Rule of law, democracy, development and human rights are dependent on the degree of success that the governments are able to achieve on the criminal justice front. The objectives of the criminal justice are prevention and control of crime, maintenance of public order and peace, protection of the rights of victim’s as well as persons in conflict with law, punishment and rehabilitation of those adjudged guilty of committing of crimes and generally protection of life and property against crime and criminality. It is considered the primary obligation of the state under the Constitution of India.
India derived its criminal justice system from the British model. The penal philosophy in India has accepted the concepts of prevention of crime and treatment and rehabilitation of criminals, which have been reiterated by many judgments of the Supreme Court. Victims have no rights under the criminal justice system, and the state undertakes the full responsibility to prosecute and punish the offenders by treating the victims as mere witnesses.
The Indian criminal justice system is governed by four major laws:
(i) The Constitution of India, 1950
(ii) The Indian Penal Code, 1860
(iii) The Code of Criminal Procedure, 1973
(iv) The Indian Evidence Act, 1870
The legislative power is vested with the Union Parliament and the state legislatures and the law-making functions are divided into the Union List, State List and Concurrent List in the Indian Constitution. The Union Parliament alone can make laws under the Union list and the state legislatures alone can make laws under the State list, whereas both the Parliament and the State Legislatures are empowered to make laws on the subjects mentioned in the Concurrent List of the Constitution. The Constitution of India guarantees certain fundamental rights to all citizens. Under the Constitution, criminal jurisdiction belongs concurrently to the central government and the governments of all the states.
At the national level, two major criminal codes, the Indian Penal Code, 1861 and the Code of Criminal Procedure, 1973, deal with all substantive crimes and their punishments, and the criminal procedure respectively to be followed by the criminal justice agencies, i.e. the police, prosecution and judiciary during the process of investigation, prosecution and trial of an offence. These two criminal laws are applicable throughout India and take precedence over any state legislation. All major offences are defined in the Indian Penal Code and these apply to resident foreigners and citizens alike. Besides the Indian Penal Code, many special laws have also been enacted to tackle new crimes. The Indian criminal justice system has four sub-systems which include: Legislature, (Union Parliament and State Legislatures), Law enforcement (Police), Adjudication (Courts), and Corrections (adult and juvenile correctional institutions, Probation and other non-institutional treatment). The criminal justice system in India is based on adversarial model.
Criminal justice administration in India, constitutionally speaking, is the area earmarked for the States. Naturally, one may expect it to be disparate. But despite some disparities the administration exudes exceptional uniformity. The reason for this is obvious. It is the powerful presence of the appellate judiciary – the High Courts and the Supreme Court that ensure this uniformity. But many a time conflicts occurs threatening uniformity. The Supreme Court intervenes wherever necessary; resolves the conflicts, settles the law, brings clarity and certainty. However, in a system where the High Court is having writ jurisdiction, chances for conflict are frequent and unless they are brought to the Supreme Court there may be spells of uncertainty in law. Sometimes, the Supreme Court Benches create conflicts and unless they are resolved by larger benches confusion may continue to haunt us. It is, therefore, necessary that the judiciary may be made aware of these conflicts so that it could take remedial steps to settle the law.
The scope of fundamental freedoms and the space for democracy have both been enlarged and increased over the years. Shortcomings are definitely there and lot of criticisms as well. No institution in a democracy is above criticism. What is important is that criticisms should be based on facts and performance. As head of the judicial system it may be appropriate to answer the criticisms, clarify the facts and defend the institution enabling it to serve the litigant public better. It needs to be reiterated that it is the commitment of every member of our judicial establishment to uphold the purity of justice and to ensure its timely delivery to the millions who knock at our doors. This should be seen as a sign of our commitment to rule of law and of our convictions on the ability of courts to give fair and impartial justice.
This is the reason for which, the judiciary has expanded the contours of its judgments and opinions. The earlier judgments of the High Courts and the Apex Court were restricted to the word of law. But as the time changed, the judges also started to give diverse judgments, and some time crossing the wall of legislature. There are plethora of cases in which the judiciary, through their dynamic and bold judgments, has enhanced the concept of fundamental rights especially Article 14, 19 and 21 of the Indian Constitution, 1950. Right to livelihood, right to clean and clear environment, right to shelter etc; are some of the rights, brought up by the judiciary. In the area of criminal justice administration, the judiciary, again, played a considerable role. Several rights emerged and occupied substantial value in the criminal justice system. For example, right to bail, right to legal aid, rights of the arrested person, right of prisoners, right against solitary confinement, right to damages, right against handcuffing, etc. Thus, one can say that the Indian judicial system plays an active and dynamic role in the development, growth and expansion of the human rights and the laws of our country.
VICTIMOLOGY AND VICTIMS OF CRIME
There is a large body of evidence that demonstrates a close relationship between offending and victimization. One reason for this is that some kinds of crime arise out of mutual interactions between people, to the extent that victims and offenders are almost interchangeable. Even where crimes do not arise immediately out of interpersonal interactions, people often tend to commit offences on others within their social circle, because these people are most accessible to them, or because they are paying off an old score. This way we can say that victimization is the relation between victim and the accused, there is no exact definition available on it. There are different theories of victimization which are as follow:
- Primary victimization
- Secondary victimization (post crime victimization)
- Re-victimization (repeatedly became the victim)
- Self-victimization (variety of reason to justify abuse)
The study of crime victims and issues related to victimization is known as victimology. Victimilogy is the study of the risk factors for and consequences of victimization, and criminal approaches dealing with victims and victimization. The risk factors for victimization are basically the same as the risk factors for victimizing in terms of gender, race, age, personal characteristics, and neighbourhood. Victimology is seen by some scholars as a separate discipline in itself. Others see it as an important subfield of criminology. Victimology has its origin in early societies, where concerns for the victim outweighed concerns for exacting societal punishment on the offender. It has only been within the last thirty years that concerns for the welfare of the victim have reemerged.
As scholars, politicians, criminal justice practitioners and the public as a whole have become more knowledgeable about victimization, strategies for determining the nature and extent of victimization have changed dramatically. Similarly, theories of victimology have developed from simple typologies that classified victim characteristics to diverse explanations of victimization. As the study of victimology developed, it was both helped and hindered by the concept of victim precipitation. Victim precipitation is a concept that a victim could be a contributing factor to his or her successive victimization. While victim precipitation was seen by many scholars as an important means of understanding both victim-offender relationships and situational factors, critics believed that it unfairly blamed victims for the offenses committed against them.
More recent theories of victimology allow for scholars from diverse perspectives such as critical criminology and routine activities theory to pursue their particular interests in understanding and, it is hoped, remedying the problem of criminal victimization. Victim precipitation is no longer believed to be as divisive a topic within victimology. Indeed, situational and personal factors originally discussed in the early victim precipitation discussions are dealt with in contemporary lifestyle theories.
Victimology as a branch of criminology encompasses the study of the following:
ii. Victim – offender relationships;
iii. Victim – criminal justice relationships;
iv. Victim and the media relationship;
v. Victims and costs of crime;
vi. Victims and societal reactions;
vii. Compensatory remedy for victims.
The term ‘crime victim’ refers to any person, group or entity who has suffered injury or loss due to illegal activity of someone. The harm can be physical, psychological or economic. Such a person may be called a ‘primary victim of crime’. Besides, there are also ‘secondary crime victims’ who suffer harm or injury or harm to the primary crime victim. For example, the children of a raped woman or a battered woman suffering from lack of paternity are called bastards. According to Quinney: – “The victim is a conception of reality as well as an object of events. All parties involved in sequence of actions construct the reality of the situation. And in the larger social contacts, we all engage in common sense construction of the crime, the criminal, and the victims”
The Code of Criminal Procedure (Amendment) Act, 2008, added clause ‘wa’ to the principal Code which says, “victim” means 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”.
The United Nations General Assembly Declaration of Basic Principles of Justice for Victim and Abuse of Power, 1985 defined ‘victim’ as:
1. “Victims” means persons who, individually or collectively, have suffered harm, including physical or mental injury, emotional suffering, economic loss or substantial impairment of their fundamental rights, through acts or omissions that are in violation of criminal laws operative within Member States, including those laws proscribing criminal abuse of power.
2. A person may be considered a victim, under this Declaration, regardless of whether the perpetrator is identified, apprehended, prosecuted or convicted and regardless of the familial relationship between the perpetrator and the victim. The term “victim” also includes, where appropriate, the immediate family or dependants of the direct victim and persons who have suffered harm in intervening to assist victims in distress or to prevent victimization.
Under the Indian criminal justice system victims of crime have no rights as such, and the state undertakes the full responsibility to prosecute and punish the offenders by treating the victims as mere witnesses. Justice requires that a person who has suffered must be compensated. Basically, the accused is responsible for the reparation of any harm caused to the victim. We have five statutes, under which compensation may be awarded to the victims of crime.
i. The Constitutional Remedies for Human Rights Violation
ii. The Criminal Procedure Code, 1973
iii. The Fatal Accidents Act, 1855
iv. The Probation of Offenders Act, 1958
v. The Motor Vehicles Act, 1988
Historically speaking, Criminal Justice System seems to exist to protect the power, the privilege and the values of the elite sections in society. The way crimes are defined and the system is administered demonstrate that there is an element of truth in the above perception even in modern times. However, over the years the dominant function of criminal justice is projected to be protecting all citizens from harm to their person or property, the assumption being that it is the primary duty of a State under rule of law. The State does this by depriving individuals of the power to take law into their own hands and using its power to satisfy the sense of revenge through appropriate sanctions. The State is itself the victim when a citizen commits a crime and thereby questions its norms and authority. In the process of this transformation of torts to crimes, the focus of attention of the system shifted from the real victim who suffered the injury to the offender and how he is dealt with by the State.
Criminal justice came to comprehend all about crime, the criminal, the way he is dealt with, the process of proving his guilt and the ultimate punishment given to him. The civil law was supposed to take care of the monetary and other losses suffered by the victim. Victims were marginalized and the State stood forth as the victim to prosecute and punish the accused. The victims do not get at present the legal rights and protection they deserve to play their just role in criminal proceedings which tend to result in disinterestedness in the proceedings and consequent distortions in criminal justice administration.
When a person who has been the victim of a cognizable offence gives information to the police regarding the same, the police are required to reduce the information into writing and read it over to the informant. The informant is required to sign it and get a copy of the FIR [section 154 (1) & (2) of Cr.P.C.]. If the police refuse to record the information, the victim – informant is allowed to send it in writing and by post to the Superintendent of Police concerned [Section 154 (3)]. If the police refuse to investigate the case for whatever reason, the police officer is required to notify the informant of that fact [Section 157 (2)]. Alternatively, victims are enabled by Section 190 of the Cr. P. C. to avoid going to the Police Station for redress and directly approach the Magistrate with his complaint.
Complainants say that they are treated indifferently by police and sometimes harassed when they go to them with their grievances. There are complaints that the police do not truthfully record the information but distort facts as found convenient to them. Cognizable cases are made non-cognizable and vice-versa. Complaints are sometimes made by the accused and investigations initiated accordingly. Though these are unauthorized by the law and are rare, yet whenever it happens the victim gets disillusioned and alienated from the system itself.
The investigation process is exclusively a police function and the victim has a role only if the police consider it necessary. There are administrative instructions given by police departments of certain States to give information on progress of investigation to the victim when asked for. Otherwise till police report (charge sheet) is filed under Section 173 Cr. P. C., the victim’s plight is pitiable. This is the time victims need assistance the most and the law is silent on it. After the police report is taken cognizance of by the Magistrate, if he decides to drop the proceedings, it is required of him to hear the victim-informant by issuing notice to him. The Court seems to have recognized a gap in the statutory provision and enjoined the court not to drop proceedings without giving an opportunity to the victim to ventilate his grievance.
Section 250 of the Code of Criminal Procedure 1973 authorizes Magistrate to direct complainants or informants to pay compensation to people accused by them without reasonable cause. Section 357 enables the court imposing a sentence in criminal proceedings to grant compensation to the victim and to order the payment of cost to the prosecution. Under Section 357A victim compensation is now made applicable by the Code of Criminal Procedure, 1973 and it does not require the apprehension and conviction of the offender to provide financial relief to the victims. The Scheme for providing compensation shall be prepared by State Governments- in coordination with Central Government. Such scheme shall provide for compensation for:
a. Victim of Crime
b. Dependents of victim who died as a result of crime, who have suffered loss or injury and who require compensation.
The quantum of compensation shall be decided by District Legal Service Authority or State Legal Service Authority, on recommendation for compensation by the court. Further, Section 358 of Cr.P.C. empowers the court to order a person to pay compensation to another person for causing a police officer to arrest such other person wrongfully. Under Section 359 of the Code when any person has been convicted in non-cognizable case the Court may order for the refund of expenses incurred by the complainant in launching the prosecution.
The Probation of Offenders Act, 1958, vide its section 5 empowers the trial court to order for compensation. The plain reading of this section clearly shows that the trial court and non-else. The whole discussion about legislative framework is incomplete until Sections 431 and 421 of Cr.P.C. is read with the above section. Section 421 provides for mean to recover the fine by attachment and sale of movable property of the offender and also from both movable and immovable property as arrears of land revenue. Section 431 empowers the courts to recover any money (other than fine) payable by virtue of any order made under the Code as if it were fine.
The Malimmath Committee in its recommendation perceived that ‘justice to victims’ is one of the inseparable imperatives of the criminal justice system in India. It argues for the holistic justice to victims of crime by allowing them, as a matter of right, in criminal proceedings as well as to seek compensation for loss or injury. The Malimath Committee can be credited with at least accurately stating the obvious – that the absence of a law on witness protection has resulted in a growing trend of hostile witnesses.
It is a fact that in India, thousands of violent offences go unreported. The effects of crime, evaluated in terms of the psychological and physical damage caused to hundreds of thousands of Indians every year, can be devastating. However, it is a fact that the victims and relatives are reluctant to divulge any information concerning heinous offences, due to fear of victimization by and reprisals from the perpetrators. Given this state of affairs, crime detection (especially in heinous offences) and crime prevention can become arduous jobs for the police. Undoubtedly, the role of witnesses in assisting police investigations and giving evidence in court is crucial to the success of criminal prosecutions.
ROLE OF JUDICIARY IN EMANICIPATING RIGHTS OF VICTIMS
Justice traditionally has been understood to involve prosecution, conviction and punishment of guilty in order to restore public order, security and respect for rule of law. The victims, survivors and witnesses go to the altar of the court for a variety of reasons: the desire for the truth to be known, to speak for the dead, to demand accountability and to demand justice. Some years ago, Justice Albie Sachs, a member of the Supreme Court of South Africa said: “Justice is not only in the end result; it is also in the process”. These words spell out the expanded meaning of justice in the present day’s context. The preoccupation of the justice delivery system ought to be not only with whether a conviction or acquittal was secured, but whether the judicial system was able to inspire the confidence of victims and witnesses to truthfully testify before it in order to ensure conviction of the guilty.
Section 357 (3) of the Code of Criminal Procedure, 1973 empowers the trial court, while imposing fines, to direct that the fine recovered be paid as compensation to the victim of the crime. Where the court has not imposed fine as part of the conviction, it may direct the accused to pay compensation to the victim. However, courts do not often resort to these and other provisions provided in our penal statutes. In Hari Shankar v Sukhbir Singh, the accused were convicted and sentenced under Section 325 read with Section 149, Section 323 read with Section 149 and Section 148 of the Indian Penal Code, 1860. They were released on probation of good conduct. Each of them was ordered to pay compensation of Rs.2, 500/- to the injured. In default of payment of compensation, they were directed to serve their sentence. The Court inter alia considered whether the compensation awarded to the injured could be legally sustained. The court observed that the power of the court under Section 357(3) to award compensation is not ancillary to other sentences, but it is in addition thereto and is intended to do something to reassure the victim that he or she is not forgotten in the criminal justice system. The court further observed that it is a measure of responding appropriately to crime as well as of reconciling the victim with the offender. Describing it as a constructive approach to crime, the court recommended to all courts to exercise this power liberally so as to meet the ends of justice in a better way. It was clarified that the order to pay compensation may be enforced by awarding sentence in default.
It was further observed, “The payment by way of compensation must, however, be reasonable. What is reasonable may depend upon the facts and circumstances of each case. The quantum of compensation may be determined by taking into account the nature of crime, the justness of claim by the victim and the ability of accused to pay. If there are more than one accused they may be asked to pay in equal terms unless their capacity to pay varies considerably. The payment may also vary depending upon the acts of each accused. Reasonable period for payment of compensation, if necessary by installments, may also be given. The court may enforce the order by imposing sentence in default.”
In Mangilal v State of M.P, the Supreme Court dealt with the scope of Section 357(3) of Cr.P.C in detail. The Court observed: – “The power of the court to award compensation to the victims under Section 357 is not ancillary to other sentences but is in addition thereto. Section 357(1) deals with a situation when a court imposes a fine or a sentence (including sentence of death) of which fine also forms a part. It confers discretion on the court to order as to how the whole or any part of fine recovered is to be applied. If no fine is imposed, section 357(1) has no application. The basic difference between sub-section (1) and (3) of Section 357 is that in the former case, the imposition of fine is the basic and essential requirement; while in the latter even the absence thereof empowers the court to direct payment of compensation. Such power is available to be exercised by an appellate court or by the High Court or Court of Sessions when exercising revisional powers”. In Rattan Singh v. State of Punjab the Court said that it is a weakness of our jurisprudence that the victims of the crime, and the distress of the dependents of the prisoner, do not attract the attention of the law. Indeed, victim reparation is still the vanishing point of our criminal law.
In Dilip S. Dahanukar v. Kotak Mahindra Co. Ltd. and Another, the Court said, “….The purpose of imposition of fine and/or grant of compensation to a great extent must be considered having the relevant factors therefore in mind. It may be compensating the person in one way or the other. The amount of compensation sought to be imposed, thus, must be reasonable and not arbitrary. Before issuing a direction to pay compensation, the capacity of accused to pay the same must be judged. A fortiori, an enquiry in this behalf even in a summary way may be necessary. Some reasons, which may not be very elaborate, may also have to be assigned; the purpose being that whereas the power to impose fine is limited and direction to pay compensation can be made for one or the other factors enumerated out of the same; but sub- Section (3) of Section 357 does not impose any such limitation and thus, power there under should be exercised only in appropriate cases. Such a jurisdiction cannot be exercised at the whims and caprice of a judge.”
In R. Mohan v. A.K. Vijaya Kumar, the Supreme Court responded to the legal question whether the court can award a sentence in default of payment of compensation. Under Section 357 of the Code the Court can pass order to pay compensation. Sub-Section (1) of Section 357 of the Code empowers the court to award compensation to the victim of offence out of the sentence of fine imposed on the accused. Section 357(3) is also relevant which empowers the trial court, while imposing fines, to direct that the fine recovered be paid as compensation to the victim of the crime. The Court said that the idea behind directing the accused to pay compensation to the complainant is to give him immediate relief so as to alleviate his grievance. In terms of Section 357(3) compensation is awarded for the loss or injury suffered by the person due to the act of the accused for which he is sentenced. If merely an order, directing compensation, is passed, it would be totally ineffective. It could be an order without any deterrence or apprehension of immediate adverse consequences in case of its non- observance. The whole purpose of giving relief to the complainant under Section 357(3) of the Code would be frustrated if he is driven to take recourse to Section 421 of the Code. Order under Section 357 (3) must have potentiality to secure its observance. Deterrence can only be infused into the order by providing for a default sentence. If Section 421 of the Code puts compensation ordered to be paid by the court on par with fine so far as mode of recovery is concerned, then there is no reason why the court cannot impose a sentence in default of payment of compensation as it can be done in case of default in payment of fine under Section 64 of the Indian Penal Code, 1860.
In Ankush Shivaji Gaikwad v. State of Maharashtra, the Court said, “With modern concepts creating a distinction between civil and criminal law in which civil law provides for remedies to award compensation for private wrongs and the criminal law takes care of punishing the wrong doer, the legal position that emerged till recent times was that criminal law need not concern itself with compensation to the victims since compensation was a civil remedy that fell within the domain of the civil Courts. This conventional position has in recent times undergone a notable sea change, as societies world over have increasingly felt that victims of the crimes were being neglected by the legislatures and the Courts alike. Legislations have, therefore, been introduced in many countries including Canada, Australia, England, New Zealand, and Northern Ireland and in certain States in the United States of America providing for restitution/reparation by Courts administering criminal justice.”
“The amendments to the CrPC brought about in 2008 focused heavily on the rights of victims in a criminal trial, particularly in trials relating to sexual offences. Though the 2008 amendments left Section 357 unchanged, they introduced Section 357A under which the Court is empowered to direct the State to pay compensation to the victim in such cases where “the compensation awarded under Section 357 is not adequate for such rehabilitation, or where the case ends in acquittal or discharge and the victim has to be rehabilitated.” Under this provision, even if the accused is not tried but the victim needs to be rehabilitated, the victim may request the State or District Legal Services Authority to award him/her compensation. This provision was introduced due to the recommendations made by the Law Commission of India in its 152nd and 154th Reports in 1994 and 1996 respectively”
RIGHTS OF VICTIMS IN UNITED STATES OF AMERICA
Crime Victims’ Rights Act (18 U.S.C. § 3771. Crime victims’ rights)
RIGHTS OF CRIME VICTIMS -A crime victim has the following rights:
(1) The right to be reasonably protected from the accused.
(2) The right to reasonable, accurate, and timely notice of any public court proceeding, or any parole proceeding, involving the crime or of any release or escape of the accused.
(3) The right not to be excluded from any such public court proceeding, unless the court, after receiving clear and convincing evidence, determines that testimony by the victim would be materially altered if the victim heard other testimony at that proceeding.
(4) The right to be reasonably heard at any public proceeding in the district court involving release, plea, sentencing, or any parole proceeding.
(5) The reasonable right to confer with the attorney for the Government in the case.
(6) The right to full and timely restitution as provided in law.
(7) The right to proceedings free from unreasonable delay.
(8) The right to be treated with fairness and with respect for the victim’s dignity and privacy .
RIGHTS OF VICTIMS IN CANADA
In Canada the Victims Bill of Rights Act was passed in 2015 which gives victims of crime a more effective voice in the criminal justice system, came into force. This legislation creates the Canadian Victims Bill of Rights to provide clear statutory rights at the federal level for victims of crime for the first time in Canada’s history. The Canadian Victims Bill of Rights establishes statutory rights to information, protection, and participation and to seek restitution, and it ensures that a complaint process is in place for breaches of these rights by a federal department or agency.
Under the Canadian Victims Bill of Rights, when a victim believes that his or her rights have been breached, the victim first files a complaint with the appropriate federal department or agency. The legislation includes a requirement for all federal departments and agencies that have responsibilities under the Canadian Victims Bill of Rights to have internal complaint mechanisms accessible to victims to review complaints, make recommendations to correct any infringement, and notify victims about the results of the review.
Complaints regarding a provincial or territorial agency, including police, prosecutors, and victim services, will be addressed in accordance with the applicable provincial or territorial legislation. In order to improve the remedies available to victims, the federal government is providing funding through the Victims Fund to provinces and territories to enhance or establish complaint bodies for victims of crime. This funding encourages a level of consistency in the complaints mechanisms available to victims of crime across the country without drawing funds from successful existing programs for victims of crime.
A victim can exercise the rights in the Canadian Victims Bill of Rights while an offence is being investigated or prosecuted and while the offender is subject to the corrections or conditional release process. For cases in which an accused has been found unfit to stand trial or not criminally responsible on account of mental disorder, the victim can exercise the rights while the accused is under the jurisdiction of a court or Review Board.
Though the criminal justice system has changed its purview and the legislatures and judges have been playing a significant role in the expansion of the rights of victims of crime in the criminal justice administration of the country, yet the victims have not received their due concern and their rights have not been given their due weightage. Victims have few legal rights to be informed, present and heard within the criminal justice system. But unfortunately, victims do not have to be notified of court proceedings or of the arrest or release of the defendant, they have no right to attend the trial or other proceedings, and they have no right to make a statement to the court at sentencing or at other hearings. Moreover, victim assistance programs are virtually non-existent.
For the emancipation of victims’ rights it can be said that the criminal justice system can take several steps to ensure and strengthen the rights of the victims, for example; the victims should be informed about the progress of their case timely and they should be provided with opportunities to be heard as and when they want to give an input. The victim should be more than a witness, but not have total control over the prosecution of the case. The role that the victim plays should be stronger than in the years prior to the victim’s movement, with an emphasis in sentencing. The victim and the court should communicate frequently with the courts giving victims specific explanations as to why an offender will be sentenced differently than the victim expects. This can give victims the personal gratification of being heard while balancing the power between the victim and the state. Victims should be heard in sentencing, feel satisfied, and be informed throughout case processing as the victims are the ones who feel the immediate damage caused by the crime.
The courts should also seek victim approval of the sentence with the goal of improving victim satisfaction with their involvement in the justice process. Seeking victim approval in sentencing is a way for the system to recognize that beyond the role of the state, which is impersonal, there is an individual who has personal interest in sentencing, was directly affected by the crime, and wants to be heard. They should also be adequately compensated and restituted. The criminal justice officials especially the police personnel should be given special knowledge and information on the rights of the victims in the criminal justice system. There should be a separate fund for victims’ services and their rehabilitation.
The entire criminal legal system functions primarily and substantially to provide justice to the victim. Giving the victims and witnesses a voice to testify in court without fear, participate in the court proceedings and have their rights and interests protected is of utmost importance for the legitimacy of the justice delivery system. Moreover, the present day understanding of justice necessarily includes accessibility to courts of law. Unless the judicial system is accessible to the people who demand justice, the system would exist only in name and not in substance. Needless to say, victims and witnesses would be amenable to accessing the system and give truthful testimonies only if the system guaranteed a protection of their and their families’ Privacy, security, identity and dignity.
Many a time the victims get ostracized and blamed for misfortune they face. It is easier for the people to blame a helpless and shattered victim rather to hate the criminal or the offender. It’s the society’s attitude towards victims of crime that the people usually blame the victim and don’t have the empathy for them. The criminal or the offender doesn’t face such ostracization and he/she gets mingled in the society without any problem. Had the law been tough on the criminals and took care of the rights of victims of crime, the situation would have been much different. The whole criminal justice system is offender oriented. The legislature, the executive and even many times the judiciary are concerned with the rights of the accused or the criminal. Hence, a strong message regarding victims’ rights is not forwarded to the people by them and therefore, the society does not feel the sympathy for the distressed victims.