Plight of Victim in Criminal Justice System

                                                        (Photo: The Daily Guardian)

You want to report,
but that could get your family in danger... And if you snitch on a real gang
leader.... they can get you bad... [The] police don't have your back unless
you're like someone on the news or whatever, and they will kind of give you
witness protection. But that doesn't happen in the real world. 


 The expression
'victims of crime' has been defined in section 2 of the code of criminal
procedure, 1973. Initially, the criminal justice system in India was focused on
punishment as part of the crime without much attention on the suffering of
victims of crime. The rights of prisoners were protected even after their
conviction whereas little concern was shown for the rights of victims of crime.
Though there is a wealth of data on victims of reported crime nationally, as
well as various services and programs intending to meet their needs, there
remains a dearth of clear information on how to interrupt cycles of violence
and the persistence vulnerability that keeps such an overwhelming percentage at
high risk of experiencing more crime.

 However, with the
emergence of public interest litigation, the higher courts' attention was drawn
to this lacunae in the existing criminal justice system by social activists,
and the courts started granting compensatory relief to victims of crime, but
comprehensive legislation on this aspect of criminal justice was still awaited.
In recent times, among the many reforms canvassed for improving the criminal justice
system is the one that advocates a victim orientation to criminal justice
administration. Though there are some provisions under the Indian constitution
and some sections in the code of criminal procedure, 1973 to protect the rights
of the victims and for providing compensation, the criminal courts at the lower
level in India have ignored those provisions for a long time and not utilized
them during their sentencing processes.

 Victim plays an
important role in the criminal justice system but his or her welfare is not
given due regard by the state instrumentality. Thus, the role of high courts or
the supreme court in our country in affirming and establishing their rights
holds much importance. "
Tears shed for the accused are traditional
and trendy but has the law none for the victim of crime, the unknown martyrs
This remark by the Hon'ble Justice VK Krishna Iyer aptly describes the plight
of victims in the criminal justice system in our country. The victim is almost
a forgotten entity in the criminal system rather the irony is that the victim
sets the wheel of justice moving by giving information to the state
instrumentalities without which the entire system would collapse.

should come first

 It is of
course an indisputable fact that victims of crime have long been a forgotten
group, a group that suffered for centuries not only from society's neglect but
also from the exploration of their rightful dias by the state. It is also true
that they had their conflicts stolen by professionals and by the criminal
justice system. However, the exceptional speed with which they were
rediscovered and their cause adopted by the politicians, let alone the
political climate that prevailed at the time of their rediscovery, is bound to
raise questions about the real interests and motives behind what has been
portrayed as a genuinely humanitarian and disinterest cause.

 A comprehensive
legal code for victim compensation is a dire necessity. The time has come for
the legislature to stop shirking its duty. Hence, a comprehensive legal code
should be enacted providing for fair treatment, assistance, and adequate
compensation to victims of crime. Only on embarking on this step can justice in
its more altruistic forms be obtained. It should be made mandatory for the
state to pay compensation to the victims of the crime of not only the private
criminal wrongs but also for the criminal acts perpetrated by its agencies.
This mandatory duty of the state gains importance from two points of view
namely as a welfare state committed to the constitutional goal of social
justice and secondly, for its failure to protect the life, liberty, and
security of its citizens.

 Therefore, I would
like to conclude with this quote-

much money.... often resulted in further crimes which were fatal to innocent
victims who need not have been victims if justice had been put first and mercy

-Agatha Christie