Whether Courts have a duty to advert to the question of awarding compensation to the victim and record reasons while granting or refusing relief to them?
The 154th Law Commission Report on the CrPC devoted an entire chapter to ‘Victimology’ in which the growing emphasis on victim’s rights in criminal trials was discussed extensively as under:
“1. Increasingly the attention of criminologists, penologists and reformers of criminal justice system has been directed to victimology, control of victimization and protection of victims of crimes. Crimes often entail substantive harms to people and not merely symbolic harm to the social order. Consequently the needs and rights of victims of crime should receive priority attention in the total response to crime. One recognized method of protection of victims is compensation to victims of crime. The needs of victims and their family are extensive and varied.
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9.1 The principles of victimology has foundations in Indian constitutional jurisprudence. The provision on Fundamental Rights (Part III) and Directive Principles of State Policy (Part IV) form the bulwark for a new social order in which social and economic justice would blossom in the national life of the country (Article 38). Article 41 mandates inter alia that the State shall make effective provisions for “securing the right to public assistance in cases of disablement and in other cases of undeserved want.” So also Article 51-A makes it a fundamental duty of every Indian citizen, inter alia ‘to have compassion for living creatures’ and to ‘develop humanism’. If emphatically interpreted and imaginatively expanded these provisions can form the constitutional underpinnings for victimology.
9.2 However, in India the criminal law provides compensation to the victims and their dependants only in a limited manner. Section 357 of the Code of Criminal Procedure incorporates this concept to an extent and empowers the Criminal Courts to grant compensation to the victims.
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11. In India the principles of compensation to crime victims need to be reviewed and expanded to cover all cases. The compensation should not be limited only to fines, penalties and forfeitures realized. The State should accept the principle of providing assistance to victims out of its own funds…”
The question then is whether the plenitude of the power vested in the Courts under Section 357 & 357-A, notwithstanding, the Courts can simply ignore the provisions or neglect the exercise of a power that is primarily meant to be exercised for the benefit of the victims of crimes that are so often committed though less frequently punished by the