On November 29, 1985, the 96th Plenary of the United Nations recognized the
Declaration of the Basic Principles of Justice for Victims of Crime and Abuse of
Power, and the need to determine standards and norms in International law for
the protection of crime victims. The UN Declaration recognizes four key elements
of the rights of victims of crime.
Firstly, access to justice and fair treatment, secondly, rehabilitation or
restitution, thirdly compensation and fourth aid/assistance. The UN Declaration
binds member states in granting various rights to victims of crime in consonance
with the declaration.
The law on victim rights is still inadequate and not as per the declaration.
However, the provisions included in the Indian legal system are accompanied by
judicial decisions that take the shape of law. The various provisions of the
Indian legal system are a step towards the advancement of the rights of the
Rights under the Criminal Procedure Code
Under Cr.P.C victim means a person who has suffered any loss or injury as a
result of any action or omission done by the accused. The victim also means his
or her heir or guardian. Keeping this definition in mind the Code provides for
several protection and rights to victims.
Under Section 160 of the Code, a woman or man under the age of 15 shall not be
under an obligation to attend any place other than the place where such woman or
man resides. Although this provision does not apply to a woman or child who is
suspiciously selected, In the case of Nandini Satpathy, the Supreme Court
emphasized on the compelling nature of this requirement.
The Code under Section 439 mentions that the victim has an opinion in granting
bail to the accused. Section 439 (2) of the Code of Criminal Procedure, as
explained by the courts, gives the plaintiff or the aggrieved party the right to
move the High Court to get the bail granted to the accused, revoked. In S.A.
Kareem v. State of Karnataka
, The Supreme Court in Karnataka has acted at
the behest of the father of the police officer, who was killed by a gruesome
forest brigade and set aside a trial judge’s order to withdraw the prosecution.
According to Section 301 (2) of the Code, the lawyer of the private party must
act in accordance with the order of the Public Prosecutor and submissions may be
made by him in writing with the permission of the court after closing the
evidence. However, according to the Code of Criminal Procedure, the informant of
the victim or her lawyer will not be allowed to participate in the
Likewise, Section 162 of the Code of Criminal Procedure provides protection
against police intimidation. Under Section 25 of the Evidence Act 1872 the
statement of a witness to the police in the investigation is not admissible as
an evidence. Moreover, Section 163 of the Criminal Procedure attempts to protect
a witness from a persuasive threat or promise made or promised by a police
officer or other person in authority.
Under Section 311 of the Code of Criminal Procedure, a witness may be summoned
and re-examined if his evidence is deemed necessary for a fair decision of the
case. However, these circumstances are very rare even when the court finds that
the witness is subject to explicit threats and intimidation. Section 154 (2) of
the Code of Criminal Procedure provides for a copy of the FIR immediately and
freely to the victim / informant.
Following which under Section 154(3) if the police officer refues to take an
action on the FIR, the victim can inform the Superintended of Police.
Furthermore, If the complaint procedure fails, under section 190 of the Code of
Criminal Procedure, the victim may file a complaint to the Magistrate, who will
examine the complainant and investigate the case or conduct a direct inquiry by
the police. Sections 200 and 202 of the Criminal Procedure Code make it a
punishable offense for a public servant to fail to act on a complaint of a
member of a Scheduled Caste or Scheduled Tribe. And under Section 406 of the
Code of Criminal Procedure, the victim or plaintiff may apply to the Supreme
Court to transfer the trial to confirm and ensure free trial.
The Code of Criminal Procedure still does not cover entirely the rights of
victims. The code has proven in many respects that its provisions are not
adequate to meet the needs of the victim. This is the accusation of the common
people. When the victim escapes a crime and reports the victim to the police,
his sufferings begin again. He faces humiliation and loss of income at the hands
of the public, including police officers and lawyers. Specialy when the victim
is a woman.
Rights under other Legislations
Section 4 of the SC, ST (Prevention of Atrocities) Act, 1989 is an important
provision. This section provides that it is a punishable offense if a public
servant deliberately fails to comply with a complaint of a member of a Scheduled
Caste or Scheduled Tribe. Under this law, compensation is mandatory for victims,
and many other reliefs depending on the cruelty. Victims will get full
compensation from Rs 25 thousand to Rs. 2 lacs depending on the severity of the
As per Section 9 of the Evidence Act, the plaintiff shall not participate in the
investigation unless called upon to verify the identity of the accused after the
magistrate has taken cognizance of the case. Under the same Act Section 114A is
very significant. This section provide that when a woman who was raped says in
her evidence that she did not consent, it is to be presumed that she did not
Recognizing the need to preserve the dignity of the victim, some token
amendments have recently been made, repealing Section 155 (4), which allowed
impeachment, indicating the general immoral nature of the prosecutor. Section
228A of Evidence Act prohibits the disclosure of the identity of the victim in
any publication related to the crime. There are no provisions in law to make
camera trials mandatory when the victim is a child/woman.
Section 12 (1), 13 (1) of the Legal Services Authority Act, 1987 provide for
legal aid to victims. Although there are no provisions in the Criminal Procedure
Code to provide legal aid to the victims of crime, these section require that
every person filing or defending a case has the right to legal assistance. The
victim of a crime has the right to legal assistance at every stage of the case,
subject to the prima facie case and means test criteria.
Section 195-A of the Indian Penal Code states that threatening or inciting any
person to give false testimony is an offense punishable by up to seven years
imprisonment and is considered non-bailable offense. This response of the
government is temporary, it is not enough because it has failed to address all
the issues raised by the crime victims.
There are significant implications in the form of new laws to promote the cause
of the victims and reduce the suffering of women, children and the elderly who
are the weaker sections of the population. Laws recently passed by Parliament
have a decisive impact on the prevention and relief of victims.
The Protection of Women from Domestic Violence Act, 2005 is an essential act in
the field of promoting the rights of female victims. The Protection of Women
from Domestic Violence Act is a major tool of the women’s movement for the
protection of victims of domestic violence after years of struggle. The aim of
the law is to provide more effective protection of the rights of women
guaranteed by the Constitution.
The definition of domestic violence is adequate to include physical, sexual,
verbal and psychological abuse. A feature of this law is that the use or
enjoyment is prohibited on the basis of domestic contact, for an access to a
The police officer, protecton officer or magistrate who receives the domestic
violence complaint must inform the victim about the protection order or
financial relief order, custody order, stay order and the right to compensation.
If defendant violates the protection order then he is liable to one year in jail
or a fine. If the protection officer refuses to perform his duties, he can be
imprisoned for one year or fined Rs 20,000 or both.
Another important act, the Maintenance and Welfare of Parents, and Senior
Citizens Act is an innovative law aimed at protecting the elderly and preventing
adult abuse, which is a growing problem in many countries, including India.
Under this law, children or adult legal heirs are under an obligation to support
parents or senior citizens over the age of 60 to live a normal life that they
cannot sustain themselves from their own income. If the child or legal heirs
ignore or refuse the senior citizen, the tribunal may issue an order asking the
children or legal heirs to pay a monthly allowance for their care.
- Kumarvelu Chokalingam, ‘Measures for Crime Victims in the Indian
Criminal Justice System’ (2008) UNAFEI, available at:
- Nandini Satpathy v. P.L. Dani, (1978) SCC 424
- S.A. Karim v. State of Karnataka, (2000) 8 SCC 710
- S. Muralidhan, ‘ Rights of Victims in the Indian Criminal Justice
System’ (2004) IELRC, available at http://www.ielrc.org/content/a0402.pdf
- K. Chokalingam, supra.