Criminal Law has always dispirited the acts or omissions which in general can affect right in rem and violators have always been punished with the strict penalty but the crime rate is not falling and State is in regular to pursuit social unanimity and peace in society. The initial focus of criminalist was only on the aspect of punishment but the focus started shifting when they confronted with the fact that the person who is the victim of crime is getting nothing out of the whole process of the criminal justice system or is getting a so-called satisfaction by seeing the offender punished, and in all countries started giving their full scrutiny to the cause of victim in form of compensation.
The contribution of the judiciary to redress the claims of victims of crime in no less significant. The higher courts have played an ascendant role in assuring compensatory justice to the victims of the crime. While apportioning such compensatory relief, they have exercised with due care and caution to ensure that people’s faith in the judicial process which is not weary and victims protection rights are not denied to them.
Table of Contents
History and Development
Compensation has been employed as a stringent measure throughout history. Ancient societies never conceptually separated the realm of civil and criminal law, but mechanically required the offender to indemnify the victim and/or the family for any loss caused by the commission of the offence. However, the primary purpose of such compensation was misplaced since it was meant to protect the offender from violent retaliation by the victim or the community as opposed to compensating the victim. With time, principles of law gradually deli anted the allocation of punishment in the case of civil tort and criminal offences. Compensation was then incorporated as a victim’s right and opposed to a remedy in the case of a crime. Thus, criminal law was rid of the burden of compensation to reintegrate victims since the position of law was that criminal justice was either reformative or retributive form, for the offender, as opposed to being recuperative concerning the victim. This conventional position has in recent times undergone a notable change, as societies world over have increasingly felt that the legislatures and the courts alike were neglecting victims of the crimes. However, a scheme based on compensation by the offender to the victim is particularly problematic because the offender must be apprehended and convicted, and it is also necessary for the victim to be able to afford the same resources.
Compensation for SC/ST victims of Crime Raised
The central government has taken major steps towards the welfare of Dalits by increasing the minimum compensation for SC and ST victims of crime and also creating the categories of offences by more than double. It was on the occasion of commemorating Dr Bhim Rao Ambedkar 125th birth anniversary on 14th April 2016 that the central government issued a notification amending the SC and ST (prevention and atrocities) rules,1995 which came into force with immediate effect. The notification specifies 47 categories of offence in which state will pay compensation ranging from Rs 1 Lakh to Rs 8.25 Lakh to SC/ST victims of crime. Earlier, only 22 kinds of offences with minimum compensation ranging from Rs 60 thousand to Rs 5 Lakh was included being reported either in full or at various stages of the investigation and trial as per the schedule.
The notification specifies that any incident of intentionally touching an SC/ST woman without her consent, stalking, sexual harassment or sexual assault would lead to compensation of Rs 2 Lakh and rape victim will get Rs 5 lakh. Earlier, infuriate to the modesty or sexual exploitation of an SC/ST women invited a fine of Rs 1.2 Lakh. This change in the compensatory law for SC/ST comes as a result of a recent incident like Rohit Vermula Suicide case in which a Ph D student of the University of Hyderabad committed suicide on 17th January 2016 which led to nationwide stir against exploitation and neglect of Dalits in the Country and it is countering allegations against Central Government’s indifference towards Dalits.
Legal framework regarding Compensatory Justice in India
Victim compensation scheme in crpc
Section 357- It endows in the trial court as award compensation so the victim of crime whereas similar power is conferred to the appellant and revisional court and the court may appropriate the whole or any portion of the fine which can be recorded from the offender to be paid as compensation to the victim of crime. The compensation ordered to be paid under section 357(1) may be for cost, damage or injury suffered or loss caused due to death or monetary loss incurred due to theft or destruction of property.
It further emphasizes the court in its discretion for the compensation to the victim for the crime even though no fine has been imposed on him
Section 357 [A victim compensation scheme]- The scheme contained in this section is indeed a progressive measure to ameliorate the woes of crime victims and providing then restorative relief. The code also provides compensatory relief to the victim of unlawful arrest or detention by police without sufficient cause. When the accused is convicted of a non-cognizable offence on a complaint the court may order him to pay the cost to the complainant or in default, suffer, simple imprisonment for a period of 30 days not more than that. In case of recovery of the amount of fine of which whole or any part has to be paid as compensation to the victim then court if necessary, may attach or sale the movable property of the offender for the recovery.
In the acid attack case of Laxmi vs Union of India, the Supreme Court held that besides the treatment being made to victim in the government and private hospital cannot refuse to treat such victims instead and provide all medical facilities including the medicines, bed, food etc. they shall issue a certificate to the victim that the person is an acid attack victim which can be used for reconstructive surgeries or the other government schemes for which the victim is an entitled and further court order that the minimum compensation of 10 lakh should be paid.
The Apex Court in Suresh & Another vs. the State of Haryana observed that victim compensation, scheme notified by state specifying maximum limit od compensation and discretion to decide the quantum has been left with the state/ district legal service authorities. Even after 5 yrs. award of compensation to the victim of a crime which has not become a rule and even the interim compensation has not been awarded by the courts.
Under the Probation of Offenders Act, 1958
It also contains a provision for compensatory relief to the victim of a crime under section 5(1) of the act. The section provides that the court directing the release of the offender under section 3 or section 4, may it deem fit and further said that the accused has to pay such compensation to the victim. As the court thinks reasonable for the loss or injury caused to the latter and also the cost of the proceedings.
In the case of Balraj Singh v State of U.P, the apex court stated that in the most appropriate word has the power to award compensation to the other contributory sentence but besides thereto.
Under the Motor Vehicle act, 1988
The victim of a vehicular accident or their legal representative in case of death of the victim is entitled to claim compensation from the offender under section 5 of the said act. However, the power is this regard is ceased only with the trial court and none else.
In the case of Munusamy & Ors. Vs. M.D.T.N Transport Corp. Ltd. Villupuram the deceased was 21yrs old riding a motorcycle along with his friend on pillion rider and he has collided with a bus of respondent-driven in a rash and negligent manner, then high court allowed for grant of enhancement of compensation amount but the appellant appealed to Supreme Court on the ground while computing compensation amount and the high court had not provided for prospects.
Under the Constitution of India
The principle of payment of compensation to the victim of the crime was evolved by Hon’ble Supreme. Court. on the ground that it is the duty of the welfare state to protect the fundamental rights of every citizen not only against the actions of its agencies but for hardships on the victims on the grounds of magnanimous and the chore of social welfare, duty to protect. It is to be noted that compensation by the State for the action of its officers was evolved by the Hon’ble Supreme Court against the doctrine of English law: “King can do no wrong” and clearly stated in the case of Nilabati Behra v State of Orissa that doctrine of sovereign immunity is only applicable in the case of a sinuous act of government servant and not where there is a violation of fundamental rights and hence in a way stated that in criminal matters this doctrine is not applicable.
Victim compensation as a concept in India is still fledgling and shy to continuous development. While the courts no longer subscribe to the bygone approach of limiting victim support to the monetary penalty imposed on the convict, there is much propulsion to be gained to adequately assist victims from various backgrounds. The development of victim-centric jurisprudence must cut across legislative necessity, and afford participating instruments flexibility to respond to the diverse needs of a victim. Compensation must be actualized in the sense of realizing rehabilitation for the victim. Therefore, a holistic Victim Compensation Scheme must encompass assistance through the process of psychological support and rehabilitative measures to meld the victim back into the norm of society.
- N.V Paranjape “Criminology &Victimology” 19th Edition
- Ratanlal Dhirajlal “Code of Criminal Procedure” 20th Edition
- D Basu “The Constitution of India” 20th Edition
Bare Acts Referred
- The code of Criminal Procedure,1973
- The constitution of India
- Motor vehicle act,1988