The concept of rehabilitating and compensating victims of crime came very late to India. Much of the brilliant minds gave ample attention to convicts and their reformation that the plight of victims, in general, was neglected for decades.
It’s disheartening to know that victims of crime are not paid adequate compensation. Victim here does not only mean the immediate victims, but also the family members in case the victim is deceased.
I’ll quote you a 1993 case, Nilabati Behera v/s State of Orrisa, where a mother’s 22-year-old son was killed in police custody. The mother received one and a half lakh rupees as compensation. How belittling.
In another case in 1990, a nine-year-old kid died due to the beating by a police officer while interrogation. Supreme Court directed to pay 75,000 rupees as compensation. And if you don’t already know, it is not within a police officer’s power to interrogate, arrest or torture a child.
If the above quoted two cases are not pathetic enough, then here’s another: the case of Delhi Democratic Working Women’s Forum v/s Union of India. Six domestic workers were raped by seven army jawans in a moving train. The court ordered for a compensation of ten thousand rupees for each of the six victims. There’s little doubt that this is a meager amount of an insulting nature.
These are just three of the many cases where the relief amount paid isn’t logically acceptable or adequate. Sure, the court takes into consideration the class, social background, business and locality the victim or deceased belongs to, not to forget the nature, manner, and quantum of loss he has suffered. But some of these criteria are quite demeaning and, to some extent, discriminatory.
For instance, when Bhim Singh, the then member of J&K Legislative Assembly, was unlawfully detained for few hours to prevent him from attending the assembly sessions, he was awarded a compensation of fifty thousand rupees. And that was in 1986.
How is unlawful detention more regressive, or painful than the rape of domestic workers in a moving train? There’s a simple logic, the affluent class can grab more relief than the ones belonging from lower income groups. And I thought the country was everybodys’.
Not to forget the case of Rudal Shah where a person was kept in jail for 14 years even after he was acquitted of all charges by the court. Compensation? Thirty-five thousand rupees. Only.
There was another issue with compensatory relief to victims: what happens when the offender does not have financial stability or when the offender cannot be found?
Well, that issue has been resolved by the amendment of 2008 which added a new provision of “Victim Compensation Scheme” in the CrPC, providing guidelines for proper compensation and creating special funds for the same.
In the years following that, the compensatory nature and the importance of victimology has certainly improved. But we’ve not quite reached there yet. Apart from the regular amounts and cheques, there needs to be a body/authority which physically and actually provides amenities and services to the victims, especially rape victims, to help them overcome their trauma.
That’s a long shot though.
Just very recently the Supreme Court ordered Bihar government to pay compensation of ten lakh rupees to a rape victim who wasn’t allowed to abort her 26-week old pregnancy. This amount is still not enough, not to forget the maintenance of the newborn and loss to the victim’s personal, professional, and social life.
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