Identification and Upliftment of Victims of Criminal Justice Administration System

Akhil Ahuja[1]

“There is no greater tyranny than that which is perpetrated under the shield of the law and in the name of justice.” –Charles de Montesquieu

Justice is the basis of any civilized society. It is the first and foremost virtue of a social institution. Aristotle classified justice into Distributive and Corrective Justice. Distributive Justice referred to the division or distribution of rights, powers, duties or burdens to the members of the society on a basis of equal division among the equals. The Corrective Justice came into picture came into picture only when the equilibrium of rights and duties among the members of the society was upset by anyone. Whenever someone’s rights are encroached upon the corrective justice would serve to the victim. In present time we are facing a grim where the correctional justice has become the common interpretation of justice.

The basic sense of correctional justice is to do right by the victim. But who is the real victim in a criminal trial is not definite. Any person who suffers a wrongfully is the victim. In a criminal justice administration system, not only the aggrieved party or the complainant is the victim, the accused may eventually turn out to be the victim if found innocent after long trial.

“The murdered is not unaccountable for his own murder,

And the robbed is not blameless in being robbed,

Yea, the guilty is often times the victim of the injured

And still more often the condemned is the burden bearer for the guiltless and unblamed,

You cannot separate the just from the unjust and the good from the wicked;

For they stand together before the face of the sun even as the black thread and the white are woven together.” –Kahlil Gibran1

Therefore, the topic needs to be addressed keeping in mind both the eventualities being:

  1. Victimization of the person accused of the offence
  2. Victimization of the person aggrieved by the offence
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The criminal jurisprudence propagates a general principle of natural justice that a person is innocent until proven guilty. But in India a person is convicted even without a trial courtesy the draconian and oppressive concept of Media Trials. The Justice Administration System being nuke to that is a big failure on its part.

The accused even after reaching the court is often treated the opposite way to the general rule as guilty until proven innocent. More than 66 per cent of India’s prisoners are undertrials, which is over twice the global average of 32 per cent. Of these undertrials, more than 2,000 have been in prison for over five years.[2]

The Supreme Court of India in the case of Mohammad Giassudin v. State of Andhra Pradesh[3] observed that “Progressive criminologists across the worlds will agree that Gandhian diagnosis of offenders as patients and his conception of prison as hospitals, mental or moral is the key to the pathology of delinquency and therapeutic role of punishment. Our Prison should be correctional houses and not cruel iron arching the soul.”

However, our justice administration system happens to ignore this aspect and ends up using the prison as a detention centre.

Cesare Beccaria, considered as the Father of Criminal Justice stated that “Privation of Liberty being itself a punishment should not precede sentence.” He said that it is unjust and both ineffective as it affects the reformation of the criminal. Arrest is supposed to be an exception to prevent miscarriage of justice, and not a practise to cause the miscarriage of justice.

The victim of a crime has to go through the trauma of an offence being committed against him and also through the trauma caused by the secondary victimization due to lack of access to services of justice administration system. A person gets in touch with the Justice Administration System at first through the Police then through the Investigating Agency and then through the court. The Indian Justice Administration System works in such a manner that it causes a trauma to the person at every stage.

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The police being the first link in the chain to the access of justice has to ensure that all have equal access to justice. However, police fail to fulfil that duty very often. The delay in registration of FIR is a practise and it also becomes denial to register FIR in a number of cases where the victim is weak either economically or socially. The Supreme Court of India has time and again stated that delay in registration of FIR must be dealt with strict measure by the lower courts. However, no effect of the same reaches the ground reality.

The Investigating Agency is not given that proper access to technology and infrastructure required for an efficacious result to be sought. The Crime Bureau of Investigation despite being commendable at their job failed miserably in the case of Arushi Talwar. The CBI court went on to grant Death sentence to the parents/ accused and the High Court declared them innocent for faulty investigation.

The aggrieved has to live the tragedy over and over again for years, reliving the trauma and the pain of the incident for years during the pendency of the trial. Sometimes even the aggrieved dies due to natural causes waiting for justice to be served. The Justice as delivered in today’s scenario makes an Advocates say, “Lawyers are alive but the Law is dead, Judges are alive but the Justice is dead.”

In conclusion, I submit, the only possible solution to the criminal victimization present in our Justice Administration System is to take a paradigm shift from punitive justice system to a Reformative and Compensative Justice System. However, in the process of curing the lacerations caused to our Justice Administration System we need to keep in mind that Justice Delayed is Justice Denied but Justice Hurried is also Justice Buried.   

[1] Student.

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[2] On trial the criminal Justice System, Indian Express (December 5, 2019) .

[3] Mohammad Giassudin v. State of Andhra Pradesh, AIR 1977 S.C. 1926.