“It is a weakness of our jurisprudence that the victims of the crime, and the distress of the dependants of the prisoner, do not attract the attention of the law. Indeed, victim reparation is still the vanishing point of our criminal law. This is a deficiency in the system which must be rectified by the Legislature. We can only draw attention in this matter”

Justice Krishna Ayyar[1]


The goal of any criminal justice system is to safeguard its citizens’ rights and society from criminals by sentencing them in jail or prison when they break the law. If the accused is found guilty, they are sentenced and given time to reform. However, the criminal justice system focuses only on the offender, enforcing their rights, punishing them, and making every reasonable attempt to effectuate whatever rehabilitation that may be feasible with the help of the courts and other authorities. However, the victim is often left behind with nothing in the way of support. Their duties are only limited to informing the authorities of the crime, who will then determine how to proceed with the case, whether to pursue it or not, and what punishment to inflict on the offender based on the crime committed.

Section 2(wa) of Cr.P.C , 2008 defines “victim” as “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 expression “victim” includes his or her guardian or legal heir”. According to the Rule of Law, every State government must make sure that the country’s criminal justice system runs smoothly. The effectiveness of a nation’s criminal justice system serves as a parameter for that nation’s level of governance. Notwithstanding the current shortcomings of India’s criminal justice system, providing justice and protecting interests of crime victims is one of the grey areas that need legislative change as well as stringent executive action because they are the one who bear the brunt of the crime.

If we closely examine the existing provisions in the Indian Penal Laws and in the context of Supreme Court Judgments, the victim’s involvement still appears to be insufficient so as to provide prompt justice to them. Whatever the current criminal law provisions in India may be, they appear to be insufficient if we are talking about the victim’s involvement in a particular case. The Indian Criminal Justice System can only guarantee more about victim compensation under section 357 A of the Cr.P.C. 2008 that too at the judge’s discretion. Thus, unless they are accorded a fair and respectable position it would be very difficult to provide justice to them in the truest sense.


As opposed to this, Indian law places a strong emphasis on providing victims of crime with financial support, rehabilitation, and compensation. Regarding their ability to access justice and get fair treatment, crime victims’ position may be correctly understood if all they have access to all these rights:


  1. Right to file a FIR or a complaint in order to activate the proceedings.
  2. Victims’ rights and participation during a criminal investigation,
  3. Victims’ rights and participation during a criminal trial, and
  4. Victims’ protection following a criminal judgement.


In Nilabati Behera v. State of Orissa[2], the Apex Court reaffirmed the constitutional right of a victim of custodial crime to get compensation, stating that “it was not adequate to restrict the heirs of a victim of custodial violence to the conventional remedy of a civil suit.” It was clearly acknowledged that the public had a right to get compensation from courts using their writ jurisdiction. In D.K. Basu v. State of West Bengal[3], it was further developed that “the award of compensation in the public law jurisdiction is also without prejudice to any other action, like civil suit for damages, which is lawfully available to the victim or the heirs of the deceased victim with respect to the same matter for the tortious act committed by the functionaries of the state… the relief to redress the wrong for the established invasion of the fundament.”

Thus it is important to have dialogue to redress the issue of victims by seeing the seriousness of crime committed and the possible mental agony faced by them, their family and on the society at large. Only then the true long lasting peace and harmony will prevail in the society. Our Indian Justice System should be dare enough to ask the victim of crime that what they actually want, punishment or restorative justice and should move accordingly in dealing the cases. It is therefore imperative that the legislature step up and pass comprehensive law on victims’ rights in criminal justice, assuring victims the sense that they are no longer a “forgotten party” in the criminal justice administration.

[1] Rattan Singh v. State of Punjab AIR 1980 SUPREME COURT 84


[2] (1993) 2 SCC 746

[3] (1997) 1 SCC 416


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