SPOT­LIGHT:

Ex­perts feel that crime vic­tims in In­dia are gen­er­ally ig­nored in the jus­tice sys­tem which leads to their sec­ondary vic­tim­iza­tion in the whole process. Al­though there are many NgOs and groups which help vic­tims to cope with the af­ter­math of crim­i­nal in­cid

Bureaucracy Today - - Inside Information - By Meghna Chukkath

Ex­perts feel that crime vic­tims in In­dia are gen­er­ally ig­nored in the jus­tice sys­tem which leads to their sec­ondary vic­tim­iza­tion in the whole process. Al­though there are many NGOs and groups which help vic­tims to cope with the af­ter­math of crim­i­nal in­ci­dents, there is no law in In­dia which caters to their rights.

gen­er­ally, a vic­tim not only suf­fers from a sin­gle in­ci­dent of crime but also from a se­ries of trau­matic ex­pe­ri­ences which fol­low af­ter the event. In most cases, the crime af­fects the vic­tim’s fam­ily in a sim­i­lar in­ten­sity. It also re­sults in a se­ri­ous fi­nan­cial loss, phys­i­cal and psy­cho­log­i­cal in­juries along with mild dis­tur­bances in the vic­tim’s rou­tine lifestyle. Pun­ish­ing a crim­i­nal through a le­gal sys­tem is an af­fir­ma­tive way of pro­vid­ing jus­tice to the vic­tim. how­ever, in no way it com­pen­sates the vic­tim for the loss which he or she has to en­dure in the af­ter­math.

Ide­ally, the vic­tim de­serves a sim­i­lar kind of pro­tec­tion and at­ten­tion from po­lice and the court like an ac­cused, feels Parvez hayat, Ad­di­tional Di­rec­tor gen­eral of the Bureau of Po­lice re­search and De­vel­op­ment. “how­ever that is not the case in In­dia,” he says. At present there is no law in In­dia cater­ing to the rights of vic­tims like the way it caters to the rights of an ac­cused.

While it is a known fact that when a vic­tim re­ports a crime to the po­lice, he or she does not re­main a pas­sive sub­ject but be­comes an ac­tive com­po­nent in the ju­di­cial process. how­ever, in In­dia it has been ob­served that the vic­tim loses con­fi­dence and in­ter­est in the process of ad­ju­di­ca­tion. Ac­cord­ing to ex­perts, a crime vic­tim or a com­plainant in In­dia is only a wit­ness for the pros­e­cu­tion whereas the ac­cused has been be­stowed with many rights. It has also been ob­served that the vic­tim has no right to pro­tect his or her in­ter­ests dur­ing crim­i­nal pro­ceed­ings. some­times, even for reg­is­ter­ing a crim­i­nal case at a po­lice sta­tion one has to de­pend upon the mercy of the po­lice of­fi­cer.

“In the ex­ist­ing crim­i­nal jus­tice sys­tem, a vic­tim to a crime does not have any sig­nif­i­cant role to play as the in­ves­ti­ga­tion of the crime is the ex­clu­sive do­main of the po­lice of­fi­cer,” says hayat. he fur­ther says that though the Code of Crim­i­nal Pro­ce­dure does not com­pletely pro­hibit the vic­tim from par­tic­i­pat­ing in court pro­ceed­ings, the role of the lawyer en­gaged by the vic­tim is very lim­ited.

The United Na­tions dec­la­ra­tion rec­og­nizes ac­cess to jus­tice and fair treat­ment, resti­tu­tion, com­pen­sa­tion and as­sis­tance as in­te­gral as­pects of the crim­i­nal jus­tice process for the vic­tim. hence, hayat feels that it is im­per­a­tive to de­velop a vic­tim-ori­ented ap­proach to­wards the en­tire crim­i­nal jus­tice

sys­tem in In­dia. “At present, the state po­lice man­ual talks about the rights of the ac­cused but there is hardly any men­tion about vic­tims. This should change in or­der to strike a bal­ance in the crim­i­nal jus­tice process,” says the 1984 batch IPs of­fi­cer of the Jhark­hand Cadre.

VIC­TIM IS A STATE RE­SPON­SI­BIL­ITY

Ac­cord­ing to ex­perts, it is of­ten seen that in­di­vid­ual vic­tims feel in­se­cure and find the po­lice un­ap­proach­able. Like­wise, how their fam­ily mem­bers are cop­ing with the sit­u­a­tion be­comes un­bear­able to them. Thus, they re­sort to think­ing of sui­cide in life. “In this case it is the onus of the state to take the re­spon­si­bil­ity of the vic­tim,” says hayat.

The Bureau ADg be­lieves that the needs of vul­ner­a­ble sec­tions of In­dian so­ci­ety, in­clud­ing women and chil­dren, have not been given ad­e­quate at­ten­tion in the crim­i­nal jus­tice sys­tem. he is of the view that ev­ery state gov­ern­ment should en­sure that the vic­tim is pro­vided with safety in­for­ma­tion, guid­ance and le­gal as­sis­tance ser­vice. The vic­tim is the first in­for­mant of the in­ci­dent and is, there­fore, en­ti­tled to get a copy of an FIr free of cost. And it should be the duty of the con­cerned po­lice of­fi­cer to in­form vic­tims about their right to le­gal rep­re­sen­ta­tion be­fore any ques­tion­ing. Like­wise, a po­lice re­port should also state that the vic­tim was in­formed and guided and is will­ing to co­op­er­ate in the case. “The role of the po­lice is also very cru­cial and im­por­tant in as­sist­ing the vic­tim,” adds the se­nior IPs of­fi­cer.

Ac­cord­ing to ex­perts, it is also im­por­tant to study the men­tal sta­tus of the vic­tim as crim­i­nal in­ci­dence in any in­di­vid­ual’s life leaves man­i­fold im­pact. The vic­tim not only feels des­o­lated but also stig­ma­tized be­cause of the trau­matic in­ci­dent and the af­ter­math, in­clud­ing po­lice in­ves­ti­ga­tions and the cum­ber­some ju­di­cial process. Con­se­quently, vic­tims suf­fer in­jus­tice silently and in ex­treme cases, take the law into their own hands and seek re­venge on the of­fender. hayat feels that there should be manda­tory coun­selling by psy­chol­o­gists or psy­chi­a­trists in the case of ma­jor trau­matic in­ci­dents. Be­sides, ev­ery state gov­ern­ment should de­velop a vic­tim sup­port sys­tem.

he feels that any vic­tim who ap­proaches a po­lice sta­tion should be en­ti­tled to re­ceive coun­selling with­out be­ing ques­tioned about the trau­matic in­ci­dent. sim­i­larly, his or her pri­vacy should be main­tained and in a case where the vic­tim needs any fi­nan­cial aid to travel back home he or she should be pro­vided that help from state gov­ern­ment funds. “A wel­fare-ori­ented state should take the re­spon­si­bil­ity of le­gal as­sis­tance, shel­ter, se­cu­rity and pri­vacy. Like­wise, big cor­po­rates through PPP or via their foun­da­tions should sup­port those NgOs which are al­ready work­ing in these ar­eas,” says hayat. he is also of the opin­ion that since Ja­pan has leg­is­lated a vic­tim-ori­ented pol­icy and a crime-vic­tim re­lief foun­da­tion, the In­dian gov­ern­ment should also think on sim­i­lar lines.

There is no deny­ing the fact that there are a num­ber of NgOs which are tak­ing the onus of coun­selling and re­as­sur­ing jus­tice to vic­tims. how­ever, it is the duty of ev­ery state to think about the well-be­ing of its distressed cit­i­zens. hayat says, “Ev­ery state gov­ern­ment should have some funds al­lo­cated to vic­tims who are in the need of shel­ter, coun­selling, med­i­cal or fi­nan­cial aid. In re­cent times, the Nirb­haya Fund was one such good ini­tia­tive to help vic­tims and their fam­i­lies in dis­tress.”

Al­though no sep­a­rate law for crime vic­tims has yet been en­acted in In­dia, the sil­ver lin­ing is that vic­tim jus­tice has been ren­dered through af­fir­ma­tive ac­tion and or­ders of the supreme Court. In re­cent times, strik­ing a bal­ance be­tween the ac­cused and the vic­tim, the apex court through a plethora of de­ci­sions at­tempted to re­store the dig­nity of the vic­tim and to heal the wounds sus­tained by the vic­tim. how­ever, it took the Nirb­haya in­ci­dent to come to a re­al­iza­tion that the rights of the vic­tim should be en­forced.

send your feed­back to: meghna.chukkath@bu­reau­cra­cy­to­day.com

A crime vic­tim or a com­plainant in In­dia is only a wit­ness for the pros­e­cu­tion whereas the ac­cused has been be­stowed with many rights... the vic­tim has no right to pro­tect his or her in­ter­ests dur­ing crim­i­nal pro­ceed­ings.

Parvez Hayat, aDG, Bureau of Po­lice re­search & De­vel­op­ment

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