Access To Justice And Fair Treatment For Victims In India The Primary Goal
A victim’s right in India's pre-trial stage is restricted to informing the relevant authorities of the transgression that had occurred. However, there is a monumental dearth of knowledge regarding the recourse that a victim may take to ensure the application of their complaint in India. They can go to higher authorities if the police at the first instance is lackadaisical in their approach and may even approach the nearest Magistrate. Post the FIR submission, their role regresses during the course of investigation. The position of these victims is worsened by them being held in ‘protective custody’ in jails or women shelters (nariniketans) on the pretext of further needed evidence . The value and worth of the victims significantly declines post filing of the complaint. With the expiration of their "usefulness", the aspect of victim handling and management is shunned.
Additionally, during pendency, the victim’s say has not been given great importance, rather than just of a witness. Under §321 of THE CODE OF CRIMINAL PROCEDURE, 1973, the victim may take back the prosecution suit even against societal reasons due to victim intimidation, which has led to constant falls in the conviction rates in India . The Courts have taken protective measures and invoking §406 of The CODE OF CRIMINAL PROCEDURE, 1973, by changing the location of the adjudicating court to one with a more conducive niche, if the magistrate sees fit .
Post investigation however, one sees a greater acknowledgment of the rights of the victim. The rights to appeal have been allowed by the victim or under Article 136 of the Indian Constitution, by special leave by a close relative.
Furthermore, The CODE OF CRIMINAL PROCEDURE (AMENDMENT) ACT, 2008, had seen some herculean improvements of the victims’ rights. Concomitant to several protection schemes for kinds of victims, the Act elucidated the need for counselling victims of several brutal offences and has provided provisions for its application.
However, there needs to be clarity regarding India’s judicial system, especially its better implementation in the present milieu. It envisages an adversarial system of law, where greater focus is placed on the determination of the facts and truth of the case and hence greater on the punishment domain. Therefore, from the victim’s point of view, there is greater reliance on the determination of truth, sometimes bordering hostility in its pursuit towards the victim. Notwithstanding the merits of such a school of judgment, the faux pas lies in the treatment of victims, not in the determination of truth and false. In most situations, due to a victim’s role being constricted to that of a witness, there remains no further association with the victim’s past. There needs to be a more humane approach towards the victim, which can only arise from realisations of the importance and more importantly the situation of the victim. There needs to a constructive difference in the treatment of the victims to account for a greater sensitised approach towards them to further better victim handling. Protection and betterment of life and personal liberty needs to be the aim that the State should strive to achieve.
Follow LexTalk World for more news and updates from International Legal Industry.