Judiciary, Helping the Victim

Srishti Pandey[1]

Finding justice, helping the victim and ensuring his rights is very difficult in India. The journey of a person who commits a crime and becomes an offender, is not easy. The time an offence takes place there is an offender and a victim, offender is caught and will be punisher but with the offender the victim also has to suffer in the process, with or without bumps. When the drive to court is completed by the police, the work of judiciary starts. Not everyone know that Judicial Magistrates also play a role in police investigation and they have the power to make that role a major, this step of judiciary can compel police to work according to law and supress uninvited influence. Problems which I noted during my internship with Judges were, firstly there is lack of infrastructure and staff. In many district courts there is no proper place for judges to sit, chambers of bank clerks are better than that of an Additional Sessions Judge. Our country needs more judges as well as lower staff for its smooth functioning. With the judges, law practitioner also has to corporate to a better functioning.

System works and things go on without a try to improve thing. Leaving the one who has to obey, when we see the positon of the laws they are following, we can understand the problem. Many laws of our country are pre-independence, everything is updated and modernised then why not our laws. Situation in our country has come to a point where the watchdogs of the constitution has to take care of the current position in the absence of any special legislation to render justice to victims in India, the Supreme Court without has taken a proactive role and resorted to affirmative action to protect the rights of victims of crime and abuse of power. The court has adopted the concept of restorative justice and awarded compensation or restitution or enhanced the amount of compensation to victims, beginning from the 1980s.[2][3][4][5]

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To cope with the upcoming needs of the country court tried to fill the gaps in the law. For Rape Victims the Court issued guidelines for Victim Assistance in Bodhisattwa Gautam vs. Subhra Chakraborty[6] the Supreme Court held that if the court trying an offence of rape has jurisdiction to award compensation at the final stage, the Court also has the right to award interim compensation. The court, having satisfied the prima facie culpability of the accused, ordered him to pay a sum of Rs.1000 every month to the victim as interim compensation along with arrears of compensation from the date of the complaint. It is a landmark case in which the Supreme Court issued a set of guidelines to help indigenous rape victims who cannot afford legal, medical and psychological services, in accordance with the Principles of UN Declaration of Justice for Victims of Crime and Abuse of Power, 1985:

  1. The complainants of sexual assault cases should be provided with a victim’s Advocate who is well- acquainted with the CJS to explain to the victim the proceedings, and to assist her in the police station and in Court and to guide her as to how to avail of psychological counselling or medical assistance from other agencies;
  2. Legal assistance at the police station while she is being questioned;
  3.   The police should be under a duty to inform the victim of her right to representation before any questions are asked of her and the police report should state that the victim was so informed;
  4.  A list of Advocates willing to act in these cases should be kept at the police station for victims;
  5.  Advocate shall be appointed by the Court, in order to ensure that victims are questioned without undue delay;
  6.  In all rape trials, anonymity of the victims must be maintained;
  7.   It is necessary, having regard to the Directive Principles contained under Art. 38 (1) of the Constitution of India, to set up a Criminal Injuries Compensation Board. Rape victims frequently incur substantial financial loss.
  8.   Compensation for victims shall be awarded by the Court on conviction of the offender and by the Criminal Injuries Compensation Board whether or not a conviction has taken place. The Board will take into account pain, suffering and shock as well as loss of earnings due to pregnancy and the expenses of childbirth if this occurred as a result of the rape.
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Many a time the court has gone far to help the victim and stop the legislature from abusing its power, in a case the Supreme Court recognized the need for state compensation in cases of abuse of power by the State machinery. In the landmark case of Rudul Sah vs. State of Bihar[7], the Supreme Court ordered the Government of Bihar to pay to Rudul Sah a further sum of Rs.30,000 as compensation, which according to the court was of a “palliative nature”, in addition to a sum of Rs.5,000, in a case of illegal incarceration of the victim for long years. Similarly in Saheli, a Women’s Resources Centre through Mrs. Nalini Bhanot vs. Commissioner of Police, Delhi Police[8], the Court awarded a sum of Rs.75, 000 as state compensation to the victim’s mother, holding that the victim died due to beating by the police. In another landmark case of D. K. Basu vs. State of West Bengal[9], the Supreme Court held that state compensation is mandatory in cases of abuse of power and said that “To repair the wrong done and give judicial redress for legal injury is a compulsion of judicial conscience”.

Now is the time where the three pillars of the government have to come together and make changes not only in the working of the bodies but the law too. And make things better for smart future.

[1] Student.

[2] Sukhdev Singh v. State of Punjab, 1982 SCC (Cr) 467.

[3] Balraj v. State of U. P., 1994 SCC (Cr) 823.

[4] Giani Ram v. State of Haryana, AIR 1995 SC 2452.

[5] Baldev Singh v. State of Punjab, AIR 1996 SC 372.

[6] Ankush Shivaji Gaikwad v. State of Maharashtra, AIR 1996 SC 922.

[7] Rudul Sah v. State of Bihar AIR 1983 SC 1086.

[8] Mrs. Nalini Bhanot v. Commissioner of Police, Delhi Police AIR 1990 SC 513.

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[9] D. K. Basu v. State of West Bengal AIR 1997 SC 610.