Rights of Victims Under Criminal Procedure Code

The rights of the victim have been discussed under the Criminal Procedure Code from sections 357 to 358. To understand victims’ rights, first of all, we have to understand who is a victim.

Who Is a Victim?

Victim is explicitly defined in clause (wa) of section 2 by the CrPC (Amendment) Act, 2008. To grant specific rights to the victims’ guardians and legal heirs, this section introduces a definition of a victim.

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A person who has been wounded, hurt or died due to a crime, accident, or other circumstance or action is referred to as the victim. He is the one who has suffered any damages as a result of the conduct or omission that the defendant is accused of. For this Code, the term “victim” also refers to a person’s guardian and legal heirs.

Section 357: Order to Pay Compensation

A crime victim experiences financial losses and physical/mental harm. While a civil court’s job is to make the wrongdoer pay for the loss or harm they caused to the aggrieved party, a criminal court’s job is to punish the perpetrator.

However, it would be equitable and practical to merge these two processes if it can be done without impairing the criminal and civil processes because doing so would spare time and money spent going to two different courts to seek redress. The concept is partially included in section 357 of the CrPC, which also gives the criminal court the authority to reimburse the prosecution’s costs and award damages to the victim.

This clause gives the court the authority to order the payment of the prosecution’s fees as well as compensation for the victim. According to this section, a compensation order may be issued from the fine imposed by the Trial court, Appellate court, High Court, or Court of the Session in revision at the time of passing judgment.

In the following four situations, the court may direct that all or a portion of the fine recovered to be used:

  1. Costs of the prosecution: costs that the complainant legitimately incurred during the prosecution.
  2. Compensation to the victim: anyone is entitled to compensation for the loss or harm brought on by the offence, including the deceased victim’s widow, spouse, parents, and children.
  3. Compensation to dependents: when the accused was convicted of committing or abetting the death of another person, compensation is to be paid to the dependents of the deceased, who are entitled to claim compensation under the Fatal Accidents Act 1855.
  4. Compensation to bona fide purchaser of stolen property: when the accused is found guilty of crimes such as theft, criminal misappropriation, criminal breach of trust, fraud, dishonestly receiving or returning stolen property, etc., he is required to pay any legitimate purchaser of the lost property compensation if the property is returned to the rightful owner.

The court shall consider any cash obtained as compensation under this provision for determining compensation in any later civil suit involving the same subject.

Section 357A: Victim Compensation Scheme

Under the CrPC (Amendment) Act, 2008, the newly introduced section 357A requires the collaboration of both the state and central governments to establish a “Victim Compensation Scheme.” This scheme aims to compensate victims or dependents who have suffered losses or harm due to a crime. In addition to a fine under section 326A or section 376D of the Indian Penal Code, compensation is required.

By section 357(1) of the CrPC, the state government must work with the central government to develop a plan that allocates funds to compensate victims of crime or their dependents who have experienced loss or harm due to the crime for their rehabilitation.

The District Legal Service Authority or the State Legal Service Authority, by section 357(2) of the CrPC, must determine the amount of compensation to be paid under the plan for compensating crime victims under section 357(1) of the CrPC. Only on the court’s recommendation would the aforementioned authorities reimburse the victim.

Suppose the trial court determines that the compensation granted under section 357 of the CrPC is insufficient for the victim’s rehabilitation, or if the case results in an acquittal or discharge of the accused, the court may suggest paying the victim after the trial by section 357(3) of the CrPC.

By section 357(4) of the CrPC, there may be circumstances where the dependent victim may apply to the State or District Legal Services Authority for compensation award if the criminal cannot be located or identified, but the victim is.

By section 357(5) of the CrPC, the State or the District Legal Services Authority must investigate to ascertain the veracity of any application submitted under section 357(4) of the CrPC before awarding compensation within two months.

Section 357(6) of the CrPC aims to lessen the victim’s suffering. Based on a certificate from a police officer not below the rank of the officer in charge of the station or a Magistrate of the relevant region, it enables the State or the District Legal Services Authority to order that a victim get prompt first assistance or free medical benefits.

Ravada Sasikala vs State of Andhra Pradesh, AIR 2017 SC 1166: The trial court had found the defendant guilty of throwing acid at the victim, causing significant burn injuries, and violating sections 326 and 448 of the IPC. The High Court released the accused while upholding the conviction under section 326 of the IPC by only giving him the time he had served in prison. But following a challenge to this decrease, the Supreme Court reinstated the one-year term the trial court had imposed. The Supreme Court did this while removing the victim’s right to compensation under sections 357 and 357A of the CrPC.

Section 357B: Compensation to Be in Addition to Fine Under Section 326A or Section 376D of Indian Penal Code

According to the guidelines in this section, in addition to any penalties imposed on the victim under sections 326A or 376D of the Indian Penal Code, the State Government or the District Legal Services Authority must provide the victim compensation under section 357A of the CrPC.

Section 357C: Treatment of Victims

This section tries to provide first aid care for crime victims. The Justice J.S. Verma Committee’s recommendations now include this new part.

According to the provisions of this section, regardless of whether the hospital is run by the Central Government or the State Government, all public or private hospitals are required to provide first-aid or medical treatment for victims of any offence covered by sections 326A, 376, 376A, 376B, 376C, and 376E of the Indian Penal Code. The hospital where the victim is treated is responsible for immediately reporting the occurrence to the authorities.

Section 358: Compensation to Persons Groundlessly Arrested

By this section, the Magistrate may grant compensation to a person unlawfully detained following a complaint that led to the detention without a valid justification. According to section 358 of the CrPC, the Magistrate may award damages up to one thousand rupees. The Magistrate may decide on the compensation given under this provision to make up for the time and money the person who was wrongfully detained lost.

The two prerequisites listed below must be met for this section to be applied:

  1. A police officer must have been prompted to arrest by one individual.
  2. The Magistrate who hears the case against the arrested individual must believe there was insufficient justification for the arrest.

By section 358(2) of the CrPC, the Magistrate may grant each person arrested in response to the complaint above compensation of up to one thousand rupees or as he deems appropriate.

According to section 358(3) of the CrPC, the compensation granted under this section may be recovered as if it were fine. If the person obliged to pay fails to do so, he will get a sentence of simple imprisonment for a duration that does not exceed 30 days.

Parmod Kumar vs Golekha, 1986 CrLJ 1634 (Orissa)It was decided that before ordering the informant to compensate the accused for their unjustified detention under section 358 of the CrPC, a show cause notice must be served on him, and there must also be a direct link between the information and the arrest. The information provided to the police station by the informant is just the beginning; more must be discovered. For the Magistrate to be satisfied that the informant was responsible for the accused’s arrest and that there was insufficient justification for such an arrest, there must be some objective foundation.

Section 372: No Appeal to Lie Unless Otherwise Provided (Proviso)

According to the proviso, the victim can appeal a criminal court’s decision to release the accused, convict him of a lesser crime, or impose insufficient reparations.

By way of amendment in 2008, this proviso was inserted into section 372 of the CrPC.

Naval Kishore Mishra vs State of UP and others, AIR 2019 SC 3352The actual brother of the unmarried deceased was determined to be the legal heir of the deceased and thus had the right to appeal the court’s decision to acquit the accused or convict him for a lesser offence or to impose an inadequate fine. This appeal would be made to the court to which an appeal is typically made against the decision to convict made by that court.

Dinesh Verma
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