This article has been written by Nashrah Fatma, a third-year law student at the Faculty of Law, Jamia Millia Islamia.
This article aims to discuss the various aspects of victim restoration under Indian law.
|2.||ORIGIN AND DEVELOPMENT OF VICTIMOLOGY IN INDIA|
|3.||WHO IS A VICTIM?|
|4.||COMPENSATION TO VICTIMS|
|5.||VICTIM RIGHTS AND VICTIMOLOGY IN INDIA|
|6.||RIGHT OF PRIVACY OF RAPE VICTIMS|
Crime affects a large number of people. It is a violation of interpersonal relationships. The criminals or perpetrators are punished for their criminal acts but the plight of the sufferers or victims of the crime cannot be ignored. Victimization refers to any form of pain endured by the victim of a crime experienced by a victim of an assault. When a victim reports a crime, law enforcement acts, and the victim’s journey through the criminal justice system begins. The trauma may worsen due to all these procedures in the criminal justice system, and re-victimization may also play a role. Victimology is the study of victimization, which includes a scientific analysis of the connection between the victim’s physical and psychological distress and the crime.
Benjamin Mendelsohn, a criminologist, is credited with being the first to use the term “victimology”. Between the 1940s and 1950s, he and his colleague Hans von Hentig examined victimology with a focus on what types of behaviours or qualities the victim exhibited that drew the attention of the offender and resulted in the victimization. They are regarded as the “Father of Victimology Study.”
Von Henting examined homicide victims and found that they were more likely to be of the “depressive type”, who were easy prey for criminals. Following this approach, another victimologist postulated that “many victims precipitate homicide was in reality caused by the unconscious inclinations of the victims to commit suicide”.
The criminal justice system has largely ignored the victims of crime, despite the fact that they frequently get support and help from their families, tribe, or community. Only recently have criminal law jurisdictions come to the realization that victims must be treated with empathy and that their basic rights and dignity must be safeguarded.
The scientific study of victimization, including the interactions between victims and offenders, the criminal justice system, the police, courts, correctional personnel, and victims, can be roughly referred to as victimology. However, the study of victimology is not just defined by these relations but also by other forms of human rights violations that are not necessarily crimes.
ORIGIN AND DEVELOPMENT OF VICTIMOLOGY IN INDIA
The goal of the criminal justice system in India during the early Vedic era was not only to punish offenders but also to make amends for the victims. Throughout the Mughal and British periods of Indian history, the focus was more on punishing perpetrators than providing victims with compensation. The only things the criminal justice system cared about were guiding offenders and attempting to change them. However, since the 1980s, and mainly as a result of legal action, the protection of victims has garnered more attention.
WHO IS A VICTIM?
The victim as defined by Section 2(wa) of the Code of Criminal Procedure is as follows: ‘Victim’ refers to a person who has suffered any loss or injury caused by reason of the act or omission for which the accused person has been charged, and the victim includes his or her guardian or legal heirs. The concept of victim includes any person who experiences an injury, loss, or hardship due to any cause.
The primary victims are those who are most directly impacted by the offence, but there are also other victims, including witnesses, members of the affected community, and family members of both the victims and the offenders. It is imperative to address the relationships that were impacted by the crime. Responses to the variety of needs and damages felt by victims, offenders, and the community constitute restoration.
COMPENSATION TO VICTIMS
Traditionally, compensation was awarded according to the principle “Ubi remedium ibi jus” (where there is a remedy, there is a right principle. Criminal law was not a concept in any prehistoric culture. Every crime, including murder, might be made up for financially. Every crime was, in fact, a civil wrong rather than an offence against society as a whole. The phrase “Ubi Jus ibi remedium” -where there is a right, there is a remedy” holds true in the present times. The idea of compensation nowadays is that no one should go without compensation.
There are some general and specialized laws with provisions relating to compensatory relief in India.
Sections 357 (1) and (2) of Cr.P.C. empower the trial court to award compensation to the victims of crime. The compensation provided in S. 357(1) includes costs, damage, or injury, suffered or loss caused due to death or monetary loss incurred due to theft or destruction of property, etc. Similarly, Sec.357-A is inserted by Amendment Act 2008 in Cr.P.C. and it provides a scheme relating to victim compensation. Accordingly, every State Government is required to prepare a scheme for providing funds for the purpose of payment of compensation to a victim or his dependent who has suffered any loss or injury due to the crime.
The current criminal justice system is predicated on the idea that the conviction of the offender is sufficient to recognize the rights of a crime victim. The Ministry of Home Affairs Committee on Reforms of the Criminal Justice System, chaired by Justice Dr. V.S. Malimath, recognized “justice to victims” as one of the core principles of Indian criminal law in its Report presented to the Government of India in March 2003. By permitting, among other things, involvement in criminal processes as well as compensation for any loss or injury, it suggests a comprehensive justice system for the victims.
Victimology was not formally acknowledged as a branch of criminology until the 1970s. The founding of the World Society of Victimology by criminologist Hans Schneider in 1979 was one of the significant turning points in the history of victimology. It is presently a nongovernmental, nonprofit organization with Special Category consultative status with the Council of Europe and the Economic and Social Council (ECOSOC) of the United Nations.
As the word implies, victimology is the study of victims. The United Nations Declaration of Basic Principles of Justice for Victims of Crime and Abuse of Power, 1985, defines a “victim of crime” as a person or group of persons who have been harmed, individually or collectively, by acts or omissions that violate criminal laws in effect within the Member States, including those laws proscribing criminal abuse of power.
VICTIM RIGHTS AND VICTIMOLOGY IN INDIA
Victims’ rights have been given recognition by the Indian Criminal Jurisprudence. By submitting an F.I.R. under Section 154 of the Code of Criminal Procedure or a complaint before the Magistrate under Section 200, the victim or any other person initiates the legal process. The victim has the right to be present at every process, including the bail application, the investigation, the inquiry, the trial, and any future sentencing or parole hearings. It recognizes the harm done to the victim as well as his interest.
When an F.I.R. is filed, the police launch an investigation. However, the police cannot begin an investigation if there is a report of an offence that is not cognizable without the consent of a magistrate who has the power to try the case or commit it for trial. The office in charge of the Police Station need not go in person or appoint a subordinate officer to conduct an inquiry immediately in the case of a cognizable offence when the information is presented against any person by name and the situation is not serious. Officer-in-Charge of the Police Station shall not examine the case if it appears that there is insufficient justification for opening an investigation.
Additionally, the option to complain to the Magistrate has been provided. A magistrate who receives a complaint about an offence must examine the complainant and any present witnesses.
RIGHT OF PRIVACY OF RAPE VICTIMS
In numerous instances, the privacy of the victims is infringed. Their name or place of residence is made public which may cause them to suffer even after restoration or rehabilitation. The Supreme Court, in Raja Gopal’s case, observed that a citizen has a right to safeguard the privacy of his own, his family, marriage, procreation, motherhood, childbearing, education, etc. because the right to privacy is inherent in the right to life and liberty guaranteed under Article 21 of the Constitution. However, despite the fact that the CrPC specifically states that rape cases must be tried in secrecy, the privacy of the victim is breached throughout a criminal prosecution. In Gurmeet Singh’s case, the Supreme Court was forced to reiterate the law as it is stated in Section 327 of the CrPC.
A victim may be authorized to instruct a pleader as a prosecutor in any Court pursuant to Section 301(2). In such a case, the prosecution will be handled by the public prosecutor or assistant public prosecutor in charge of the case.
Section 12 of The National Legal Service Authority Act, of 1987 reinforced the idea of free legal aid. It provides that every person who has to file or defend a case shall be entitled to legal services under this Act if that person is a Scheduled Caste or Scheduled Tribe member, a woman, a child, a person who is mentally ill or otherwise disabled, an industrial worker, a victim of a major disaster, or a person in custody of a protective home as defined by clause (g) of Section 2 of the Immoral Traffic (Prevention) Act, 1956 and people whose annual income is less than Rs. 9,000 or another higher amount that may be prescribed by the State Government if the case is before a court other than the Supreme Court, and less than Rs. 12,000 or another higher amount that may be prescribed by the Central Government if the case is before the Supreme Court.
In the State of Himachal Pradesh v. Prem Singh, the Supreme Court has held that the delay in lodging F.I.R. in a case of sexual assault cannot be equated with a case involving other offences. There are several matters that weigh the mind of the prosecutrix and her family members before coming to the police station to lodge a complaint and in such cases of sexual assault, the victim’s psychological and mental torment should definitely be considered.
In India, the higher courts have traditionally taken great care to ensure that victims of crime receive compensation. Since the Supreme Court’s formation, the first instance in which a person received monetary compensation for the violation of one of his or her fundamental rights was the case of Ruddal Shah v. State of Bihar that a person is entitled to compensation for the loss or injury caused by the offence, and this includes the victim’s wife, spouse, parents, and children. The ruling, in this case, is a landmark one since it sparked the development of compensatory jurisprudence for constitutionally protected fundamental rights violations. It is significant in this regard that this verdict was based on the Court’s interpretation of the Indian Constitution and that there is no clear provision in the text of the Indian Constitution for awarding compensation and that this judgment was on the basis of the Court’s interpretation of the extent of its remedial powers.
In the case of Bhim Singh v. State of Jammu & Kashmir, the court ordered a compensation of Rs. 50,000 to the petitioner, a member of the Legislative Assembly, for the violation of his legal and constitutional rights after finding that he was maliciously and deliberately detained and arrested by the police in order to prevent him from attending the assembly session. The court observed that the malicious intention of the arrest and detention is not washed away by his later release.
The victim or his family cannot be neglected by the court in its efforts to uphold and defend the human rights of the convict if the victim dies or becomes otherwise unable to support himself as a result of the convict’s criminal act. The victim is certainly entitled to reparation, restitution, and safeguarding of his rights. In the criminal justice system, a victim of a crime cannot be ignored. He has endured the most hardship. His family is completely destroyed, especially in the event of death or severe physical harm. This is in addition to considerations like humiliation and reputational damage. An honour that is lost or a life that is snuffed out cannot be recompensed but then monetary compensation will at least provide some solace. This was observed in the case of the State of Gujarat v. Hon’ble High Court of Gujarat.
For a variety of reasons, witnesses and victims of crime are hesitant to cooperate with the criminal justice system and actively participate in court procedures. When called to the police station for questioning, witnesses are scarcely ever treated with respect. Additionally, they do not receive any compensation in the form of TA and DA reimbursement, as required by section 160(2) of the CrPC. The court’s repeated adjournments of cases, the subordinate courts’ lack of basic amenities, and the failure to pay TA and DA for witnesses’ attendance in court all cause a significant amount of difficulty for the witnesses. The prosecution would brand the witnesses hostile for not backing the statement recorded by the IO or the overzealous defence attorney would browbeat them for being questioned after a long interval of 5 to 10 years after the incident.
The limitation of the aforementioned legal provisions is that when the accused is exonerated of the allegation, which occurs in roughly 93% of instances in India, compensation cannot be granted by the court. The United Nations General Assembly has advised states to compensate crime victims when the criminal or other sources are unable to provide it in full. The urgent needs of crime victims are not being addressed by Indian legislators. Despite being required to comply with the terms and conditions of the International Covenant to Protect Human Rights and Fundamental Freedoms, India has not passed any legislation to provide compensation to the victims when the accused is found not guilty by a criminal court. As a result, the victims of racial strife, dacoity, arson, rape, etc. are not receiving any recompense.
The study of victims in the contemporary criminal justice system and providing restoration remains the sole focus of mainstream victimology. This emphasis has affected how crime is measured and the role that victims play in addition to increasing awareness and understanding of crime victims. Additionally, society as a whole is morally responsible for the crime because it is a result of some unfavourable socioeconomic conditions. If the State fails to eliminate certain issues from society, it must provide compensation.
Organized crimes, such as drug trafficking, shootings, money laundering, extortion and murder for rent, fraud, and people trafficking, in particular, are rapidly raising the crime rate in India. A survey indicates that every two minutes, a crime against a woman is reported in India. The data emphasize how vital it is to create effective law and order in the country and suitable victim compensation mechanisms.
- L. D. Dabhade & N. A. Qadri, Present Scenario of Contempt and Development of Victimology in India, 2 IJRSSIS 61-64 (2015).
- (1994) 6 S.C.C. 632 (India).
- (1996) 2 S.C.C. 384 (India).
- 2009 Cr LJ 789 (S.C.).
- (1983) 4 S.C.C. 141 (India).
- (1985) 4 S.C.C. 677 (India).
- (1998) 7 S.C.C. 392 (India).
- R K Bag, Perspectives in Victimology in Context of Criminal Justice System, 41 JILI 78 (1999).