THE VICTIMOLOGY JURISPRUDENCE ?

Over four decades back Justice Krishna Iyer had stated “It is weakness of our jurisprudence that victims of crime and the distress of the dependents of the victim do not attract the attention of law. In fact, the victim compensation is still the vanishing point of our criminal law. This is the deficiency in the system, which must be rectified by the legislature.” However, in today’s scenario Courts have the ability to order that a defendant pay by way of restitution in order to compensate a victim for financial losses related to a crime. Independently, states also have crime victim compensation statutes designed to help certain victims and sometimes even their families recoup losses when they haven’t been sufficiently repaid. Government-run compensation programmes can come into play, for example, when there hasn’t been a conviction or the defendant doesn’t have enough money to pay restitution. Sometimes victims even pursue civil cases against defendants who have harmed them or others who were in some way responsible for the harm. The court then decides in such civil settlements whether to make a defendant pay restitution and what amount of restitution to order. In specific situations, the court may even order less to prevent the victim from receiving a windfall. However, it is a fact that restitution is part and parcel of the criminal justice system and a civil settlement agreement typically cannot prevent the court from ordering restitution in a criminal case. It is pertinent to mention here that the victim protection jurisprudence was developed in United Nations General Assembly (UNGA) in 1985 by adopting a Declaration of The Basic Principles of Justice for The Victims of Crime and Abuse of Power. This declaration was ratified by a substantial number of countries including India and is considered a landmark in boosting the pro-victim movement, by providing a comprehensive definition of victim including in it the immediate family members. Moreover, it provides for its applicability to everyone without any discrimination on the basis of race, religion, nationality, language, age, colour or cultural belief. India having ratified the UNGA’s ‘Declaration of The Basic Principles of Justice for The Victims of Crime and Abuse of Power’, has made appropriate provisions in various legislations to achieve the objectives of this declaration. It is pertinent to mention here that compensatory jurisprudence is based on crime is public wrong and  the sound principle of welfare state and Article 21 of Indian Constitution lays down that no person shall be deprived of his life or personal liberty except according to the procedure established by law, as a result of which writ jurisdiction can also be invoked under Articles 32 and 226 of the Constitution. The Fundamental Rights are not mere ‘brutum fulmen’ and in fact these are the throbbing aspiration and realities of civilized human life. Therefore, they cannot be allowed to become dead letter due to the failure on part of the State to protect those rights.  The 154th Law Commission Report on the CrPC devoted an entire chapter to ‘Victimology’ in which the growing emphasis on victim’s rights in criminal trials was discussed extensively. This report emphasized on increasing the focussed attention of criminologists, penologists and reformers of criminal justice system to victimology, control of victimization and protection of victims of crimes. Crimes often entail substantive harm to people and not merely symbolic harm to the social order. Consequently, the needs and rights of the victims of crime should receive priority attention in the total response to crime. However, progress to the desired level has not been achieved on ground so far, as the recognized method of protection of victims, in terms of compensation to victims of crime is concerned. Therefore, it is time for all the stakeholders, especially the executive and judiciary, to address the related gray areas so that the spirit of compensatory jurisprudence is not allowed to get dampened under any circumstances. This will undoubtedly rectify the said system as desired decades back by the legal luminary Justice Krishna Iyer.