VICTIM ASSISTANCE AND RIGHTS OF VICTIM IN INDIA

Abstract

A victim is a person who has been hurt, damaged, or killed or has suffered, severely in body or property through cruel or oppressive treatment by another, or because of illness or chance. Across the world in many countries, victims of crime are protected, assisted, restituted and compensated by appropriate laws and acts. But in India, the victims of crime have an insignificant role in the criminal justice process. This article has attempted to examine the victim assistance and rights of the victim in the Indian criminal justice system and also suggested some of the immediate steps that are too implemented by the law.

Keywords:Victim Rights, Constitution of India, Criminal Justice System, Cruelty

Introduction

In the Indian legal framework victim is defined under Section 2(wa) of the CrPC, a victim is a person who has suffered injuries, physical or -financial, tangible or intangible as a result of the wrongs committed by the accused. There are no rights of the victim as such in criminal justice system of India and the state undertakes the full responsibility to prosecute and punish the offenders by treating them as mere witnesses. In today’s scenario,- it is necessary to give a significant role of the victims of crime, as otherwise, the victim will remain restless and may develop a habitude to take law into his own hands in order to seek revenge and it will be a threat to the maintenance of Rule of Law. This is important for sustaining democracy.[1] The Supreme Court in P. Ramchandra Rao v. State of Karnataka,[2] this issue was challenged and noticed by the court,  it expressed concern for the plight of the victims of crime who, if left without a remedy might “resort to taking revenge by unlawful means resulting in increasing of crimes and criminals.

Indian Perspective      

 Under Section 357A  victim compensation under CrPC, it provides that compensation shall be prepared by State Government- in coordination with Central Government. Along with these provisions relating to restitution to victims under the Code of Criminal Procedure, 1973[3], Section 5 of the Probation of Offenders Act, 1958 [4]has made compulsory for the courts to pay the restitution and costs to the released offenders.

Rights under Constitution

Article 21 of Constitution of India Speedy Trials: The Supreme Court in its decision Raghuvir Singh vs. state of Bihar[5] at 148 page clearly stated that a right to a speedy justice is the part of the Fundamental Rights stated in Article 21.

Article 39-a  of Constitution of India stipulates that the state shall provide free legal and by suitable legislation or schemes or in any other way to ensure that opportunities for securing justice are not denied to any citizen by reason of economic or other disabilities

Further, this does not include any component for other support systems such as counseling, assessment of loss/damage/property, financial expenses and other out of pocket expenses by victims and their families and also medical expenses incurred in the private hospitals. Attempt has been made to provide “justice to victims of crime”.  The Malimath Committee was made for the Reforms of Criminal Justice System, it suggested various measures for providing assistance and rights to victim.

International Perspective

The Basic Principles of Justice for Victims of Crime and Abuse of Power[6] are:

  1. Access to justice and fair treatment;
  2. Restitution
  3. Compensation; and
  4. Assistance

With regard to the restitution and compensation in the above Declaration, it provides protection to the victims by making a provision for fair restitution to victim or their families; restitution should be part of the sentencing in criminal cases; Also if compensation is not adequate from the offender, the state should provide monetary compensation from national fund to victims who suffered physical or mental injury.  (United Nations, 1985). Victims should receive the necessary material, medical, psychological and Social Assistance through governmental, voluntary, community based and indigenous means

Also in 1985 some of the important recommendations of the Council of Europe Recommendations (2006) on the assistance to victims and prevention of victimization include the following elements: assistance, role of the public services, victim support services, information, rights to effective access to other remedies, protection, state compensation, insurance, raising public awareness of the effects of crime and so on.

Summary of Case Laws 

Nirmal Singh Kahilon v. State of Punjab[7] the Supreme Court observed that Article 21 of the Constitution of India provides the right to a fair investigation and speedy trial and it is applicable to the accused as well as the victim. Therefore, a victim of a the crime has right to a fair investigation and speedy trial.

Manjappa v. State of Karnataka[8]the court held that the compensation is the right of the injured person or victim from the offender, the court ordered appellant to pay an additional amount of Rs.10000/- to the complainant by way of compensation.” We can say that the courts in India, at least at the higher level, have started realizing the importance of the victim and the necessity to enhance the plight of the victim to the extent possible by restitution.

Mangilal v. State of Madhya Pradesh[9] held tha tthe power of the court to award compensation to the victims under Section 357 is not supporting to other sentences but in addition thereto.

Sarwan Singh v. State of Punjab[10]The Honorable Supreme Court observed it is essential for the court to decide whether the case is enough to fit for getting compensation while awarding compensation in any case. If it is found fit then also consider the fitness of the accused that he is capable of paying a fixed amount of compensation to the victim.

Conclusion and Suggestion

India is a welfare state everybody should get freedom justice without any discrimination. It is the duty of the Government to develop and support programmes that will respond to the challenges of victim rights and assistance. Assistance to victim prevents their isolation from the criminal justice system in India. It is should be remembered that none of the democratic countries can afford to ignore the rights and assistance of the victim of the ever-increasing number of crimes. Therefore, the agencies of the criminal justice system should be amenable to the needs of the victims of crime and address their issues seriously and emphatically. The Government of India and the State Governments should also enact exclusive legislations for victims of crime, like in the United States, Europe and the other developed countries. The existing provision in Indian criminal laws is not sufficient for the victim. For improvement in system, we can consider the recommendations of the Justice V.S. Malimath Committee on Reforms of Criminal Justice System.


[1]Srivastava, S.P, Theoretical and Policy Perspectives in Victimology- An agenda for the development of Victimology in India, 84 Police Research and Development Journal, 8-9, (1997) https://www.lkouniv.ac.in/site/writereaddata/siteContent/202004120812184884omendra_yadav_SW_Victimology_and_Victims_Rights.pdf

[2]P. Ramchandra Rao v. State of Karnataka (2012) 9 SCC 430.

[3]Code of Criminal Procedure, 1973

[4]Probation of Offenders Act 1958(India) No. 20, Acts of Parliament, 1949(India).

[5]Raghuvir Singh vs. state of Bihar AIR 1987.

[6] The Universal Declaration of Human Rights Act

[7]Nirmal Singh Kahilon v. State of Punjab 2009 1 SCC 441.

[8]Manjappa v. State of Karnataka 2007 SCCL COM 599.

[9]Mangilal v. State of Madhya Pradesh AIR 2004 SC 1280.

[10]Sarwan Singh v. State of Punjab AIR 1978 SC 1525.

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