Legislation for better relief to victims is being delayed, reveals RTI
It is widely appreciated that the victims of crime face a lot of hardships in India. The central government had proposed to launch a coordinated scheme to compensate victims of crime or their families through section 357A to Code of Criminal Procedure (CrPC). Reply to an application filed under the Right to Information (RTI) Act has revealed that the provision which was proposed on 31st December, 2009 is still under consideration of the Maharashtra government two-and-a-half years after the amendment. The Ministry of Home Affairs had asked all the state and union territories vide a communication dated 7th September, 2010 to prepare a draft for the scheme within four weeks. The letter read “It is requested immediate steps be taken to prepare and implement a scheme for the above purpose in respect of your state/ UT. The central government may also be consulted while finalising the scheme, wherever and whenever required. The draft may please be prepared within a period of four weeks.”
The section 357A (1) of CrPC reads, “Every state government, in coordination with the Centre, shall prepare a scheme for providing funds for compensation to a victim or his/her dependents who have suffered loss or injury as a result of a crime and who require rehabilitation”.
Till the scheme is implemented, victims can be compensated under section 357 of CrPC only through a direction to the convict(s) to pay the amount. Sometimes, the convicted person is not in a financial position to pay adequate compensation or may be untraced. The scheme provides for filing an application by the victim or his/ her dependents to the state government or the district legal services authority for claiming compensation.
The addition of section 357A is part of a group of amendments to CrPC aimed at improving the criminal justice delivery system. Many amendments have been proposed to CrPC with the objective of improving the criminal justice delivery system. The amendments being proposed include:
- The right of a victim to file an appeal against the court order acquitting an accused or convicting the accused of a lesser offence. (by an amendment to section 372 of CrPC).
- In warrant cases before magistrates, statements of witnesses may be video-recorded. (by an amendment to section 275).,