The Harsh Reality Of Crime Victims In India

by Ankitesh Ojha

The Judicial System right from the very beginning is aimed at discovering the truth and then to vindicate the truth. Two of the most striking things ensured by the legal system are reasonable trial and equity to both the Crime Victim and the accused. When an offence is committed, the State catches or arrests the accused, after this he is brought to trial. If found guilty, the offender is convicted and punished. Is this the completion of the whole process of criminal justice? No, after this the main task of Criminal Justice System is to compensate the victims and ensure them fair treatment, but, unfortunately, our Criminal Justice System has failed to deliver the same.

It is not sufficient that the criminal is caught and punished. According to the modern approach, the rights of Crime Victims should be addressed by providing them Restorative Justice. Restorative Justice is a developing reaction to the wrongdoings, and it regards the nobility and fairness of every individual, forms understanding, and advances social congruity. The system has always been liberal to criminals. The condition of prisons is improving, new laws made by the legislature have a lenient approach toward criminals and victims are discarded every time. Criminal Justice System is just focused on giving humane treatment to the accused, and no efforts are made by the system to improve the hapless condition of victims, the situation of Crime Victims is still the same, they are still the sufferers, they suffer right from the offence is committed to the delivery of justice. The status of a crime victim in the Criminal Justice System is very hapless. The victim is left to fend for himself with little or no support from the State machinery.

Now, as we move towards international level the focus is about the identification of victim and the harm caused to him and it is the liability of state to compensate the crime victim. What happens in India is not the same, the offender has to compensate the crime victim, and hence successful prosecution is necessary. Section 2(wa) of Criminal Procedure Code provides that “victim”[1] means a person who has suffered any loss or injury caused by reason of the act or omission for which the accused person has been charged and the expression “victim” includes his or her guardian or legal heir. Use of the sentence “for which the accused person has been charged” in this definition makes the intention of legislature very clear. Law Commission for the first time recommended a comprehensive provision for compensation to victims in one of its reports[2]. The assumption that by punishing the offender the victim receives ‘justice’ is of zero value today because successful investigations are continuously decreasing and the still smaller number of convictions in the Criminal Justice System[3]. So, it is Important for the justice system to ensure restorative justice and compensation to the victims to receive justice in its truest sense.

The victim is that component of crime which is inseparable. It is almost impossible to explain the phenomena of crime without incorporating the victims of the crime. It is believed by many jurists that victim is the most disregarded participant of Criminal Justice System. Victims are the principal actors in Criminal Justice System, despite being such an important part of this system it remained a forgotten entity. The status of victims has been reduced to report crimes and appear as a witness in court of law[4]. It was precisely observed by Justice Krishna Iyer in a landmark case Rattan Singh v. State of Punjab[5] that, “It is a weakness of our jurisprudence that victims of crime and the distress of the dependents of the victim do not attract the attention of law. In fact, the victim reparation is still the vanishing point of our criminal law. This is the deficiency in the system, which must be rectified by the legislation.”

The essence of Victimology lies in lessening the pain of the victims, it believes in restorative justice. Victimology must find fulfillment said the Court in a case[6], not through barbarity, but rather by necessary recoupment by the wrongdoer of the harm perpetrated not by giving more agony to the guilty party but rather by diminishing the loss of the melancholy. As the injured enters into the gate of Criminal Justice System, he is hit hard by questions, delays, court appearances, loss of earnings, waste of time and frustration. If the victim is women, her lot is even more painful. It is very common these days for a victim to be harassed and humiliated in the trial and investigative procedures. In the event that the victims come to see their treatment as uncalled for, twisting of reality or minimal worried with their own rights, feeling and intrigue or if the choices are made which are felt to be inadmissible, it might prompt Secondary Victimisation[7], where the victim who is already going through the consequences of crime committed on him faces unfair treatment by the justice system. It is possible that this Secondary Victimisation by the system may lead to disinterest and future non-cooperation by the victim. At the point when the victim picks not to collaborate with the Criminal Justice System, it will crumple.

The United Nations has made efforts to provide rights to victims to prevent them from the clutches of unfair justice system. The four major components of rights of victims declared by United Nations- Access to justice and fair treatment, Restitution, Compensation and assistance. However, payment of compensation to the Crime Victims is mainly focused by our justice system. The status of Crime Victims about access to justice and fair treatment may be properly appreciated concerning the four different stages of Criminal Justice System, which are- 1. Right to mobilise the Criminal Justice System in action by lodging FIR or complaint. 2. Right and status of a victim during investigation of a criminal case. 3. Right and status of a victim during trial. 4. Right and status after judgment in a criminal case.

In this article efforts have been made to understand the value of compensation granted to the Crime Victims .  “Compensation is anything given to make things equivalent, a thing given to make amends for loss, recompense, remuneration or pay”. Orissa high court in its judgment[8] very rightly described the object of compensation, “It is true that perfect compensation is hardly possible and money cannot renew a physique frame that has been battered and shattered, as state by Justice requires that it should be equal in value, although not alike in kind”. The prime objective of providing compensation is to place the injured or claimant as far as possible in the same financial position, as he was before accident. There are some provisions in law, where it is the duty of the offender to compensate the victims of crime, like Section 357 of the Criminal Procedure Code, 1973 and Section 5 of the Probation of Offenders Act, 1959 and some other statues.

The primary purpose of Criminal Justice System is to safeguard the rights of the individuals and the state against the intentional invasion of the wrongdoers who disturb the peace and harmony of the society by violating societal rules and regulations. State agencies have always worked to protect the rights of the criminals and victim is not given any relief in the form of compensation. However, the idea of compensation to victim or injured is linked with the legal system in two ways; firstly, it is the duty of the legal system to regulate the relationship between the victim and the wrongdoer and secondly, it has to regulate the relationship between the victim and judicial administration. It becomes imperative to understand the basic concept of victim. The Apex Court in Rattiram & Ors. V. State of M.P[9] has rightly emphasized on the protection of victims’ rights: “Criminal jurisprudence, with the passage of time, has laid emphasis on Victimology which fundamentally is a perception of a trial from the viewpoint of the criminal as well as the victim. Both are viewed in the social context. The view of the victim is given due regard and respect in certain countries. It is the duty of the court to see that the victims’ right is protected”.


Ankitesh Ojha is a second year student at HNLU.


endnotes

[1] Inserted by The Code of Criminal Procedure (Amendment) Act, 2008, Received the assent of the

President on 7th January 2009, Act Published in the Gazette Of India 9-1-2009, Part II Schedule 1

Extraordinarily P.1 (No.6)

[2]41st Report, Law Commission of India on Indian Penal Code,1860 (1969)

[3]Vibhute, K.I., Criminal Justice: A Human Rights Perspective of Criminal Justice in India, Eastern

Book Company, 362 (2004)

[4]Bajpai G.S., Victim in Criminal Justice Process: Perspectives on Police and Judiciary, 08 (1997).

[5]Rattan Singh v. State of Punjab, AIR 1979 (4) SCC 719.

[6]Maru Ram & Ors. v. Union of India and Ors AIR 1981(1) SCC 107.

[7]Gerd Ferdinand Kirchhof, “Victimology- History and Basic Concepts”, International Debates of Victimology, WSV Publishing, 51 (1994)

[8]Saraswate Parabhai v. Grid Corp. of Orissa AIR 2000 Ori 13

[9]Rattiram & Ors. V. State of M.PAIR 2012 SC 1485

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