Entitlement of compensation under Section 357A (4) can be availed by victims even prior to the enactment

Case title – District Collector Alappuzha v. District Legal Service Authority, Alappuzha and others [WP(C).No.7250 OF 2014(E)].

A landmark judgement was passed by Kerala High Court about the Section 357A (4) of Criminal Procedure Code. The question that arose is “whether the victim of crime prior the date of 31.12.2009 be entitled to compensation under Section 357A (4) of the Criminal Procedure Code”. Does the application of provision give a retrospective or prospective effect? The Court held that the provision of Section 357A (4) is not giving a retrospective effect, but the prospective effect is provided on an antecedent fact.Section 357A of Criminal Procedure Code is a concept of rehabilitation of the victim.

The respondents in the case are legal heirs of the deceased, who died in a motor vehicle accident.

The accused could not be traced or identified. The legal heirs approached the District Legal Services under Section 357A (4) for compensation. After the investigation, the State of Kerala was directed to pay compensation of Rs.3, 03,000 to the respondents.

The order was challenged by the State of Kerala before the High Court.The Court observed that the State has a responsibility to assist the victim of the crime. It was held that if a victim suffers loss or injury and the offender has not been found or traced, then Section 357A (4) is available. The court held that the victim is entitled to compensation even prior to the enactment of the provision.

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