Justice for All: A Pipe Dream or a Reality?

Akanksha Yadav[1]

Criminal Victimization is a wide terminology and it contains within itself many facets of reality. Not talking about a specific category brings into horizon divergent victims of distinct crimes. When we talk about victim, a clear picture of helplessness and tragedy comes to our mind. While we cannot begin to imagine their trauma, we can make sure that they do not suffer more than they already have.

A report[2] compared the crime rates of 1953 and 2006. The report noted that murder[3] has increased by 7.39% (from 9,803, a rate of 2.61 in 1953 to 32,481, a rate of 2.81/100,000 in 2006) while kidnapping[4] increased by 47.80%. The aforesaid statistics only lay concretely what we as common citizens already know that there has been a continuous increase in crime through the years. Although society is becoming more progressive but somehow the very mentality that gives rise to these appalling crimes is being stimulated. This galvanization in crime rate is due to many different components.

It cannot be said for sure that what promotes this belief but somehow our society and culture have been putting equal blame on the victim as they are on the culprit if not more. This belief is a mix of many ideological and social mind sets that are hell bent on scrutinizing the victim for the crime they endured. The victim, who has already been through tough time, is dragged and forced into the public to answer the baseless and immoral suspicions raised by the ‘morally correct’ society and the few willing to help take shelter in their homes in fear of social stigma.

While these victims are scarred with emotional and psychological trauma, the least that the free and democratic citizens of this nation can do is ensure them justice with as less delay as possible by making the justice administration mechanism effective.

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When Laxmi[5], minor of age 16, was attacked with acid in New Delhi in 2006, she was disfigured and as any citizen she knocked the doors of the Judiciary of India, seeking justice against those who wronged her. Seven years later justice did come but the question also pondered the mind “Was it really the true form of justice?”

Access to justice is a fundamental right guaranteed to all the citizens by the Constitution of India. Clarifying all the doubts, the Constitution Bench of the Supreme Court has held that access to Justice is a Fundamental Right guaranteed to citizens by Article 14 and Article 21 of the Constitution of India. While the law of the land itself gives access to all, this access to justice often ceases to work in the real sense of the world when it is delayed.

The heavy backlog of cases and delays in the Indian judicial system have become a common knowledge in the country with everything from government callousness to over-litigiousness to judicial activism being blamed for the 35 million cases pending in the courts at all levels.

A recent survey of litigants conducted by Daksh, a civil society organization that undertakes research and activities to promote accountability and better governance in India, showed that more than 60% of the respondents believed that the delay in their own cases was due to the judge not passing orders quickly enough. While the Code of Civil Procedure, 1908, applicable to civil courts, states that judgments should be delivered within 30 days of arguments being closed, no such time restriction is found in the context of Section 353 of the Code of Criminal Procedure, 1974, which prescribes the manner in which judgment is to be delivered.

It is very difficult to continue the fight for justice when the faced with long dates in the Court of Law. This delay not only crushes the mindset of the victim and the loved ones but also gives a wide scope to tamper with the evidence of the case. Many witnesses are often threatened and coerced into changing their statements so as to manipulate the actual ordeal and hide their sins.

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Not only the judicial system but the police procedure is also very crucial in the fight for justice. Before reaching the Magistrate in the Court of Law, the case is dealt by the police officials only. The whole investigation of the truth is a duty that they have been bound to do. Any carelessness or callousness in investigation can lead to gross violation of justice. Victims of gruesome crimes such as rape should not be made to feel as if they are the culprits. Proper medical and legal guidance should be provided to them. Apart from that, fraudulent admissions of guilt due to coercion hinder the whole process of justice. In the Aarushi Talwar case[6], it is very much clear that if the police investigation had been done thoroughly then the real culprits would have been served the sentence a long while back.

If the judicial system and the police procedure is fluid and are accompanied with fair compensation and treatment for the victim of these gruesome crimes, only then can we hope that the Indian Justice Administration System would be fulfilling its duty at the very best of its ability. This would not only ease the pain of the victim but would act as a strong deterrent for all those who think that they can get away with defying the laws of the country with meagre punishment and that too years later. The whole concept of Criminal Victimization is so wholly intertwined with the administration of the justice system that both have almost overlapping spheres. The remedy for one lies in the other. It is very crucial now that the dawn of this new India makes sure that the victims of crimes are not left behind and each person progresses.

Works needs to be done on the grammar and sentence construction – intro should include what the paper is trying to say.

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[1] Student

[2] National Crime Records Bureau.

[3] Indian Penal Code, Section 300.

.[4] Indian Penal Code, Section 362.

[5] Laxmi v. Union of India, (2014) 4 SCC 427.

[6] Dr. Rajesh Talwar v. State of U.P. And Anr, Criminal Appeal No. – 293 of 2014.