Criminal Victimization and Justice Administration in India

Dishant Patel[1]

Realizing the gravity of the problem, the United Nations general assembly (UNGA) in 1985 adopted a ‘declaration of the principle of justice for the victims of crime and abuse of power’.[2] The declaration envisages the basic norms to be adhered to for the recognition of victims’ right to information and treatment, consideration of their views, restitution, compensation and the provision of victim’s service.[3]

The purpose of criminal justice is to protect the rights of the individual, society and the state from the criminals by punishing the accused for violating the law. To ensure that the innocent persons may not be victimized, the accused has been granted certain basic rights and privileges to defend him and prove his innocence [4] before he is condemned. A victim of crime in ordinary language means a person against whom a crime has been committed.[5]According to the declaration:

“Victim of crime includes, any person who, individually or collectively has suffered harm, including physical or mental injury, emotional suffering, economic loss or substantial impairment of his or her fundamental rights, through acts or omission that are in violation of criminal laws operating within the member states including those laws prescribing criminal abuse of power.”

But unfortunately, the law and establishment hardly take any note of the by-product of crime -its victim. The poor victims of crime are entirely overlooked in misplaced sympathy for the criminal. The guilty man is lodges, fed, clothed, warmed, lighted, and entertained in a model cell at the expense of the state, from the taxes that the victim pays to the treasury. In fact, it is shortcoming of our criminal jurisprudence that the victims of crime do not attract due attention. As stated by justice Krishna iyer in rattan Singh v. state of Punjab:

“It is a weakness of our jurisprudence that victims of crime and the distress of the dependent of the victim don not attract the attention of law. In fact, the victim reparation is still the vanishing point of our criminal law. This is the loophole in the system that must be rectified by the legislature”.[6]. The declaration suggested adopting the following measures to help and support the victims financially and other wise to repose confidence in them. They are:

  1. Easy access to justice and fair treatment
  2. Restitution
  3. Assistance, and
  4. Rights – based victim movement.
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Compensation to Victims of Crime

Despite any specific legislation to render justice to victims in India, justice requires that a person who has on account of wrong act of the accused suffered must be compensated for loss or injury. Basically the accused is responsible for the reparation of any harm caused by the victim. However, it might be that the accused being too poor, is unable to make any payment or otherwise unable to compensate the victim.

Compensation and Rehabilitation to Victims of Rape

Of course, in Bodhisattva Gautam,[7] the Supreme Court on its own awarded interim compensation to the respondent – a rape victim while exercising its inherent power. The accused, a lectures, had married his student, by putting vermilion on her forehead before god and accepted her as a wife and impregnated her twice resulting in abortion on both the occasions, and later refused to recognize her as a wife. Relying on apex courts earlier judgement in Delhi domestic working women’s forum v. union of India, Justice Kuldeep Singh and S. Sager Ahamed observed that:

“If the court trying an offence of rape had jurisdiction to award the compensation at the final stage, there is no reason to deny to the court the right to award interim compensation. The jurisdiction to pay interim compensation shall be treated to be part of the overall jurisdiction of the court trying the offence of rape which is an offence against the basic human rights and also the fundamental rights of personal life and liberty. Unfortunately, a woman in our country, belongs to a class or group of society who are in a disadvantaged position on account of several social barriers and impediments and have therefore, been the victim of tyranny at the hands of men with whom they, fortunately under constitution enjoy equal rights”[8]

A careful perusal of the provisions discussed above would reveal that there is an urgent need to tackle the problems of victims of crime on many folds. Time has come when victims play a major role in criminal justice system. Victim should be protected and state should compensate for any basic denial for the victims.

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[1] Student.

[2] Lucia Zender, Victims 1207-1240 1208, mike mauroe et al (Edn.) The Oxford Handbook Of Criminology: (Oxford: Clarendon press,1994).

[3] General Assembly Resolution 40/34, (1985) 39 YUN 743

[4] Some of the rights of an accused that have been recognized and guaranteed by the constitution are; right of equality and equal protection of laws; right against ex-post facto operation of law; protection against double jeopardy ; protection against self-incrimination ; right to have freedom from unwanted arrest and maters incidental thereto; right to legal defence; right to have public hearing and speedy trail; right relating to pre-trail detention and matters incidental thereto, and right to approach higher judicial authority by way of filing appeal, etc. See Annexure 1 for rights of the accused.

[5] Penal code of California, (USA) 1873, section 679.01(b) Gould’s penal code handbook of California 256, (2002)

[6] Rattan Singh v. state of Punjab, (1979) 4 SCC 719.

[7] Bodhisattva Gautam v. Subhra Chakraborty, AIR 1996 SC 922.

[8] Delhi domestic working women’s forum v. Union of India, (1995) 1 SCC 14.