"Penal laws of ancient communities are not the law of crimes, it is the law of
wrongs. The person injured proceeds against the wrong done by an ordinary civil
action and recovers compensation in the shape of money damages if he succeeds."~
Sir Henry James Sumner Maine
In ancient Hindu law, awarding compensation was treated as a Royal Right. In
recent years there has been a global awakening regarding the rights of victims,
who remain neglected by the law-makers. One of the most neglected subjects in
the study of crime is its victims. A victim of crime is a person who suffers any
loss or injury as a result of the crime. In our present judicial system where it
takes a number of years to decide a matter, the victim spends almost his whole
life especially and waits for justice.
That justice remains incomplete without
adequate compensation to the victim. The Victim Compensation Scheme somewhere
highlights the study of Jeremy Bentham's Utilitarianism Theory, which is based
on the principle of "greatest happiness to the greatest number." Although in the
19th Century Bentham himself in England received the concept of restorative
Why Compensation is necessary for the victims?
In today's time, criminal cases are becoming a contest between the accused and
the State. In the fight for hegemony between the State and the accused, the
victims' plight is often forgotten. The offender is apprehended, tried, punished
or absolved or even released on probation in certain situations, although found
guilty in the Court. But the victim remains the victim. Therefore, it needs the
moment for a criminal justice system to do something more than just punishing
When a person commits a crime, the sufferer tends to seek justice. It can be
sought in two ways:
- By only punishing the offender,
- By punishing the offender & Compensating the victim.
Hence, justice is complete when the victim is also compensated. To give complete
mental satisfaction to the victim, it is extremely essential to provide some
relief to him in the form of compensation.
Revolution of Victimology Movement
In the 20th century, particularly after the UN Declaration of Basic Principles
of Justice for Victims for Crimes & Abuse of Power, 1985, the victim's
perspective emerged in a new and powerful way. The UN Declaration recognised
four major needs of crime victims:
- Access to justice & Fair treatment,
- Compensation &
Victim Compensation Provisions in India
Compensation under CrPC, 1973
- Section-357 empowers a court imposing a sentence of fine or a sentence
(including a sentence of death) of which fine forms a part in its
Whereas Section-357(3) empowers the court to award compensation for loss or
injury suffered by a person, even in cases where fine does not form part of the
- The 154th Law Commission Report, 1996 on the CrPC devoted an entire chapter to
victimology in which the growing emphasis on victims rights in criminal trials
- Admits the increasing concern for compensation to victims of crime
Section-357A was inserted by the CrPC (Amendment) Act,2008 (w.e.f.31 Dec.2009)
on the recommendation of the Malimath Committee Report on 'Reforms of Criminal
Justice System,2008'. It also inserted Section-2(wa), Section-24(8) proviso &
- Section-357A provides that every State Government in coordination with
the Central Government shall prepare a scheme for providing funds for
compensating victims or their dependents who have suffered loss or injury
and require rehabilitation.
- If the trial court is satisfied that compensation awarded under
Section-357 is not adequate for such rehabilitation or where the case ends
in acquittal or discharge and the victim has to be rehabilitated, the court
may make recommendation for compensation
- When a recommendation is made by the court, the District Legal Service
Authority or State Legal Service Authority shall decide the quantum of
compensation to be awarded, under the scheme.
- Where the offender is not traced or identified or no trial takes place,
the victim or his dependents may apply to the State or District Legal
Service Authority for award of compensation.
- After due inquiry such authorities shall award adequate compensation by
completing the inquiry within two months. Such compensation can be awarded
even in the case of acquittal or discharge of the accused
- Section-357B & Section-357C were inserted by Act 13 of 2013 CrPC Amendment
- Section-357B provides that the compensation payable by the State
Government under Section-357A shall be in addition to the payment of fine to
the victim under Section- 326A, 376AB, 376D & 376DB of IPC, 1860.
- Section-357C provides that all hospitals, public or private, whether run
by Central Government, State Government, local bodies, or any other person
shall immediately provide the first-aid or medical treatment, free of cost
to the victims of any offence covered under Section - 326A, 376, 376A,
376AB, 376B, 376C, 376D, 376DA, 376DB or Section-376E of IPC,1860 and shall
immediately inform the police of such incident.
- Compensation to persons groundlessly arrested is under Section-358.
- The Government introduced the Central Victim Compensation Fund (CVCF) Scheme
to enable support to victims of rape, acid attacks, human trafficking, women
killed or injured in cross border firing. Nirbhaya Fund is being used in CVCF.
- The Supreme Court approached the National Legal Service Authority
Compensation Scheme for women victims or sufferer of sexual assault or other
crimes, 2018 as per which the minimum compensation should be 4 lakh rupee and said it will also
extend to minor victims.
Manish Jalan vs State of Karnataka (11 July 2008) - Supreme Court observed that
the quantum of compensation is to be determined by taking into account the
nature of crime, injury suffered and the capacity of convict to pay
compensation. Nevertheless, the amount of compensation should be reasonable.
Nipun Saxena vs Union of India (11 Dec. 2018) - By noting drawbacks of existing
schemes, the apex court found it fit to direct the National Legal Service
Authority (NALSA) to frame a scheme for victims of sexual offences including the
offences falling under the Protection of Children against Sexual Offences
S.S. Ahluwalia vs Union of India (16 March 2001) - The Supreme Court agreed in
principle that the Government should pay compensation to the family members of
the persons killed in the riot.
Hari Kishan vs Sukhbir Singh (25 Aug. 1988) - The apex court said awarding
compensation is a measure of responding appropriately to crime as well as
reconciling the victim with the offender.
Despite the Ministry of Home Affairs directive asking states to modify the
amount of compensation provided under Section-357A of CrPC, some States are yet
to amend their State Victim Compensation Scheme. The result of this is that the
amount of compensation a victim of an offence receives in one State varies
greatly from the amount a victim of the same offence would receive in another
State. In order to better restitution of victims, the other States law requires
to prepare a blueprint of victim compensation like Delhi Victim Compensation
There has been a great shift in the approach of the criminal justice system
towards victims of crime in India. Promoting victim friendly jurisprudence and
building a responsive and remedial system is the need of hour. To fill the gaps,
the Victim Compensation Scheme has been a bold attempt by the States to
compensate the losses or injuries suffered by the victims as well as meet the
needs of rehabilitation. However, the Schemes across the States have been seen
to be divergent on many aspects. Accordingly, orders must be made to provide the
best deal to the victim and simplicity of procedures must be emphasized upon and
imposition of burden on victims must be reduced.
Victim Compensation is emerging as a basic human right in morden criminology.
Right to restitution must be separated from the right to compensation. Both
terms have been used interchangeably in our criminal justice system, leading to
a larger degree of confusion. Victim Compensation Scheme must be revitalized by
revising in terms of accessibility and adequacy. Till now, presently a criminal
justice system focuses on two values of - Criminal Control & Due Process. But
there is a need to third value i.e. Victim Participation. Without such a value
the aim of justice will remain unfilled.
Written by Shashwata Sahu, Advocate - LLM, KIIT School Of Law