Criminal Victimisation and Justice Administration in India

Aditya Agrawal[1]

The rights of victims should be recognised by law. Restitution for loss of life, limb, and property should be provided for in the system.   –N.R. Madhava Menon.

In traditional societies, the community usually takes the responsibility of caring for the victim and for emotional support and protection with the evolving societies and their complexities, the state assumed the responsibility for Administration of Justice. At this phase all the crimes are assumed to be against community. An inordinate amount of importance was given to the accused for providing him with safeguards, a chance to prove innocence and to avoid State Sanction such that a blind eye was turned upon the plight of the victim.

Since the 1940s, through Benjamin Mendelsohn[2] and Hans von Hentig[3] the plight of the victim is getting attended to increasingly in the society as general and particularly in the criminal Justice system. Philosophers like Wolfgang[4] even stated victims as responsible to an extent by Victim Precipitation Theory.

Everyone is affected by crime. The victims suffer, then his/her family, friends and close relatives. Even the people who are not directly affected get affected in the way of fear or tension regarding security, and increased rates of insurance etc. So, ultimately a crime against a person is the crime against society. Generally it is said that a victim suffers victimisation in two stages[5]

  1. Primary Victimisation
  2. Secondary Victimisation

Primary Victimization is the initial interaction between the criminal and Victim. It is the moment of interaction and the spot of actual Commission of Crime. This will have immediate consequences and will affect the victim’s overall perception of the world. Some examples of primary victimisation are crimes like rape, robbery and violent attacks. Secondary victimisation occurs when the victim or his family speaks about the crime or tries to fight back or try to book the criminal under the law. This mainly occurs by the way of disbelieving the account of the victim, blaming the victim itself for the crime and questioning her time and again about the incident. This occurs more in the cases of Rape as the girl is blamed for wearing revealing clothes or asking why was she out for such late or why she had friendship with boys. She is often disbelieved and accused of fabricating the whole instance. This is sometimes more agonising then the crime itself as the victim has to go through the trauma again as recollecting the events that unfolded.

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According to a report of National Mental Health Report[6] following are the characteristics of crime that extends victimisation.

  1. A history of victimisation increases the traumatisation at every subsequent crime.
  2. A history of mental health disorder further increases the trauma; mental health conditions may include post trauma stress disorder or depression.
  3. A higher degree of threat to life and property increases the difficulty in coping.

Research has also indicated two factors which may increase the chances of victim developing mental disorders:[7]

  1. The lack of Social Support.
  2. The exposure to the Justice Delivery System.

Victims get insensitive welcome by the authorities. Police, Prosecutors and court officers are often accused of mistreating the poor victims and not doing their work properly. This phenomenon has been increasingly termed as “second injury”[8] It has been increasingly seen that report is not filed by the police to show that the city is crime free or the crime rate is very less or unwillingness to have the hassles of investigating[9].

The principles of the criminal justice system that the prosecutor has to prove the case beyond reasonable doubt is one such principle which overlooks the ground realities. The situations of the case and its peculiar circumstances often lead to miscarriage of justice and make the whole Justice system a suspect.[10] Ultimately the whole society suffers and the criminals get free.

The provisions made for the victim like Section 357 of the Code of Criminal Procedure are seldom invoked. It is perhaps due of the ignorance of the court.[11] The court further recommended that the courts must exercise the power to award compensation liberally so as to meet the ends of Justice.[12]

Justice Delayed is Justice denied[13], is a saying which is the main cause of victim’s extended pain. Cases are dragged for years in the courts and in the meantime witness are threatened, evidences tampered and the key players are bribed. There are many cases in which judgement is delivered after long time- Upahar cinema fire case[14], Bhopal Gas tragedy case[15], Anti-Sikh Riot case[16] and many more.

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The victim of sexual offences or those who are minor or insane require better psychological assistance but the present infrastructure if the country fails to do so. Further the rehabilitation centres are not worth living and according to some reports they have become the den of exploitation of the inmates.[17]In one another shocking incident, Inmates of rehabilitation centre were sexually exploited[18].

The victim’s movement has to go a long way if it has to bring changes in the plight of the victim. The focus must be on making the victim an integral part of the criminal justice system from the present situation of a “forgotten entity”. Organisation and Agencies must be established to monitor the progress in this field and those organisations must advocates for the cause of victims of crime and abuse of power in India. No justice system can ignore the pain and plight of the victims of the increasing number of crimes.  The plights of victims are varied and numerous and hence it requires greater attention by the criminal justice administration. There is growing need and thus the system must be made more sensitive to the plight of the victims.

[1] Student.

[2] Referred to as Father of Victimology.

[3] Hans Von Henting, The criminal and his victim, (Yale university Press, New Haven,1948).

[4] Marvin F. Wolfgang, Victim Precipitated Criminal Homicide, 48 Journal of Criminal law and Criminology (1957)

[5] Harvey Wallace and & Cliff Roberson, Victimology: legal, psychological and social perspectives, 67 (3rd ed., Pearson Publication, 2011).

[6] National Institute of Mental Health Report, 2006.

[7] U.S. Department of Justice Report, 2006

[8] United Nations office for Drug Control and Crime Prevention, Handbook on Justice for Victim.

[9] Danish, why a policeman doesn’t file an fir, Firstpost, (Feb.12, 2018, 03:02 A.M.)

[10] State of M.P. v. Shyam Sundar Trivedi, (1995) 4 S.C.C. 262.

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[11] Hari Singh v. Sukhbir Singh, (1998) 4 S.C.C. 551.

[12] State of Gujarat v. High Court of Gujarat, (1998) 7 S.C.C. 392.

[13] Sir William Ebart Gladstone (1809-1898), Former British Prime Minister.

[14] Association of the victims of the Upahar tragedy v. Sushil Ansal, AIR 2012 SC 100.

[15] Union Carbide Corporation v. Union of India Etc, 1989 SCC (2) 540

[16] Sajjan Kumar v. Central Bureau of Investigation, 1989 SCC (2) 540.

[17] Madhavi Rajashyakshal, a living hell, Can’t be called Rehabilitation Centre, Times of India, (Feb.12, 2018, 03:00 A.M.),

[18] Zee news Bureau, Mentally Ill Women Sexually Abused, Tortured in West Bengal, Zee News, (Feb. 12, 2018, 02:58 A.M.)