Redefining Justice in India: Upneet Lalli’s Advocacy for Restorative Practices

In a thought-provoking presentation, Dr. Upneet Lalli, an accomplished individual with a background in psychology, law, and human rights advocacy, shed light on the pressing need to reimagine the criminal justice system in India. Serving as the Deputy Director at the Institute of Correctional Administration in Chandigarh, Lalli’s insights into the world of prisons, custodial justice, and gender justice issues are profound. As a member of the Global Advisory Council of Restorative Justice International, her commitment to reforming India’s criminal justice system is unmistakable.

Lalli’s presentation titled “Rethinking Justice the Restorative Way in India” began by highlighting the inherent limitations of the conventional criminal justice system. She expressed concern over how several jurisdictions worldwide are reevaluating the relationships between offenders, victims, and the State due to these shortcomings. This reevaluation has given rise to a burgeoning interest in restorative justice.

Drawing from her vast experience and expertise, Lalli posited that the state’s predominant focus on retribution against the offender often exacerbates the cycle of violence. Instead of serving justice, this approach alienates victims and fails to address the root causes of criminal behaviors. Lalli argued fervently for a pivot towards a justice system in India that is not only transparent and fair but is also centered around the needs and rights of the victims.

A striking revelation from Lalli’s talk was the near-absence of restorative justice practices within the current Indian criminal justice framework. While the principles of restorative justice emphasize repairing harm, fostering dialogue, and rebuilding trust, such notions are scarcely integrated into India’s legal and correctional processes.

Dr. Lalli delved into the numerous opportunities to introduce restorative justice at various junctures within the criminal justice system. She provided insights on how these principles could be harmoniously integrated within the existing legal structure, without necessitating massive overhauls. Furthermore, Lalli also proffered suggestions for legal amendments that would better facilitate the implementation of restorative practices.

One of the most intriguing segments of Lalli’s presentation was her exploration of the role of restorative justice within prison settings. She articulated that prisons, which are conventionally seen as spaces of punishment, can be transformed into environments that encourage reconciliation, responsibility, and rehabilitation. By introducing restorative practices within prisons, there is potential not only to reduce recidivism but also to foster a culture of understanding and empathy.

In her concluding remarks, Dr. Upneet Lalli emphasized the critical role of policymakers, legal professionals, and society at large in championing the cause of restorative justice. By moving away from a purely punitive approach and embracing a system that seeks restoration, India can pave the way for a more humane and effective justice system.

Lalli’s presentation was a clarion call to action, urging stakeholders to recognize the myriad benefits of restorative justice. Her passion, coupled with her wealth of knowledge, left a lasting impression on attendees, igniting discussions on the future of justice in India.