Broadly speaking, these are as follows:

        The guarantee of equality before the law 

        Equal protection of the laws 

        Prohibition of discrimination imposed upon the State 

        Deprivation of life /personal liberty only in accordance with procedure established by law 

        Presumption of innocence of the accused 

        The requirement of proof beyond reasonable doubt 

        The right of the accused to remain silent 

        Arrest and detention in accordance with law and judicial guidelines 

        Protection against double jeopardy 

        Non-retrospective punishment



Phases and Pillars of criminal justice system 

It has three main phases

1.     investigation by police,

2.     trial by Courts, 

3.     and execution by jail authorities (Prison). 

Police, courts and prison these are three basic institutions of criminal justice system and It stands upon three pillars: investigation, prosecution and trial.



The entire criminal justice system in Pakistan is aimed at the judicial dispensation of criminal justice. It stands on three pillars:

Only by the appropriate and balanced working of these pillars and within the respective domain can the effective and smooth functioning of the system be possible.

Main components of criminal justice system 

As stated above, there are three main components of the criminal justice system are;

A.              Police 

B.              Prosecution

C.              Courts

Other components

D.              Prisons and Corrections




According to the Oxford Handbook on Criminology, the police is an organization, whereas policing is the function of preventing and detecting crime.

The first modern police force is commonly said to be the Metropolitan Police in London, established in 1829 by Sir Robert Peel. Based on the Peelian principles, it promoted the preventive role of police as a deterrent to urban crime and disorder. 

In this system, the investigation is undertaken by the police. It is believed that the police have a tendency to become psychologically committed to bringing home the guilt of their chosen suspect. 

Role, Functions and Duties of the Police in General. 

The role and functions of the police in general are:

        To uphold and enforce the law impartially, and to protect life, liberty, property, human rights, and dignity of the members of the public; 

        To promote and preserve public order; 

        To protect internal security, to prevent and control terrorist activities, breaches of communal harmony, militant activities and other situations affecting Internal Security; 

        To protect public properties including roads, railways, bridges, vital installations and establishments etc. against acts of vandalism, violence or any kind of attack; 

        To prevent crimes, and reduce the opportunities for the commission of crimes through their own preventive action and measures as well as by aiding and cooperating with other relevant agencies in implementing due measures for 2 prevention of crimes;

        To accurately register all complaints brought to them by a complainant or his representative, in person or received by post, e-mail or other means, and take prompt follow-up action thereon, after duly acknowledging the receipt of the complaint;

        To register and investigate all cognizable offences coming to their notice through such complaints or otherwise, duly supplying a copy of the First Information Report to the complainant, and where appropriate, to apprehend offenders, and extend requisite assistance in the prosecution of offenders; 

        To create and maintain a feeling of security in the community, and as far as possible prevent conflicts and promote amity;

        To aid individual, who are in danger of physical harm to their person or property, and to provide necessary help and afford relief to people in distress situations; 

        To facilitate orderly movement of people and vehicles, and to control and regulate traffic on roads and highways; 

To collect intelligence relating to matters affecting public peace, and all kind of crimes including social offences, communalism, extremism, terrorism and other matters

relating to national security, and disseminate the same to all concerned agencies, besides acting, as appropriate on it themselves. 


The function of the prosecution is to evaluate the evidence collected by the police, and to filter the quality and quantity of cases to be sent up for trial.

The prosecution is the agency which plays an intermediary role between the judiciary and the police. It is they who take the police’s case forward to the courts.

As per interpreted by courts, the job of prosecution is to;

-  thoroughly scrutinize challans in connection with the arrest of the offenders,

-  present the prosecution case in the Court,

-  contest the claims of defence and ensure the observance of the provisions of law, - guide the Investigation Officer to remove lacunas left, if any, during an investigation.

Role and responsibilities of prosecution: 

The Prosecutors shall be responsible for the conduct of prosecution on behalf of the Government. 

        The Prosecutor General or if so authorized by him, an Additional Prosecutor General shall distribute work to the Prosecutors in the Supreme Court, the High Court, the Federal Shariat Court or a Special Court established under any law for the time being in force. 

        A District Public Prosecutor shall distribute work to the Prosecutors with respect to the Courts of Session and Courts of Magistrates within a district. 

        A Police report under Section 173 of the Code including a report of cancellation of the first information report or a request for discharge of a suspect or an accused shall be submitted to a Court through the Prosecutor appointed under this Act.  The Prosecutor shall scrutinize the report or the request and may— 

(a)  return the same within three days to the officer incharge of police station or investigation officer, as the case may be, if he finds the same to be defective, for removal of such defects as may be identified by him; or 

(b)  if it is fit for submission, file it before the Court of competent jurisdiction.

        On receipt of an interim police report under Section 173 of the Code, the Prosecutor shall-- (a) examine the reasons assigned for the delay in the completion of investigation and if he considers the reasons compelling, request the Court for the postponement of trial and in case investigation is not completed within reasonable time, request the Court for commencement of trial on the basis of the evidence available on record.


The courts that deal with criminal matters are magistrate and sessions courts. Contrary to the constitutional courts that are established under the constitution and have a binding effect on the executive, the magistrate and sessions courts are products of the Code of Criminal Procedure 1898, and essentially decide facts.

The criminal court is the core of the criminal justice system. It preserves the “due process of law" throughout the arrest-to-release procedures in criminal justice. The job of the Court is to;

-  initiate proceedings after a charge have been drawn up,

-  give full information to the accused as to the offence he is charged with,

-  convict the accused if his guilt is proven and acquit him if any reasonable doubt is created.


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