When I first started practicing, I could still discern the liberal influence of British law and of Indian decisions in the development of criminal procedure and laws. This ensured a fair amount of room for the rights of the accused to be navigated against the brunt authority of the state.
Then came the abolishment of jury trials. At the same time, the law was beginning to change. Calls were made to reform the law to ensure its applicability and the result of this was the abolishment of appeals to the Privy Council and the reform of the Criminal Procedure Code. I felt the law was being weighted against the rights of the accused. Defence counsel is not to have access to his client’s statements even though the prosecutor is entitled. I have repeatedly argued for the right to counsel while the accused is in detention. I have suggested the accused have the benefit of a magistrate as he pens his statement, especially when it involves a capital charge. These have been denied.
What I have seen of the evolution of the law is the rights of the accused being chipped away without any compelling justifications being proferred in return.