Showing posts with label victim. Show all posts
Showing posts with label victim. Show all posts

24 December 2020

Victims are entitled to claim compensation for incidents that occurred even prior to the coming into force of section 357A(4) of Cr.P.C.

A question of seminal importance has arisen in this case. The query raised relates to the victim compensation scheme under Section 357A(4) of Cr.P.C. and its applicability. Is the provision retrospective or prospective in its application? To paraphrase the query: Would the victim, of a crime that occurred prior to 31.12.2009, be entitled to claim compensation under Section 357A(4) of the Cr. P.C.[Para No.1]

    The facts, though not relevant to be narrated in detail, is in a nutshell as follows:
Respondents 2 to 4 are the legal heirs of one late Sri.Sivadas. In a motor vehicle accident that took place on 26-03-2008, Sri. Sivadas succumbed to his injuries. Though a crime was registered by the Alappuzha Traffic Police, the accused could not be identified or traced and the trial has not taken place. In 2013, the legal heirs of late Sivadas applied to the District Legal Services Authority, Alappuzha, seeking compensation from the State under Section 357A(4) of the Code of Criminal Procedure, 1973 (for brevity 'the Cr.P.C').[Para No.2]

    Pursuant to the application, an enquiry, as contemplated under Section 357A(5) Cr.P.C, was conducted through the Additional District Judge, Alappuzha, who was appointed as the Enquiry Officer. The enquiry report was submitted on 12-09-2013. The report revealed that the applicants are the legal heirs of late Sivadas and that at the time of death he was aged 52 years and a casual labourer. It further stated that considering the circumstances, an amount of Rs.3,03,000/- (Rupees Three lakhs three thousand only) was sufficient compensation that could be awarded to the dependents of late Sri.Sivadas. On the above basis, the 1st respondent by Ext.P1 order, directed the State of Kerala to pay an amount of Rs.3,03,000/- to the dependents of late Sivadas under Section 357A(5) of the Cr.P.C. Ext.P1 is under challenge.[Para No.3]


    As a substantive law, the aforesaid statutory provision will have only prospective application. However, in the case of Section 357A(1)(4)&(5) Cr.P.C., there is a difference. Rehabilitation of the victim is the scope, purport and import of Section 357A(4) Cr.P.C., when read along with Section 357A (1) Cr.P.C. This is more explicit when understood in the background of the recommendation of the 154th report of the Law Commission of India. Rehabilitation of the victim was a remedial measure. It remedied the weakness in the then existing provisions for compensating the crime victims, especially to those victims, whose perpetrators had not been traced. The provision is remedial. Remedial statutes or provisions are also known as welfare, beneficent or social justice oriented legislation.[Para No.27]

    While interpreting a provision brought in as a remedial measure, that too, as a means of welfare for the victims of crimes, in which the perpetrators or offenders have not been identified and in which trial has not taken place, the Court must always be wary and vigilant of not defeating the welfare intended by the legislature. In remedial provisions, as well as in welfare legislation, the words of the statute must be construed in such a manner that it provides the most complete remedy which the phraseology permits. The Court must, always, in such circumstances, interpret the words in such a manner, that the relief contemplated by the provision, is secured and not denied to the class intended to be benefited.[Para No.28]

    While interpreting Section 357A(4) Cr.P.C., this Court cannot be oblivious of the agony stricken face of the victim and the trauma and travails such victims have undergone, especially when their offenders have not even been identified or traced out or a trial conducted. The agonizing face of the victims looms large upon this Court while considering the question raised for decision.[Para No.29]

    With the aforesaid principles hovering over Section 357A(4)&(5) Cr.P.C., the provision ought to be interpreted in such a manner that it benefits victims. If the said benefit could be conferred without violating the principles of law, then courts must adopt that approach. A substantive law that is remedial, can reckon a past event for applying the law prospectively. Such an approach does not make the substantive law retrospective in its operation. On the other hand, it only caters to the intention of the legislature.[Para No.30]

     In other words, when an application is made by a victim of a crime that occurred prior to the coming into force of Section 357A(4) Cr.P.C.,
Victims are entitled to claim compensation for incidents that occurred even prior to the coming into force of section 357A(4) of  Cr.P.C.
a prospective benefit is given, taking into reckoning an antecedent fact.
Adopting such an interpretation does not make the statute or the provision retrospective in operation. It only confers prospective benefits, in certain cases, to even antecedent facts. The statute will remain prospective in application but will draw life from a past event also. The rule against retrospectivity of substantive law is not violated or affected, merely because part of the requisites for action under the provision is drawn from a time antecedent to its passing. Merely because a prospective benefit under a remedial statutory provision is measured by or dependent on antecedent facts, it does not necessarily make the provision retrospective in operation.[Para No.31]

09 October 2020

Court of Sessions can permit u/s. 301, 24(8) of CrPC to the advocate of victim to make oral argument too apart from submission of the written argument

Advocate is treated to be officer of the court and supposed to assist the court in arriving the truth, so, right to address the court to an Advocate cannot be curtailed while representing his client

    In proviso added to Section 24(8) Cr.P.C., the word used are "assist the prosecution" and not to assist the public Prosecutor as mentioned in Section 301 Cr.P.C. There is difference in the scheme of two sections. From perusal of Sub-section 2 of section 301 Cr.P.C., made it clear that if in any case private person instruct a pleader to prosecute any person in any court even though the Public Prosecutor in charge of case shall conduct the prosecution and the pleader instructed shall act therein under the directions of the Public Prosecutor. Up to this stage no permission of court is needed for appointment of pleader by a private person. The permission is only required to the pleader if he want to file written argument in the case. However after insertion of proviso to Section 24(8) Cr.P.C., the court can permits a victims advocate to assist the prosecution. The status and position of Advocate engaged by the victim would be changed because in that situation the court at the very inception may permit the Advocate of the choice of the victim to participate in the proceeding and to assist the prosecution and not to the public prosecutor. Prosecution include investigation, enquiry, trial and appeal within the meaning of Section 24 Cr.P.C. Section 301 Cr.P.C., deals with only inquiry, trial or appeal. Inquiry has been defined in Section 2(g) Cr.P.C., means every inquiry, other than a trial, conducted under this Code by a Magistrate or Court. As such inquiry is different from investigation as defined in section 2(h) Cr.P.C.[Para No.39]

    Neither word prosecution nor trial has been defined in the Cr.P.C. Trial has been defined by the Apex Court in Union of India v. Major General Madan Lal Yadav [(1996) 4 SCC 127]. It means an act of proving or judicial examination or determination of the issues including its own jurisdiction or authority in accordance with law or adjudging guilt or innocence of the accused including all steps necessary thereto. Meaning of trial changes in view of specific provision of the code. The expression trial used in Section 306 Cr.P.C., includes both an inquiry as well as trial as held by the Apex Court in A. Devendran v. State of Tamilnadu (1997) 11 SCC 720.[Para No.40]

    The prosecution has not been defined specifically in the light of proviso to Section 24(8) Cr.P.C. The meaning of word prosecution as defined in Webster Dictionary, 3rd Edition is as follow;
"the carrying out of a plan, project, or course of action to or toward a specific end."[Para No.41]

Court of Sessions can permit u/s. 301, 24(8) of CrPC to the advocate of victim to make oral argument too apart from submission of the written argument
    The whole scheme if taken into consideration for prosecution and trial of an accused the dominant role is played by the public prosecutor but by insertion of proviso to Section 24(8) Cr.P.C., the Court is now authorised to permit the victim to engage a lawyer of his choice to assist the prosecution. The prosecution of an offender is virtually carried out in the court of law constituted under some statute presided over by a judge and not by any party to the proceedings. The public prosecutors, the advocate of the accused or special counsel appointed by the aggrieved person or the Advocate engaged by a victim, all are officers of the court. They all assist the court to arrive at truth during prosecution of an accused. Therefore in section 24 or in section 301 phrase with the permission of court is used. So, once the permission is accorded to the Advocate of the victim to assist the prosecution his assistance could not be restricted to the terminology of Section 301, i.e., only to assist the prosecutor. The court in view of the same can permit to advance the oral argument too to the Advocate engaged by the victim apart from submission of the written argument. The importance of oral argument cannot be out weight by saying that right to written argument has been given in Section 301 Cr.P.C.[Para No.43]

01 September 2020

Non-finding of injury upon the victim of rape does not necessarily mean that there is no rape

So far as regards the non-finding of injury upon the victim, as per the medical evidence, it is to be noted that injury is not a sine qua non for deciding whether rape has been committed or not. It has to be decided on the factual matrix of each case. The Hon'ble Apex Court in (2013) 11 SCC 688, Radhakrishna Nagesh - Vs- State of Andhra Pradesh, it has been held that penetration itself proves offence of rape, but contrary is not true, i.e.,even if there is no penetration, it does not necessarily mean that there is no rape. The Hon'ble Apex Court further held that absence of injuries would justify any adverse inference against prosecution. In (2014) 13 SCC 574; Krishan - Vs- State of Haryana, it was also held by the Hon'ble Apex Court that it is not expected that every rape victim should have injuries on her body to prove her case.[Para No.31]

Non-finding of injury upon the victim of rape does not necessarily mean that there is no rape
    The chastity of a woman ruined as soon as such offence is committed, while in a civilized society, respect or reputation is a basic right. No member of society can afford to conceive the idea that he can create a hollow in the honour of a woman. Such thinking is not only lamentable but also deplorable. Youthful excitement and an attempt for momentary pleasure on the part of a person upon a woman, had a devastating effect in the entire body and mind of the victim. It is to be kept in mind that such offence lowers the dignity of a woman and mars her reputation. The Courts are sensitized that rape is a violation of victim's fundamental right under Article 21 of the Constitution and rape victim is placed on a higher pedestal than an injured witness. Being the most hatred crime, rape tantamount to a serious blow to the supreme honour of a woman and is a crime against the entire society as well.[Para No.33]

29 August 2020

appeal u/s.372 of Cr.P.C. seeking enhancement of sentence at the instance of the victim, is not maintainable

Chapter XXIX of the Code of Criminal Procedure, 1973 deals with ‘Appeals’ and Section 372 makes it clear that no appeal to lie unless otherwise provided by the Code or any other law for the time being in force. It is not in dispute that in the instant case appellant has preferred appeal only under Section 372, Cr.PC. The proviso is inserted to Section 372, Cr.PC by Act 5 of 2009. Section 372 and the proviso which is subsequently inserted read as under:
“372. No appeal to lie unless otherwise provided. – No appeal shall lie from any judgment or order of a Criminal Court except as provided for by this Code or by any other law for the time being in force:
Provided that the victim shall have a right to prefer an appeal against any order passed by the Court acquitting the accused or convicting for a lesser offence or imposing inadequate compensation, and such appeal shall lie to the Court to which an appeal ordinarily lies against the order of conviction of such Court.” 
appeal u/s.372 of Cr.P.C. seeking enhancement of sentence at the instance of the victim, is not maintainable
  A reading of the proviso makes it clear that so far as victim’s right of appeal is concerned, same is restricted to three eventualities, namely, acquittal of the accused; conviction of the accused for lesser offence; or for imposing inadequate compensation. While the victim is given opportunity to prefer appeal in the event of imposing inadequate compensation, but at the same time there is no provision for appeal by the victim for questioning the order of sentence as inadequate, whereas Section 377, Cr.PC gives the power to the State Government to prefer appeal for enhancement of sentence. While it is open for the State Government to prefer appeal for inadequate sentence under Section 377, Cr.PC but similarly no appeal can be maintained by victim under Section 372, Cr.PC on the ground of inadequate sentence. It is fairly well settled that the remedy of appeal is creature of the Statute. Unless same is provided either under Code of Criminal Procedure or by any other law for the time being in force no appeal, seeking enhancement of sentence at the instance of the victim, is maintainable. Further we are of the view that the High Court while referring to the judgment of this Court in the case of National Commission for Women v. State of Delhi & Anr. (2010) 12 SCC 599 has rightly relied on the same and dismissed the appeal, as not maintainable.[Para No.9]

02 August 2020

School certificate or matriculation certificate be given the highest preference in determining age of accused or victim

Date of birth controversy - different date of birth mentioned in different documents i.e. school register, aadhar card, anganwadi kendra report, affidavit, voter list/ID etc. - which document has to be relied in determining the age of victim or accused?

    Since the central issue, at this stage, in the present case revolves around the question of determination of age of the victim based on divergent ages as indicated by three documents. Such a determination will naturally have a bearing on the culpability of the Petitioner herein in respect of the offences as outlined in the FIR. It is also noticed that such an issue, indicating conflicting date of birth recurringly comes up before this Court. It may not be out of place here to mention that the role of the State in such legislations at hand is like parens patriae. There seems to be a lot of divergence as to the age of a minor person or child which spread across 11 legislations from 14 years of age to 25 years depending on the purpose of the legislation. However, in so far as the Juvenile Justice Act and the POCSO Act are concerned, the age of majority is fixed at above 18 years. Therefore, an exercise must be undertaken to bring a quietus to such an issue in light of some leading precedents of the Supreme Court of India.[Para No.9]

    In Brij Mohan Singh v. Priya Brat Narain Sinha the Hon'ble Supreme Court held that the reason why an entry made by a public servant in a public or other official book, register, or record stating a fact in issue or a relevant fact has been made relevant is that when a public servant makes it in the discharge of his official duty, the probability of its being truly and correctly recorded is high. On the other hand, it was held that the same probability is reduced to a minimum when the public servant himself is illiterate and has to depend on somebody else to make the entry. In such case the evidentiary value of the document in question under Section 35 of the Evidence Act varies according to the maker thereof. In the case of Umesh Chandra v. State of Rajasthan it was held that oral evidence in respect of age has no value which could necessarily be proved only through documentary evidence. The court herein disbelieved a horoscope and relied upon the records maintained by the school. In Dayachand v. Sahib Singh the Hon'ble Court held that although the tendency of many to have lesser age recorded in school is well known and can be easily appreciated but cannot be accepted as the same was clearly in conflict with the medical evidence. Thus, in the said case medical evidence which observes the physical developments especially with regard to the bone structure formation opine a certain age which trumped the records in the school register. In the case of Vishnu v. State of Maharashtra the Hon'ble Apex Court has chosen to believe the date of birth as indicated in the birth register maintained by the Municipal Corporation and disregarded the date of birth as recorded by the school register. The reasoning to do so has been that the best evidence with regard to the age of the child is that of the parents of the child. It has further held that credence-worthy documentary evidence will prevail over expert witness of a doctor and even ossification test. In the case of Birad Mal Singhvi v. Anand Purohit it was has held that the entries regarding the date of birth contained in the school's register or Secondary School Examination have no probative value and that a person such as the parents of the child who have special knowledge in terms of Section 35 of the Evidence Act, with regard to the age of the child need to give evidence to that effect, in order to prove those documents which reflect the age. In the absence thereof such documents would be of no evidentiary value. In the case of Pradeep Kumar v. State of U.P. the court has relied upon the School certificate as well as the age indicated by medical examination as both of them were consistent and indicated the same age. In the case of Bhoop Ram v. State of U.P. the court disbelieved the medical opinion and instead chose to rely on the date of birth as occurring in the School certificate since the said document had not been disproved by any party and gave the accused the benefit of doubt. In the case of Bhola Bhagat v. State of Bihar the court held that since the object of such laws being socially oriented legislation and intended to be beneficial in nature. An obligation is cast on the court in such cases where a plea is raised with regard to the juvenility of the age of the accused to direct an enquiry to be held and seek a report in that regard. It further suggested that subordinate courts must be issued an administrative direction that whenever such a plea with regard to juvenility is raised. There being a doubt on the said question, it is incumbent upon the court to conduct an enquiry by giving the parties an opportunity to establish the respective claims in order to return a concrete finding with regard to the age. In Ramdeo Chauhan v. State of Assam it was held that in case the school register was not maintained by a public servant in discharge of his official duty, then such an entry would not have a binding evidentiary value. It also held that although medical opinion could not be said to be definitive but in cases where the court was grouping in the dark some amount of guidance could be sought from such an opinion and it could not be discarded altogether. In Ravinder Singh Gorkhi v. State of U.P. it was held that when a particular statute requires the age to be determined in a particular manner, no artificial division could be made between civil and criminal cases and a uniform standard of proof must be followed. The court must endeavor to strike a balance keeping in mind that a benevolent approach needs to be taken. In Babloo Pasi v. State of Jharkhand the court disbelieved the age reflecting in the voters list as no evidence was produced as to the materials based on which such an age had been entered into the said list. In Jitendra Ram v. State of Jharkhand dealing with the issue of juvenility under the Juvenile Justice Act it was held that in the absence of any concrete documentary evidence, it was incumbent upon the court to follow the procedure prescribed under the statute and obtain a medical opinion with regard to the age. In Jyoti Prakash Rai v. State of Bihar the court held that since the School certificate and the horoscope were found to be forged, the court had no other option but to rely on the medical opinion. However, while doing so, the court observed that medical opinion could not be taken to be conclusive but a margin of two years on either side had to be taken and that a better approach would be to take the average of the medical opinion issued by different medical opinions. In Pawan v. State of Uttaranchal the court was disinclined to believe the school leaving certificate which had been obtained after the conviction. In Hari Ram v. State of Rajasthan the court took note of the various provisions of the Juvenile Justice Act and opined that in case of any ambiguity with regard to the age, Rule 12 framed under the Act had to be taken recourse to in order to arrive at the age. In Raju v. State of Haryana the court directed that the age determination be done as per the provisions of the Juvenile Justice (Care and Protection of Children) Act, 2000 and the rules framed thereunder. In Shah Nawaz v. State of U.P. the court held that Rule 12 categorically provides that the medical opinion from the medical board should only be sought only when the matriculation certificate or school certificate or a certificate issued by a corporation are not available. That being the provision under the rules the court ought not to have overlooked the same especially when such a document was available on record and was credence worthy. In Om Prakash v. State of Rajasthan in an exception the Hon'ble Apex Court found the school certificate to be unreliable and went by the medical opinion as the same was based on scientific medical tests like ossification and radiological examination in order to determine the age of the juvenile. In Ashwani Kumar Saxena v. State of M.P. the court relied on the admission register of the school as clinching evidence. The reasoning that the parents would have given a wrong date of birth was taken to be a specious plea and disbelieved. It was also held that the issue of the juvenility could be raised at any point in time or at any stage of the proceedings. A similar view was taken in the case of Kulai Ibrahim v. State.[Para No.10]

    In Sunil v. State of Haryana in the absence of school leaving certificate and the basis on which the age was recorded in the school register not having been produced the court went by the age as opined by the report of the dentist who had conducted the examination. In State of M.P. v. Munna the court held that the X-ray report of the ossification test could not be believed as the doctor who conducted the examination and opined on the age was never examined and also noticing that in the absence of any other documentary evidence the age was not successfully established by the prosecution.[Para No.11]

    In Jarnail Singh v. State of Haryana, the court for the first time took a view that although Rule 12 deals with a child in conflict with law but by using the judicial tool of reading is held that the same could be extended to determine the age of the victim also. It is a landmark decision in the sense that for the first time the court took note that although there was the legislation in place to determine the age of the accused there was a vacuum with regard to the mode of determination of the age of the victim. Thus by necessary judicial construction it has been held authoritative leave that the same rule, i.e., Rule 12, would be applicable to determine the age of the victim as well. In State of M.P. v. Anoop Singh the court held that minor discrepancies existing amongst two documents is irrelevant as long as the other evidences on record point in a certain direction. In Mahadeo v. State of Maharashtra the court relied on a series of documents which indicated that the age was in a certain range based on the documents which were on record and credence worthy[Para No.12]

18 July 2020

There is no limitation period for 'victim' to file appeal against acquittal

Appeal u/s.372 by victim against acquittal - appeal by mother of deceased - definition of 'victim' - responsibility of the court recording acquittal

It is manifest that Section 372 of the Code relates to appeal from judgment or order of a Criminal Court. It gives to the victim the right to prefer an appeal against any adverse order passed by the trial Court. This amendment forms a part of the entire scheme under which the definition 'victim' was inserted by way of Section 2 (wa) of the Code, so as to allocate an active and constructive role to a victim of an offence in the judicial process arising from an offence.[Para No.8]

Section 2 (wa) of the Code defines the term 'victim' as to mean 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.[Para No.9]

The applicant herein is not only informant / complainant but the mother of deceased also who was allegedly done to death by respondent No.1- husband. The victim of crime, taken in the natural and ordinary sense, was the applicant's daughter. However, now that actual crime victim is no more, the question arises as to whether the applicant being her mother can be recorded as a victim.[Para No.10]

As per proviso to Section 372, an appeal by victim shall lie to the Court to which an appeal ordinarily lies against the order of conviction of such Court. That is to say appeal shall lie either before the Sessions Court or before the High Court, depending upon the Court which tried the case. No such statutory right existed prior to the amendment except under Section 378 (4) of the Code. Under Section 378 (4), a private party can challenge an acquittal by way of appeal only after getting special leave to appeal under Sub-Section (5) of Section 378 within six months if the complainant is a public servant, and within 60 days in every other case.[Para No.13]

There is no limitation period for 'victim' to file appeal against acquittal
We notice, however, that no period of limitation has been prescribed for the victim to prefer appeal against the judgment of acquittal in terms of proviso to Section 372 of the Code.[Para No.14]

It is common experience that in most of the cases informants are not so well educated or come from strata of society, lacking awareness and nuances involved in the proceedings. The semblance given to him/ her is that every care is taken by state machinery. This being so, he or she may not even know the outcome of the proceedings. Is it the duty of Public Prosecutor to ensure that the informant is informed about the judgment acquitting accused against whom he/ she had instituted the case?[Para No.28]

01 May 2020

Subsequent complaint can be clubbed with existing F.I.R.

F.I.R. made by the father of victim girl that she might have been kidnapped/abducted. After registration of FIR, complaint made by the victim girl about her sexual exploitation with detail incident.

   Can such complaint be clubbed with existing FIR?

   If the FIR lodged by her father is the skeleton, victim's complaint is the flesh and blood to it.

   If the investigating agency had taken a decision to club the subsequent complaint with earlier FIR it cannot be said that the investigating agency violated any provision of law. In fact, such clubbing was legally justified. 

 It is well settled that a first information report need not necessarily be lodged by the victim of a sexual offence. Any person having information of the offence can report. It is equally well settled that an FIR need not be an encyclopedia of all the facts and allegations describing an offence. The object of lodging a first information report is to report an offence, cognizable in nature, so that the matter is investigated and a police report is submitted in court to enable it to take cognizance and proceed against the accused.

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