Reforms in Anti- Victim Laws

Upasana Khattri[1]

Faith is taking the first step even when you don’t see the whole staircase.[2]

The above quoted l line clearly express the faith a victim while approaching court should have in the justice system even though the complete outcome is not yet given via judgment. The unwanted and inhuman act causes such kind of deep impact on sufferer which lead to the loss of faith in humanity. But the person should not forget that the existence of judiciary will never deprive the rights of the victimized person. 

The term victim means a person who has suffered any loss or injury caused by a reason of the act or omission for which the accused person has been charged and the expression includes his or her guardian or legal heir.

An act which is criminal in nature not only cause trauma to the victim and family but also engulf the whole society. The crime is like a poison which affects the whole part of the body and sometimes gives fatal consequences. The impact of crime causes such kind of irreparable loss to the victim even though compensation and the acceptance by the society has been considered. The reason of such impact is the loss of trust toward the people.

India having a largest democracy in the world has followed the concept of rule of law for protection of human rights. The society without law is like citizens without right. Therefore, legislature enacts the law to regulate the conduct of the citizens for effective and efficient overall working of the country. Though criminal justice system of India is based on the British model but the legislative body has never failed to amend it from time to time in order to meet the changing demand of the society.

The Constitution is the supreme document of the land hence all the other laws derive its authority from it. The Constitutional framework regarding the criminal law is such that it protects the rights of victim and the accused. It provides free legal aid[3] and right to defend by pleader[4]. It has incorporated the provision of double jeopardy and prohibition against self-incrimination. The more elaborate provision regarding the criminal administration justice system is incorporated in the IPC, CrPC, and Evidence Act.

 The criminal law revolves around the legal maxim “Actus non facit reum, nisi mens sit reaan act does not make a person guilty, unless the mind is guilty but with certain exception.

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The Indian criminal framework is designed in such a way that it has incorporated the act or omission which is prohibited by law so that the person cannot claim that law was not known mentioned in the maxim Ignorantia Juris Non Excusat.It is the duty of every person to have the knowledge of the law of the land. In criminal justice system the burden of proof lies on the prosecution to proof the case beyond the reasonable doubt. Every person is innocent until proven guilty is the principle followed by the criminal law. The right of the victim starts at very initial stage when the crime is committed. The criminal justice system has shown special care while dealing with the offence related to women. They are always given special protection while arrest and search.

Our ideology and our laws says hundred guilty can be exempted but not a single innocent should be punished.[5] Therefore the code has equally given the right to the person to defend him before conviction order is made. The rights are:

  1. The right to know ground of arrest and produced before magistrate within 24 hours
  2. The right to inform the friend and consult legal practitioner.
  3. Right to be informed about bail.
  4. Right against handcuffing.

In order to provide justice to the victim and fair treatment with accused there are different kind of punishment according to the act or omission committed.

The criminal law in India is not victim oriented and the suffering of the victim, often immeasurable is entirely overlooked in misplaced sympathy for criminals. Though our modern criminal law is designed to punish to punish as well as reforms the criminal, yet it overlooks the bye product of crime.[6]

Justice Iyer has clearly stated the principle incorporated in criminal code and how the principles are more inclined towards criminals. It is the duty of the court to apply these principles with care and caution to avoid miscarriage of justice. It is the judiciary deciding the person who will receive the benefits which shows that the justice system completely depends upon how smoothly and effectively the judiciary will act. In the arena of criminal justice administration, the judiciary assumed an impressive part. They are the ray of hope for the citizens. It has never failed to act as the active interpreter of the law.

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Despite of many laws and active role of the judiciary there are still many loopholes in our system. They are:

  1. Clear provisions regarding trial are given; still there is unnecessary delay in the trial. The victim and the accused are victimized by the delaying habit. Sometimes half of the life accused went in the imprisonment despite of being innocent proved on the later stage.
  2. The corruption is a harmful disease which has infected all the level of government. This practice usually led to the suppression of facts and turns the whole case. This is the phase where money power and muscle power change the concept of rule of law.
  3. The discretionary power of the magistrate regarding the quantum of punishment has sometimes led to the gross violation.
  4. The rights of the victim have been continuously overlooked. The judiciary gives much attention on those principles which are in favour of the accused so that he must not be trapped unnecessarily.
  5. The position of a witness in criminal justice system is like a stray animal which have neither any right nor any law governing them. They are subject to threat and danger due to which witness become hostile during court examination.
  6. There are shortage judges and courts which are directly responsible of such pendency.

The whole criminal lawful framework works fundamentally and considerably and continuously the criminal justice system has changed its purview still lacks protecting the rights of the victims. It should be the duty of the court to inform the victim regarding the status of the case at regular interval. The society has the traditional mindset who usually blames the victim and don’t have compassion for them. The system should first work for rehabilitation and welfare of the victim. The court must ensure that the security of witness is also part of the fair and reasonable trial and their protection order should be made. Since the pendency of case is large in number, it is suggested that fast track court should be established. Thus if the judiciary will attempt to remove the above all lacunas, the common people will restore the faith in judiciary.

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[1] Student.

[2] Martin Luther King. Jr.

[3] M.H Hoskot v Union of India, AIR 1978 SC 1548.

[4] Code of Criminal Procedure 1973, Section 303

[5] Paridhar Agar, Conservative Social Ideology.

[6] Justice V.R. Krishna Iyer.