Criminal Victimization: Jurisprudential Perspective With Reference to India

Mihir Inamdar[1]

The Indian Criminal Justice system is based on the British model. The judiciary is independent for conducting fair trial and justice to both, the accused and the victim of crime. Therefore, it requires balancing of interest of accused and the victim. The accused when are prosecuted and found guilty are sentenced to jail but this does not complete the process of criminal justice because the crime victim still suffers. Crime cause financial, physical and psychological loss to the crime victim. Traditionally, it may have been sufficient that the criminal is caught and punished. But, the modern approach is to also focus on the victims of crime. The victim has no right under criminal justice system. A victim is only a witness for the prosecution. The recent shift in concern for the rights of accused to the rights of victim balance the interest of both the accused and victim.

Though no separate law for victims of crime has yet been enacted in India, the silver lining is that victim justice has been rendered through affirmative action and orders of the apex court.[2]In fact, criminal proceedings routinely re-traumatize victims of serious crime through a prosecutorial process that fails to provide promised closure or emotional repair to aggrieved persons.[3] Intangible cost that is, indirect losses suffered by crime victims such as pain and suffering, societal neglect, deceased quality of life and psychological distress is one of the important aspect that is many a times left unanswered. The victims in crime such as rape, sexual assault, face disfigured by throwing of acid and indecent exposure suffers avoidance of people and social withdrawal. Thus, there is the need of maintaining the social cost of such crime victims. The criminal law must work on the restitution of crime victims to their original position. We have been giving so much of time an importance to the accused rights but now its time to be concerned for crime victim’s right. Many countries have provided legal as well as financial assistance and are making efforts in helping them to recover them.

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The Indian Constitution has several provisions which highlights the principle of victim compensation. Art. 41, which is directly related to victims, declares that state shall enact effective provisions for “securing public assistance in cases of disablement and in other cases of undeserved want”. Under Art. 51-A it a fundamental duty of citizens of India “to protect and improve the natural environment … and to have compassion for living creatures” and “to develop humanism”. If liberally interpreted and properly expanded we can find the constitutional beginning of victimology under Art. 21 in Indian constitution. We can easily establish the fact that “no person shall be deprived from his life and liberty without the procedure established by law” means that if anyone is deprived of his life and liberty without the procedure established by law it is responsibility of state to compensate victims properly.

Right of restitution to Victims of crime is still absent in statues in India. In several cases, courts refused the prayers of Victims for loss of life, apart from that courts are under the Constitution have a duty to examine the loss of victims and their pleas to redress the problem they suffered during violent communal clashes. However the very pessimistic approach was seen by Indian courts where they awarded compensation only when or directed the state to compensate victims when the state was at some fault.

The Criminal Justice System in India is not victim oriented, but punishment oriented based on retributive, deterrent and reformative theory. The interest of the victims gets suppressed under these laws. The concept of compensation, restoration and reformation are not common here. The victimization theory is still in its abstract form and requires much attention. Section 357-358 of Criminal Procedure Code, 1973 states to provide the compensation to the victim.[4]Usually, the compensation awarded is quite inadequate to meet the needs of the victim.

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The prevailing Criminal Justice System requires a shift towards the Restorative Justice without departing from the safeguards that have been given to the accused persons in our constitutional and criminal jurisprudence.[5] Restorative justice keeps both the victim and the offender at par. The offenders are given respect and given opportunity to repair the harm caused by the crime and reintegrate in the society in the ways that lead to lawful behaviour. There is a need to take a fresh look and understand the situation and position of victims of crimes. 

[1] Student.

[2] Chockalingam, K., Measures for Crime Victims in the Indian Criminal Justice System, UNAFEI (December 5, 2019),

[3] Allegra M. McLeod, Confronting Criminal Law’s Violence: The Possibilities of Unfinished Alternatives,

8 Unbound109, 2012-2013.

[4] Criminal procedure code, 1973, S.357- 358.

[5] 10th D.P. Kohli Memorial Lecture on ‘Criminal justice system – Growing Responsibility in Light of Contemporary Challenges’ by Hon’ble Sh. K.G. Balakrishnan, Chief Justice of India 12, (New Delhi – April 2, 2009)