Criminal Victimization and Justice Administration in India

Sagnik Sarkar[1]

The term “victimization” originates from Latin word “Victima” which means sacrificial creature. Any act of deviant behaviour in the society, done to others to cause someone to be treated unfairly, or to abuse, or hurt where the individual doesn’t only get affected physically or mentally, but also socially, and emotionally, is called victimization as defined by UNGA declaration[2]. So, the term “crime victimization” can be described as the victims of forcible rape, sexual assault, aggravated assault & survivors of homicide which not only impacts the individual’s day to day life, but also has impact on the victim’s family. Their only catharsis at the time of crisis is the expectation that accused will be punished as per law.

Juveniles below the age of 18 yrs. suffer from molestation, sexual or mental/ physical assault which has a cascading effect on them.

Women have been victimized by different form of crime be it rape, physical violence, or domestic abuse. This abuse has become such a common phenomenon that society doesn’t consider it as deviant behaviour anymore.

Democracy, development, and human rights are dependent on the degree of success that the government is able to achieve on the criminal justice front. The main aim of criminal justice system is the prevention & control of crime, and maintenance of public order. For that there are 5 statutes under which compensation can be claimed by plaintiff: –

  1. The Fatal Accident Act, 1855
  2. The Motor Vehicles Act, 1988
  3. The Criminal Procedure Code, 1973
  4. The Constitutional Remedies for Human Rights Violation
  5. The Probation of offenders Act, 1958.

Justice has been traditionally understood as only concerned with the conviction, prosecution of the criminal, but it also involves the process through which the decision has been reached by the court. As said by the Justice Albie Sachs, member of Supreme Court of South Africa, “Justice is not only in the end result; it is also in the process”.

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In provisions of Criminal Procedure Code, 1973:

  1. Section 250: – Magistrate to direct complainants to pay compensation to people accused by them without reasonable cause.
  2. Section 358: – empowers the court to order a person to pay compensation to another person for causing police officer to arrest such other person wrongfully
  3. Section 357: – enables the court imposing a sentence in criminal proceedings to grant compensation to the victim. The limited aspects of the sections are: –
  4. Will apply only when accused is convicted.
  5. Recovery of fine from accused when fine is part of sentence.
  6. If fine not part of sentence, then any amount may be ordered to be paid by way of compensation.

Moreover, compensation can be claimed under Section 5 of Probation of Offenders Act, 1958, under which it gives very limited discretionary power to court to order reasonable compensation in cases where accused is let off on probation, the same was decided in Hari Shankar v Sukhbir Singh[3], where accused was asked to pay the compensation.

Same was held in the case of Bodhisattwa Gautam case[4]where SC held that if the court has the jurisdiction to award compensation in case of rape at the final stage then court has the right to give the award of interim compensation.

In Constitution of India also, provisions in the interest of the victim are there, like in Article 14, which ensures the care & protection of the victim by & within the Cr.P.C which has previously tended to protect the offenders only. Article 21 ensures the human dignity of the victim & ensures better care and protection of victim[5].

The SC &ST (Prevention of Atrocities) Act 1989, section 4 provides that in case a public servant wilfully neglects to act upon the complaint of member of SC or ST community, it is a punishable offence under this section, carrying a fine of Rs. 20,000-25,000 depending upon the gravity of the offense.

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Moreover, Legal Service Authorities Act, 1987 was enacted under which there is provision as per section 12(1) & 13(1) where every victim of crime has a right to legal assistance at every stage of the case subject to the fulfilment of the means test and the ‘prima facie case’ criteria.

To overcome the fault in victimization, Malimath committee was formed which gave following recommendations to ensure justice to victims[6]: –

  1. Victim should be allowed to participate in cases involving serious crime and should be given adequate compensation
  2. If the victim is dead, legal representative shall have the right to implead himself as party in case of serious offense.
  3. The State should provide an advocate of victim’s choice to plead on his/her behalf and bear its cost.
  4. A Victim Compensation Fund can be created under the victim compensation law.

The following challenges and corresponding solution may be highlighted with regard to the above discussed issues:[7]

  1. No separate law for crime victim yet.
  2. Rampart corruption in Indian Criminal Justice System
  3. Empowerment of women & children to prevent victimization

After analysing all statues & committees report, it can be said that, victims have always been in disadvantageous position, more than the criminals, because in case of criminal there is definite law and procedure on how justice shall be reached but in case of victims, no such law is there. On one hand the economic resources of the victim get depleted and his/her survival is at stake and on the other hand, the criminal gets off scot-free. It’s high time that our legislature made laws to prevent victimization so as to change the focus from criminal justice to victim justice, but victim justice should be perceived as complementary and not contradictory to criminal justice.

[1] Student.

[2] UN General Assembly, Declaration of Basic Principles of Justice for Victims of Crime and Abuse of Power: resolution / adopted by the General Assembly, 29 November 1985, A/RES/40/34,

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[3] Hari Shankar v Sukhbir Singh, (1988) 4 S.C.C. 551.

[4] Bodhisattwa Gautam v. Subhra Chakraborty, A.I.R. 1996 S.C. 922.

[5] Hussainara Khatoon v. State of Bihar, A.I.R. 1979 S.C. 1360.

[6] K Deepalakshmi, The Malimath Committee’s recommendations on reforms in the criminal justice system in 20 points, The Hindu (January 17, 2018).

[7] Gazal Talwar, Role Of Victims In Indian Criminal Justice System And Legislative Measures Taken, Racoblegal (February 4, 2018, 04:42 PM), .

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