Justice Administration Victim Oriented or Accused Oriented?

Krishna Bhattacharya[1]

“She was an adroit fourteen-year-old tennis player who idolized Steffi Graf and hoped to turn a pro like him. He was a senior police official and president of the State lawn tennis club. He lured her to his office with a promise of special coaching that could make her tennis dream come true, then groped her. This encounter set in motion a saga that has taken almost twenty years to unfold. The family of the girl, Ruchika Girotra, threatened to press charges. Shambu Pratab Singh Rathore, a senior officer in Haryana Sate police, then waged a campaign of harassment and intimidation against Ruchika so severe that she committed suicide. Her brother, Ashu, was falsely accused of stealing cars and was beaten and tortured. All the while Mr. Rathore, a flamboyant, mustachioed presence with deep ties to many of the state’s top politicians, rose through ranks, retiring in 2002 as a state police chief. Ruchika’s ordeal is hardly unique because girls are molested all the time.” Social stigma of getting molested or raped is mainly because the worth of a woman is measured by her sexual purity. The incident happened around 1990 and the judgment came in 2010.[2]

Many may think that scenario has changed a lot since 1990 and especially after the amendment in 2008 in Crpc; which added the term victim and after 2013 amendment.

Yes, there are a lot of positive judgments given by our justice system but has it really made a change?

Recently on 7/02/18, I was travelling back home by bus. I and my friend were standing near the driver’s seat. We got stuck in a traffic. The conductor kept calling the names of the places the bus will go and pronounced a name wrongly to which the driver commented that people who are recruited by giving bribe are not trained. The conductor laughed at this. The driver asked whether he had at least given the interview, to which he replied that after getting 7 lakhs as bribe no one cares for an interview. He then narrated that he knows a police surgeon. He jokingly once asked the surgeon that how did he qualify, as his height is shorter than the conductor? The surgeon replied that height doesn’t matter when money speaks, i.e,22 lakhs. The conductor made a comment that your father must be rich to which the surgeon replied father in law is rich. Everybody started laughing at this. The bus driver said that some police are good but almost everybody who was taking part in this conversation agreed that police means monstrous. They said that if police were good then country would have been better.

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This incident is not something very unique. It is an everyday affair. People hear these conversations frequently. But what struck me was this, that no matter what the law says but general public do not trust the criminal justice administration. If people do not trust, then how will the victim get justice?

A victim has first interaction with the police. If police officers are corrupt, then how will there be justice?

It is important to know who is called a ‘victim’.

The Latin word ‘ victim’ signifies sacrificial creature, yet the term casually has developed to incorporate an assortment of targets, including oneself, another individual, a family, a business, a state or nature.[3]

There are various theories of victimization namely:

  • Primary victimization
  • Secondary victimization
  • Re- victimization
  • Self-victimization

We shall discuss secondary victimization. This victimization is generally done by the society or by the justice administration system. The victim first comes to police for help.

The Police Act of 1861 which is still prevalent in our law, there is no such provision of accountability of the Police unlike in the U.K, in which the Independent Police Complaints Commission investigates and supervises public complaints against the police and can take over the supervision or investigation of any complaint case.[4]

While police training deserves to be put under the lens, the paucity of sufficient cops puts the organization and its personnel under pressure and stress; leaves virtually no time for the organization to send them for periodical refreshers for updating their skill and knowledge. Political misuse and consequent politicization of the police by political parties has also caused low morale of the personnel and institutional degeneration.

After the crime is reported the second part comes the investigation in which old methods are used and it gives the criminal a way to escape.

The technique of crime is changing every day. Criminals are using more refined methods as the technology is getting better. In this scenario the forensic expert’s evidence is only of an opinion. In June 2007 The National Draft Policy on Criminal Justice Reforms recognized an important aspect and rightly suggested that Indian Evidence Act needs to be amended to make scientific evidence admissible as ‘substantive evidence’ rather than ‘opinion evidence’ and establish its probative value, depending on the sophistication of the concerned scientific discipline.[5]

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It is often seen that the society changes first and after long the legislation changes. In that case it becomes the duty of the Judiciary to give justice to people who are getting victimized every day. For example, marital rape, behind the veils of marriage there is suffering every day, Bisexuals and transgender are getting victimized every minute. Many people do not report these cases but few who do, the courts should be bold enough to give them the required justice they deserve.

Although the Apex court has played a very innovative role in their decisive judgment to help the victim of crime in its some of the famous judgments but the Indian Criminal Justice System still seems not to be victim oriented but accused oriented.

The quality of justice determines the quality of society governance. Hence justice is an important aspect which should be changed from time to time to meet the requirements of the society. 

[1] Student.

[2] District Court (December 5, 2019), http://chddistrictcourts.gov.in/WriteReadData/judgements/2000000520100290425052010.pdf

[3]Sewa Bishnoi, Criminal Victimization & Justice Administration in India, 2 Wisdom Crux(December 5, 2019),Wisdomcrux.lawtimesjournal.in/index.php/2017/04/18/criminal-victimization-justice-administration-india/.

[4] Maya Daruwala, G.P Joshi, and Mandeep Tiwana,Police Act,1861: Why We Need to Replace it?Commonwealth Human Rights Initiative (December 5, 2019), http://www.humanrightsinitiative.org/programs/aj/police/papers/advocacy_paper_police_act_1861.pdf.

[5]Reports of the committee on Draft National Policy on Criminal Justice, July 2007,Ministry of Home Affairs, Government of India.

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