The Criminal Justice system in India is inherited and has continued to use criminal law which was codified by British. The rights of victims barely featured under the existing criminal law. Though there are legal provisions to avoid asking indecent, scandalous offensive questions, order payment of reasonable expenses incurred to victims. But practically victims are silent partners in the legal process and their role is restricted as a prosecution witness. Victim’s role ends after giving information to police and judiciary without any reparative and rehabilitative measures. Victim’s rights are always perceived as marginal and easily avoidable phenomena in legal proceedings.
Presently even in serious cases like Homicide, the victim’s family have to wait for a couple of years for justice and for that justice which is uncertain in nature. Whether a court acquits or releases the accused, the loss incurred to the victim’s family is beyond measure and remains untreated. This act of homicide pushes Victim’s family in immense troubles which remain unaddressed in whole judicial processes. When a person is the victim of homicide, not only he individually suffers but his whole family suffers as a victim of crime.
This sudden drastic change in their life affect family unit by many means. It causes mental trauma and feeling of emotional insecurity in parents, spouse, and children. It may lead then to physical and psychological illnesses especially in cases of old parents. Old parents struggle with the impact on their health and try to earn livelihood for themselves. Similarly homicide of main earner slaughters income source of family. It may result in discontinuation of education of children, child labour, and engagement in anti social sources of income. This school dropped out children work to support their single parent family and get exploited for mere wages. If there is family property or house or land, then sudden loss of shareholders creates a feeling of lure in other relatives. And there are chances of deprivation of the victim’s family from the share in the family property, which again may result in either conflict or exploitation. The homicide of victim exposes young spouse specially woman to social evils to sustain their family.
Above all there is no system or machinery or parallel wing of government to provide any guidance to cope with this situation along with information regarding legal proceedings and maintain follow up for effective rehabilitation. In a welfare state, it is the responsibility of the state to ensure security to all its citizens. Therefore the state only takes partial responsibility to prosecute an accused in court of law for his alleged offence to slay the victim and refuse responsibility to rehabilitate the victim’s family.
Government Assistance/ schemes are available for every possible category of person who needs support and protection for livelihood and upliftment. The victim’s family or individual member of the victim’s family falls under one or other category of this government scheme. But there is no recognition from the state itself to identify the Victim’s family as a special category and make them entitled to benefit from these schemes. Even if they are entitled as beneficiary under these schemes they lack in requisite documents or are caught up in cumbersome procedures and continue to struggle for survival.
Recently the Victim Compensation Scheme has been inserted by way of amendment in Criminal Procedure Code in 2008. This section covers the creation of funds for compensation to the victim or his dependents, the responsibility of the District and State Legal Services Authority to decide for the quantum of compensation, Victims rehabilitation despites acquittal or discharge of case, Compensation in cases where the offender is not traced or identified, immediate medical aid etc.
Maharashtra State Legal Services Authority (Letter No. MSLSA/2010/1534) has confirmed that though scheme is inserted it has not been implemented. The state government has not coordinated with the central government for the preparation of the scheme for compensation. The Maharashtra State government has not provided any funds to State Legal Services Authority in this regard. Similarly no recommendation for victim’s rehabilitation across Maharashtra state is received by Maharashtra State Legal Services Authority in last five years.
In today’s scenario the victim is not only the victim of crime but also of the criminal justice system. The plight and survival struggle of victims is forcing them to take law into their hands, which further victimizes them as offenders. Therefore there is an urgent need to take call of situation and urgently work for victim’s rehabilitation.