compensation to victims in criminal trial

Another judgement reading.

Case: Manohar Singh vs. State of Rajasthan and Ors

In the case accused persons were convicted by trial court under section 323, 324, 325 and 326 IPC. In appeal, Court of Sessions (First appellate authority in criminal cases in India) set aside conviction for all offences except under section 323 and it also set aside sentence of imprisonment and granted probation on condition of paying fine i.e. Rs 5000 to victims. Revisional Application by appellate to High Court dismissed and then appeal to Supreme Court on the ground that fine imposed by not adequate.

court observed: “Order of sentence in a criminal case needs due application of mind. The Court has to give attention not only to the nature of crime, prescribed sentence, mitigating and aggravating circumstances to strike just balance in needs of society and fairness to the accused, but also to keep in mind the need to give justice to the victim of crime. In spite of legislative changes and decisions of this Court, this aspect at times escapes attention. Rehabilitating victim is as important as punishing the accused. ”

court referred to its various previous decisions wherein it lamented non-use of the sections 357 and 357A of Criminal Code Code 1973 providing for compensation to victims. In one of its judgements observations were made: “Sub-section (1) of Section 357 provides power to award compensation to victims of the offence out of the sentence of fine imposed on accused. … It is an important provision but courts have seldom invoked it. Perhaps due to ignorance of the object of it. It empowers the court to award compensation to victims while passing judgment of conviction. In addition to conviction, the court may order the accused to pay some amount by way of compensation to victim who has suffered by the action of accused. It may be noted that this power of courts to award compensation is not ancillary to other sentences but it is in addition thereto. This power was intended to do something to reassure the victim that he or she is not forgotten in the criminal justice system.”

But question is whether courts have a duty to advert to the question of awarding compensation to the victim and record reasons while granting or refusing relief to them? According to court, the language of Section 357 CrPC at a glance may not suggest that any obligation is cast upon a court to apply its mind to the question of compensation since in its first and third clause it uses the word “may” but simultaneously observed that “cases may arise where a provision is mandatory despite the use of language that makes it discretionary.”

Thus held that the provision confers a power coupled with a duty on the courts to apply its mind to the question of awarding compensation in every criminal case because not doing so would defeat the very object behind the introduction of the provision. Section 357 Cr.PC confers a duty on the court to apply its mind to the question of compensation in every criminal case. It necessarily follows that the court must disclose that it has applied its mind to this question in every criminal case and And disclosure is best demonstrated by recording reasons in support of the order or conclusion.

also referred to case K.A. Abbas H.S.A. vs. Sabu Joseph and anr wherein court held that a sentence of imprisonment can be granted for default in payment of compensation awarded under Section 357(3) CrPC. (why was it referred to?)

In last para court increased the amount from 5000 to 50,000 rs.

Following is one useless paragraph quoted by court in judgement. I am pasting it here because no matter how useless it may be for purpose of deciding the issue in hand I found it interesting and also something which I can use during my exam to fetch more marks. At times I wonder why cant court just decide the issue in a very clear and straight forward manner than discussing random things in a random manner.

” This shift from retribution to restitution began in the mid-1960s and gained momentum in the decades that followed. Interestingly the clock appears to have come full circle by the lawmakers and courts going back in a great measure to what was in ancient times common place.” Court referred to Article by Harvard Law Review (1984) summing up historical perspective of this concept. “Far from being a novel approach to sentencing, restitution has been employed as a punitive sanction throughout history. In ancient societies, before the conceptual separation of civil and criminal law, it was standard practice to require an offender to reimburse the victim or his family for any loss caused by the offense. The primary purpose of such restitution was not to compensate the victim, but to protect the offender from violent retaliation by the victim or the community. It was a means by which the offender could buy back the peace he had broken. As the State gradually established a monopoly over the institution of punishment, and a division between civil and criminal law emerged, the victim’s right to compensation was incorporated into civil law”

Source: http://indiankanoon.org/doc/195057826/

http://www.livelaw.in/best-of-2015-read-25-significant-judgments-delivered-by-supreme-court-of-india-this-year/