By Apurva Rathee, Advocate


          During ancient times, victims had many rights and they used to play a crucial role in the criminal justice system. This was true during the reign of Hindu kings as well as the Muslim Period. Even though their system of criminal trial and punishment was harsh and in many cases absolutely barbaric (for instance, trial by ordeals), the main aim was to impart justice to the victims.

         However, with the emergence of the ‘adversarial system of justice’, the plight of the victims became worse and they became forgotten people except for their minor role in the criminal justice system as a prosecution witness. It was believed that the claim of the victim was sufficiently satisfied by the conviction and sentencing of the offender. This assumption is neither fair nor just. Justice demands that when society and the State are resorting to every possible measure of correction and rehabilitation of offenders, equal concern must be shown for the victims by at least providing compensation to them for their loss, agony, physical and mental torture.[1]

      It thus became important to gain knowledge about victims of crime, the struggles faced by such people in coping with the adverse effects of a criminal act, and how could the Justice System compensate and rehabilitate such victims.

     The study of victims or victimology is a relatively new field of academic research. Until few decades ago it would have been difficult to have found any criminological agency (official, professional, voluntary or other) or research group working in the field of victims of crime, or which considered crime victims as having any central relevance to the subject apart from being a sad product of the activity under study, i.e., criminality.[2]

      Victimology has from its inception adopted an interdisciplinary approach to its subject matter. The purpose of the study of victimology is:

  • to enhance our understanding regarding victims and impact of crime on them.
  • To analyse the magnitude of the victim’s problem
  • To explain causes of victimization, and
  • To develop a system of measures to reduce victimization.[3]

Victimology: Meaning, Nature and Scope

  • Meaning:

       Victimology may be defined as the scientific study of victimization, including the relationships between victims and offenders, the interactions between the victims and the criminal justice system; that is, the police and courts, and correctional officials. It also includes connections between victims and other social groups and institutions, such as the media, businesses and social movements.[4]

      In a narrow sense, victimology is empirical, factual study of victims of crime and as such is closely related to criminology and thus maybe regarded as a part of the general problem of crime.

       In broader sense, victimology is the entire body of knowledge regarding victims, victimization and the efforts of society to perverse the rights of the victim. Hence, it is composed of knowledge drawn from such fields as criminology, law, medicine, psychology, social work, politics, education and public administration.[5]

      The term ‘victim’ in general parlance refers to all those who experience injury, loss or hardship due to any cause and one of such causes maybe crime. Therefore, victimology may be defined as a study of people who experience injury or hardship due to any cause. It involves study of victim characteristics and maybe called ‘victim profiling’.[6]

  • Some Definitions:

Schultz (1970)-

“Victimology is the study of degree of and type of participation of the victim in the genesis or development of the offences and an evaluation of what is just and proper for the victim’s welfare.”

Drapkin and Viano (1974)-

“Victimology is the branch of criminology which primarily studies the victims of crime and everything that is connected with such a victim.”[7]

      Victimology has thus emerged as a branch of criminology dealing exclusively dealing exclusively with the victims of crime who need to be treated with compassion and rendered compensation and assistance under the criminal justice system.[8]

  • Nature:

  • Whether victimology is part of criminology?

      There is a constant strife on this topic. According to Kirchhoff, “there is a criminology that calls itself victimology when analyzing problems from a victim’s perspective.” But victimology is not criminological victimology. Historically, however, victimology bloomed in criminology but victimologists started asking different questions and they developed different strata of interests and explanations. Though victimology has close connection to the concept of crime, the focus of victimology is the victim and not the whole social structure and role of crime and criminal law in it. Hence, victimology is now evolved into an independent subject matter of study.[9]

  • The Science of victimology

      In the first symposium of Victimology held in Jerusalem it was stated that, “Victimology is the scientific study of victimization, including the relationships between victims and offenders, the interactions between victims and the criminal justice system- that is, the police and courts and the correctional officials, and the connection between victims and other societal groups and institutions, such as the media, businesses and social movements.[10]

      Victimology as a science cannot be isolated from reality, even difficult realities. Science needs to go beyond the purely observable ‘fact’ of victimization. Therefore, victimology as a science requires an analysis and interpretation of victimization.

  • Whether victimology is science or service?

      The Vienna Declaration on Crime and Justice in 2000 declared that “We establish 2000 as a target date for states to review their relevant practices, to develop further victim support services and awareness campaigns on the rights of victims and to consider establishment of funds for the victims, in addition to developing and implementing witness protection policies.”[11] Thus, victimology is also a service.

  • Whether victimology is blaming the victim?

      One aspect of victimology is blaming the victim for his own plight. However, most victimologists reject theories of “victim blaming”. They simply explore the process of victimization with the goal of understanding it and preventing it.

  • Scope of Victimology

      The victim is the forgotten party in the criminal justice system. It would be factually wrong if this type of criticism would still be maintained today.[12] Victimology has come of age. Victims, their needs and their rights, are being consistently acknowledged in words, if not in deeds.

  1. Victimology is study of crime from victim’s point of view:

      Victimology is study of crime from victim’s point of view. After the Second World War the plight of victims was seriously considered by many criminologists in Europe. B. Mendelsohn developed this branch of criminology as there was growing concern for the plight of victims of all crime. The First International Conference on Victimology under the auspices United Nations was held in Jerusalem in the year 1973 followed by another conference in Boston in 1976. There are many seminars and studies on victimology at the regional, national and international level highlighting the problems of victims, legal position of victims in criminal proceedings, compensation for victims.[13]

  1. Victimology analysis the victim-offender relations and the interactions between victims and the criminal justice system:

      The process of being a victim involves two dimensions, individual and societal. It is therefore incumbent upon victimology to develop theoretical models that cut across levels of analysis and which incorporate the dynamics of normal social intercourse as a basis of understanding how victims cope and in addressing victim needs. There are three interfacing roles:

  • Victim
  • Persecutor
  • Rescuer

      The victim requires a ‘persecutor’ the one who victimizes and the process is complete when there is a ‘rescuer’, one who saves the persecutor.

  1. Victim of abuse of power:

      Term ‘victim of abuse of power’ is such a broad and ambiguous concept that sometimes it is argued that this concept includes, for example, abuse of power between States or between races, and even economic exploitation of employees and consumers by large enterprises. An important object of the criminal justice system is to ensure justice to the victims, yet he/she is not given any substantial right, not even to participate in the criminal proceedings. To achieve this goal, training and education in victimology by trained professionals of criminal justice will help.[14]

      ‘Declaration of Basic Principles of Justice for Victims of Crime and Abuse of Power’ (UN, 1985) also defines the victims of abuse of power like the victims of crime. The suffering through impairment of fundamental rights is included. The Declaration makes it clear that far more victimization occurs as a result of the actions of governments and business institutions than ever arises from what are defined as crimes under national laws.[15]

  1. Victimology is study of restitution and compensation of the damages caused to the victim by the perpetrator of crime:

      Modern state is a welfare state in which the welfare of its citizens is of paramount importance. With new developments in the field of victimology, the victims of crime have assumed a significant role. Now, efforts are made to provide restitution to the victims. Compensation is given with the object of making good the loss sustained by the victims or the legal representatives of the deceased.

  1. Victimology is the study of Victimological clinic:

      If we look at clinical victimological work, the treatment of victims, we have not only to look at hospitals; we have to look at whole array of victim assistance organizations who are actively working to alleviate the burden of victimization.

      Thus, it is important to understand:

  • Victim’s crime-related mental health problems
  • What aspects of the criminal justice system process are stressful to victims?
  • What can be done to help victims with their crime-related health problems and stress regarding the criminal justice system?[16]

Concept of Victim

      The UN Convention on Justice and Support for Victims of Crime and Abuse of Power defines the victims in Article 1 as

“(1) ‘Victims’ means natural persons who, individually or collectively, have suffered harm, including physical or mental injury, emotional suffering or economic loss or violations of fundamental rights in relation to victimizations identified under ‘scope’.

(2) A person is a victim regardless of whether the crime is reported to the police, regardless of whether the perpetrator is identified, apprehended, prosecuted or convicted and regardless of the familial relationship between the perpetrator and victim. The term ‘victim’ also includes, where appropriate, the immediate family or dependents of the direct victims and persons who have suffered in intervening to assist victims in distress or to prevent victimization.”[17]

      In Section 2 (wa) of the Code of Criminal Procedure, 1973, “Victim means a person who has suffered any loss or injury caused by reason of the act or omission for which the accused person has been charged and the expression victim includes his or her guardian or legal heir.”[18]

Classification of Victim:

(i) Primary Victim

       Any person, group or entity who has suffered injury, harm or loss due to illegal activity of someone is called a primary victim. The harm may be physical, psychological or financial.

(ii) Secondary Victim

      There may also be secondary victim who suffer injury or harm as a result of injury or harm to the primary victim.

(iii) Tertiary Victim

      Tertiary victim are those who experience harm or injury due to the criminal act of the offender. He is another person besides the immediate victim, who is victimized as a result of the perpetrator’s action.

      Example, in case of rape, the woman raped is the primary victim, while a child, if born out of such rape, is the secondary victim because he/she suffers from lack of paternity. But the general shame and disgrace which the entire family of the raped victim has to suffer at the hands of the society and the system makes them tertiary victims. However, it cannot be assumed that secondary and tertiary victims are less traumatized than the primary victims.[19]

Abdel Fattah’s mode of classification of victims:

      The noted Canadian Criminologist, Abdel Fattah has classified victims of crime into five categories as follows:

  • Non-participating victims are those who are completely innocent. For example, foeticide, a crime against being born, which is punishable under Sections 315/ 316 of the Indian Penal Code, 1860.
  • Latent victims are those who have fallen prey to a crime but do not know that they are in any way affected by it, example, blackmailing
  • Provocative victims example, victims of dowry death who are provoked by the offender to commit suicide
  • Participating victims example, prostitution, cyber crimes on internet
  • Retaliating victims. Certain crimes by their very nature are such that the victim does not readily yield to the offence and retaliates to the extent possible to see that the offence is not committed by the perpetrator, but eventually fails in his effort to avoid the occurrence of crime. Example, victims of robbery, etc.[20]

Impact of Victimization:

       The impact of crime on victim may be physical, financial or psychological.

  • Physical Impact:

      The victim is likely to experience a number of physical reactions to crime to which he has fallen a victim. The victim may also suffer from mental trauma. Another significant impact on the victim is physical injury which may be apparent and immediate or may be realized by the victim at a later stage.

  • Financial Impact:

       The financial impact of crime on the victim may be in any one or more of the following forms:

  1. Costs and expenses incurred in medical treatment for physical injuries
  2. Damages to property or articles in possession
  3. Litigation cost incurred in fighting against the crime and criminal, i.e. the perpetrator
  4. Financial suffering due to loss of earnings
  5. Funeral or burial expenses, if any.
  • Psychological Impact:

      Where the victim is confronted with the crime perpetrator immediate reaction will be anger or fear depending on his strength and capacity to face the misfortune. Shock and mental trauma follow immediately after the crime has been committed, for example, the Post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD).

      The psychological impact of victimization is clearly reflected in the behavioural responses of the crime victim, which may include increased alcoholism, excessive use of drugs, avoidance of social relationships and social withdrawal, etc. This is very much true in case of rape victims when people blame her for having walked alone or dressed provocatively.

      There may, however, be some victims who are able to shed aside their distress and shock and return to normal life.[21]

Emerging Trends in Victimology

International Position:

      The Declaration of Basic Principles of Justice for Victims of Crime and Abuse of Power (UN General Assembly, 1985), considered the ‘magna carta’ for victims, provides the basic framework of principles which in the last two decades have been vociferously debated and converted as victims’ rights by some of the developed countries. The international standards expected of the countries in the treatment of victims have been elaborately detailed in the UN Handbook on Justice for Victims.[22]

      The newly generated interest in crime victims has led to certain trends and policies, some of them are as follows:

  • It is being increasing realized that the victim must be treated with dignity and respect by the criminal law agencies, viz. The police and the courts. Often secondary victimization results because of the indifferent and callous attitude not only of the criminal law agencies but also of the people in vicinity, hospitals and mass media as well. In the USA and some European countries, statutory guidelines in the form of “Victims Bill of Rights” are being provided.
  • A victim has hardly any role in the criminal justice system though there is an increasing awareness now that the victim must be given rightful participation in the trial. For instance, in USA under the Witness Protection Act, 1982, victims are to be consulted in the plea bargaining process. In Germany, compensation is now payable to a victim if the charges are dropped against an offender.
  • Innovative use is being made of certain sentencing techniques like probation to provide relief to the victims. An offender, in appropriate circumstances, may be released on probation, if willing to compensate the victim. For instance, in England, under the Criminal Justice Act, 1982, as amended in 1988, the court must specify the reasons for not making an order for compensation.
  • In certain kinds of situations where the guilt of the offender is clear, efforts are made to bring the victim and wrong-doer together in order to lead them to agreement or adjustment for the restoration of losses to the victim, there being a greater potential in this kind of approach rather than the mere punishment of the offender.[23]

Position in India:

      The police play a pivotal role in victim assistance as it is the first agency victims come into contact with after being victimized by a crime. The attitude of the victims towards the entire criminal justice system will be based on the kind of treatment the victims get from the police whom they first encounter. Unfortunately, in India the police are still not oriented to meet the expectations of the victims as per the UN Handbook on Justice for Victims. The police at the field level who are in actual contact with the victims in day–to-day crime situations are blissfully ignorant of the international developments in the field of Victimology and the better treatment victims deserve from the police.

      The UN Handbook says that “victims have a valid interest in the prosecution of the case and should be involved at all stages of the proceedings”. In practice, the entire court proceedings protect the rights and interest of the accused, neglecting the victims’ interest. Excepting that the victims are summoned to tender evidence in courts, the various services and assistance to be rendered by the prosecution to victims are not practiced in the criminal courts in India. With regard to the role of the judiciary in justice for victims, though judges are by and large sympathetic towards victims, on many of the requirements, such as separate waiting halls, information about the criminal proceedings, special services and support, ordering of restitution to victims, victim participation, victim protection etc. we have a long way to go to realize victim justice in India.

However, in the last decade, there is greater awareness on the part of the higher judiciary of the need for a better treatment of crime victims by the criminal justice agencies at different stages in India and this is reflected in the recommendations of the different committees and commissions calling for reforms in the criminal justice system.[24]

Affirmative Action by the Higher Judiciary

  • Restitution to Victims– Despite the absence of any special legislation to render justice to victims in India, the Supreme Court has taken a proactive role and resorted to affirmative action to protect the rights of victims of crime and abuse of power. The court has adopted the concept of restorative justice and awarded compensation or restitution or enhanced the amount of compensation to victims, beginning from the 1980s.[25]
  • Justice for Rape Victims – Guidelines for Victim Assistance in Bodhisattwa Gautam v. Subhra Chakraborty,[26] the Supreme Court held that if the court trying an offence of rape has jurisdiction to award compensation at the final stage, the Court also has the right to award interim compensation. The court, having satisfied the prima facie culpability of the accused, ordered him to pay a sum of Rs.1000 every month to the victim as interim compensation along with arrears of compensation from the date of the complaint. It is a landmark case in which the Supreme Court issued a set of guidelines to help indigenous rape victims who cannot afford legal, medical and psychological services, in accordance with the Principles of UN Declaration of Justice for Victims of Crime and Abuse of Power, 1985:
  1. The complainants of sexual assault cases should be provided with a victim’s Advocate who has to explain to the victim the proceedings, and to assist her in the police station and in Court and to guide her as to how to avail of psychological counselling or medical assistance from other agencies;
  2. Legal assistance at the police station while she is being questioned;
  3. The police should be under a duty to inform the victim of her right to representation before any questions are asked of her and the police report should state that the victim was so informed;
  4. A list of Advocates willing to act in these cases should be kept at the police station for victims who need a lawyer;
  5. The Advocate shall be appointed by the Court, in order to ensure that victims are questioned without undue delay;
  6. In all rape trials, anonymity of the victims must be maintained;
  7. It is necessary, having regard to the Directive Principles contained under Article 38(1) of the Constitution of India, to set up a Criminal Injuries Compensation Board. Rape victims frequently incur substantial financial loss. Some, for example, are too traumatized to continue in employment;
  8. Compensation for victims shall be awarded by the Court on conviction of the offender and by the Criminal Injuries Compensation Board whether or not a conviction has taken place. The Board will take into account pain, suffering and shock as well as loss of earnings due to pregnancy and the expenses of childbirth if this occurred as a result of the rape.
  • State Compensation for Victims of Abuse of Power– As early as 1983, the Supreme Court recognized the need for state compensation in cases of abuse of power by the State machinery. In the landmark case of Rudul Shah v. State of Bihar,[27] the Supreme Court ordered the Government of Bihar to pay to Rudul Shah a further sum of Rs.30,000 as compensation, which according to the court was of a “palliative nature”, in addition to a sum of Rs.5,000, in a case of illegal incarceration of the victim for long years. Similarly in Saheli, a Women’s Resources Centre through Mrs . Nalini Bhanot v. Commissioner of Police, Delhi Police,[28] the Court awarded a sum of Rs.75, 000 as state compensation to the victim’s mother, holding that the victim died due to beating by the police.
  • Victims right to challenge bail– In Puran v. Rambilas[29] and P. Rathinam v. State[30], the Apex Court interpreted Section 439 (2) Cr.P.C. in a way that the victim has a say in the grant of bail to an accused. The Court recognized the right of the complainant or any ‘aggrieved party’ to move the High Court or the Court of Sessions for cancellation of a bail granted to the accused.

Recommendations of Commissions and Committees on Justice to Victims in India

      During the last decade, there has been significant change in the thinking of the judiciary about the human rights of victims. The concern of the courts and the judicial commissions and committees about the need to have a law on victim compensation or a comprehensive law on victim justice has been reflected in their judgments and reports.

  • The Law Commission of India, 1996

      The Law Commission, in its report in 1996, stated that, the State should accept the principle of providing assistance to victims out of its own funds,

  1. in cases of acquittals; or
  2. where the offender is not traceable, but the victim is identified; and
  3. also in cases when the offence is proved
  • The Justice Malimath Committee on Reforms of Criminal Justice System

      The Justice V. S. Malimath Committee has made many recommendations of far-reaching significance to improve the position of victims of crime, including the victim’s right to participate in cases and to adequate compensation. Some of the significant recommendations include:

  1. The victim, and if he is dead, his legal representatives shall have the right to be impleaded as a party in every criminal proceeding where the charge is punishable with 7 years imprisonment or more.
  2. The victim has a right to be represented by an advocate of his choice, provided that if the victim is not in a position to afford a lawyer, the State would provide him with so.
  3. The victim’s right to participation in a criminal trial shall, inter alia, include:
  4. To produce evidence, oral or documentary, with leave of the court and/or to seek directions for production of such evidence
  5. To ask questions to the witnesses or to suggest to the court questions which may be put to the witnesses
  6. To know the status of investigation and to move the court to issue directions for further investigation on certain matters or to a supervisory officer to ensure effective and proper investigation to assist in search of truth
  7. To be heard in respect of the grant or cancellation of bail
  8. To be heard whenever prosecution seeks to withdraw
  9. To advance arguments after the prosecutor has submitted arguments
  10. To participate in negotiations leading to settlement of compoundable offences
  11. The victim shall have a right to prefer an appeal against any adverse order passed by the court acquitting the accused, convicting him for a lesser offence, imposing inadequate sentence or granting inadequate compensation
  12. Victim compensation is a State obligation in all serious crimes, whether the offender is apprehended or not, convicted or acquitted. This should be organized in a separate legislation by the Parliament.
  13. The victim compensation law will provide for the creation of a Victim Compensation Fund to be administered possibly by the Legal Services Authority.[31]

Amendments to the Code of Criminal Procedure in 2008:

      The Code of Criminal Procedure was amended to bring in various victim-friendly provisions, such as:

  • Definition of Victim

      The definition of Victim was added in Section 2 (wa), which states that, “Victim means a person who has suffered any loss or injury caused by reason of the act or omission for which the accused person has been charged and the expression ‘victim’ includes his or her guardian or legal heir.”

  • Victim’s right to engage his advocate

      Section 24 (8) gives the victim the right to engage his advocate, “provided that the Court may permit the victim to engage an advocate of his choice to assist the prosecution.”

  • Recording of statement of rape victim under Section 157

      In Section 157, a proviso has been inserted after sub-section (1), “Provided further that in relation to an offence of rape, the recording of statement of victim shall be conducted at the residence of the victim or in the place of her choice and as far as practicable by a woman police officer in the presence of her parents or guardians or near relatives or social worker of the locality.” Section 309 (1) after amendment states that the inquiry and trial should be completed within 2 months.

      Section 327, has been amended to the following effect, “Provided further that in camera trial shall be conducted as far as practicable by a woman judge or magistrate.” Also that publication of trial proceedings relating to rape cases shall be prohibited, however, the ban on printing or publication can be lifted, subject to maintaining confidentiality of name and address of the party.

  • Investigation within three months in case of Child Rape

      Section 173 (1A) provides that, “The investigation in relation to rape of a child may be completed within three months from the date on which the information was recorded by the officer in charge of the police station.”[32]

  • Compensation to victims

      Section 357 (1) and Section 357 (3) Cr.P.C. vest power in the trial court to award compensation to victims of crime whereas similar power is vested in the Appellate and Revisional Court under sub-section (4). The Court may appropriate whole or any portion of the fine recorded from the offender to be paid as compensation to the victim of crime.

      This compensation may be for costs, damage or injury suffered or loss caused due to death or monetary loss incurred due to theft or destruction of property, etc.

      Sub-section (3) empowers the court, in its discretion, to order the accused to pay compensation to victim of his crime, even though no fine has been imposed on him.[33]

      Section 357-A has been inserted after the 2008 Amendment, it provides that:

Section 357-A Victim Compensation Scheme– (1) Every State government in co-ordination with the Central Government, shall prepare a scheme for providing funds for the purpose of compensation to the victim or his dependants who have suffered loss or injury as a result of the crime and who require rehabilitation.

(2) Whenever recommendation is made by the Court for compensation, the District Legal Services Authority or the State Legal Services Authority, as the case may be, shall decide the quantum of compensation to be awarded.

(3) If the trial court, at the conclusion of trial is satisfied, that the compensation awarded under Section 357 is not adequate for such rehabilitation, or where the cases end in acquittal or discharge and the victim has to be rehabilitated, it may make recommendation for compensation.

(4) Where the offender is not traced or identified, but the victim is identified, and where no trial takes place, the victims or his dependants may make an application to the State or the District Legal Services Authority for the award of compensation.

(5) On receipt of such recommendation or on the receipt of application under sub-section (4), the State or the District Legal Services Authority shall, after due enquiry, award adequate compensation after completing the enquiry within 2 months.

(6) The said authority, to alleviate the suffering of the victim, may order for immediate first aid facility or medical benefits to be made available free of cost on the certificate of police officer not below the rank of officer in charge of the police station or a magistrate of the area concerned, or any other interim relief as the authority may deem fit.”

      The scheme contained in the section is indeed a progressive measure to ameliorate the woes of crime victims and providing them restorative justice.

      The Code also provides compensatory relief to victims of unlawful arrest or detention by police without sufficient cause.[34]

      Where an accused is convicted of a non-cognizable offence on a complaint, the court may order him to pay costs to the complainant or in default, suffer simple imprisonment for a period not exceeding thirty days.[35]

  • Victim’s right to appeal

      Proviso to Section 372 gives right of a private appeal to a victim, thus providing the victim with a locus standi, however, the right to appeal against inadequacy of punishment is available only on two grounds:

  • If accused has been convicted for a lesser offence, example, he was convicted for robbery instead of dacoity
  • If inadequate compensation is given.
  • The victim, however, cannot appeal on quantum of punishment.

The Criminal Law (Amendment) Act, 2013

      The Criminal Law (Amendment) Act, 2013 is a result of the Justice Verma Committee Report which dealt in the rape laws and their amendment. This Committee was constituted in the aftermath of the brutal Delhi Gang rape case of 16th December 2012.

      The Committee recommended that the gradation of sexual offences should be retained in the Indian Penal Code, 1860 (IPC).

      The Committee was of the view that rape and sexual assault are not merely crimes of passion but an expression of power.  Rape should be retained as a separate offence and it should not be limited to penetration of the vagina, mouth or anus.  Any non-consensual penetration of a sexual nature should be included in the definition of rape.

      The IPC differentiates between rape within marriage and outside marriage.  Under the IPC sexual intercourse without consent is prohibited.  However, an exception to the offence of rape exists in relation to un-consented sexual intercourse by a husband upon a wife.  The Committee recommended that the exception to marital rape should be removed.  Marriage should not be considered as an irrevocable consent to sexual acts.  Therefore, with regard to an inquiry about whether the complainant consented to the sexual activity, the relationship between the victim and the accused should not be relevant.[36]  However, non-consensual sexual act within marriage is still not made punishable, even though the amount of punishment has been increased.

      The Indian Penal Code (IPC) was amended to provide death penalty in rape cases that cause death of the victim or leave her in a vegetative state.[37] The Act also introduced several other new offences such as causing grievous injury through acid attacks, sexual harassment, use of criminal force on a woman with intent to disrobe, voyeurism and stalking.

      In the case of State (Govt. of NCT of Delhi) v. Ram Singh (deceased), Mukesh, Akshay Kumar Singh, Vinay Sharma and Pawan Kumar,[38] Shri Yogesh Khanna, Additional Sessions Judge, New Delhi, awarded death penalty to the accused person as the facts showed a brutality of such a nature that it fell into the category of rarest of rare cases, the entire intestine of the prosecutrix was perforated, splayed and cut open due to repeated insertions of rods and hands. The convicts, in the most barbaric manner, pulled out her internal organs with their bare hands as well as by the rods and caused her irreparable injuries, thus exhibiting extreme mental perversion not worthy of human condonation. They brutally gang raped the prosecutrix, inflicted inhuman torture and threw the defenceless victims out of the moving bus in naked condition, profusely bleeding in a cold winter night.

      The Court further held that, “These are the times when gruesome crimes against women have become rampant and courts cannot turn a blind eye to the need to send a strong deterrent message to the perpetrators of such crimes. The increasing trend of crimes against women can be arrested only once the society realize that there will be no tolerance from any form of deviance against women and more so in extreme cases of brutality such as the present one and hence the criminal justice system must instil confidence in the minds of people especially the women. The crime of such a nature against a helpless woman, per se, requires exemplary punishment.”[39]

      Another amendment is the addition of Section 326 A regarding the acid attacks, the proviso clearly states that the fine which is imposed on the convict shall be such that it is just and reasonable to meet the medical expenses of the treatment of the victim of acid-attack. Such fine shall be imposed directly to the victim.

      In the Code of Criminal Procedure Section 357 B and Section 357 C have been added.

Section 357B Cr.P.C. provides that, “The compensation provided under Section 357 A shall be in addition to the payment of fine to the victim under Section 326A or Section 376D of the Indian Penal Code.”

Section 357C Cr.P.C. provides that all hospitals, whether public or private, run by Central Government or State Government, local bodies or any other person, shall immediately provide the first-aid or medical treatment, free of cost, to the victim of any offence under Section 326 A, Section 376, Section 376 A to E of the Indian Penal Code, and shall immediately inform the police of such incident.

Other enactments regarding benefits to victims

  • The Protection of Women from Domestic Violence Act, 2005

      This Act is a major achievement of the women’s movement towards protection of domestic violence victims after a struggle of 16 years. This Act aims to provide for more effective protection of the rights of women guaranteed under the Constitution. The definition of domestic violence is wide enough to include physical, sexual, verbal and emotional abuse. The unique feature of the Act is that it prohibits denying the victim “continued access to resources or facilities which the aggrieved person (victim) is entitled to use or enjoy by virtue of the domestic relationship, including access to the shared household”. A police officer, protection officer or a magistrate who has received a complaint of domestic violence has a mandatory duty to inform the victim of her right to obtain a protection order or an order of monetary relief and other rights.

  • The Maintenance and Welfare of Parents and Senior Citizens Act, 2007

      This is also an innovative law aiming to protect elders and prevent elder abuse and victimization, which is a growing problem in many countries, including India. Under this law, an obligation is created of the children or adult legal heirs to maintain their parents, or senior citizens above the age of 60 years who are unable to maintain themselves out of their own earnings, to enable them to lead a normal life. If children or legal heirs neglect or refuse to maintain the senior citizen, the Tribunal can pass an order asking the children or legal heirs to make a monthly allowance for their maintenance.

  • Protection of Children from Sexual Offences Act, 2012

      This Act has been enacted with a view to prevent of child abuse and victimization. It makes any kind of sexual gratification from a child punishable with strict punishments.

  • Prevention of Caste-Based Victimization and Protection for Victims

      The Scheduled Castes and the Scheduled Tribes (Prevention of Atrocities) Act, 1989 is an act to prevent atrocities against the members of the Scheduled Castes and Scheduled Tribes. Under this Act, compensation to victims is mandatory, besides several other reliefs depending on the type of atrocity. The victims are entitled to receive monetary compensation ranging from Rs. 25,000 to 200,000 depending on the gravity of the offence.[40]

  • Motor Vehicles Act, 1988

      The victims of vehicular accidents or their legal representatives are entitled to compensation from the offender under Section 5 of the Act.

Photo Credits

[1] Randhawa, Gurpreet Singh, Victimology and Compensatory Jurisprudence, 1st Ed., Central Law Publications, Allahabad, 2011, p. 123

[2] Williams, Katherine, S., Textbook on Criminology, 3rd Ed., Universal Law Publishing Co. Pvt. Ltd., New Delhi, 2001 (Indian Reprint), p. 98

[3] Randhawa, supra note 1, p. 32

[4] Paranjape, Dr. N.V., Criminology and Penology with Victimology, 15th Ed., Central Law Publications Ltd., Allahabad, 2011, p. 663

[5] Randhawa, supra note 1, p. 42

[6] Paranjape, supra note 4, p. 663

[7] Randhawa, supra note 1, p. 43

[8] Paranjape, supra note 4, p. 663

[9] Randhawa, supra note 1, pp. 37-38

[10] Ibid., p. 38

[11] Vienna Declaration on Crime and Justice: Meeting the challenges of the Twenty-First Century, General Assembly Resolution A/55/593, 17.01.2001, Para 21

[12]Lehner-Zimmerer, Michaela, Future Challenges of International Victimology, African Journal of Criminology and Justice Studies, Volume 4, No. 2, April 2011, p. 14 (Available at:

[13] Randhawa, supra note 1, pp. 44-45

[14] Randhawa, supra note 1, p. 45

[15] Declaration of Basic Principles of Justice for Victims of Crime and Abuse of Power (UN, 1985)

[16] Randhawa, supra note 1, pp. 47-48

[17] Available at:

[18] Section 2(wa) of the Code of Criminal Procedure, 1973 [Inserted by Amendment Act of 2009 Act 5 of 2009)]

[19]Paranjape, supra note 4, p. 666

[20] Ibid., p. 668-69

[21] Paranjape, supra note 4, pp. 671-72

[22] Chockalingam, Kumaravelu, Measures for Crime Victims in the Indian Criminal Justice System, Resource Material Series No. 81 , p. 101

(Available at:

[23] Siddique, Ahmad, Criminology, 5th Ed., Eastern Book Company, Lucknow, 2005, p. 556

[24] Chockalingam, supra note 22, p. 102

[25] Sukhdev Singh v. State of Punjab (1982 SCC (Cr) 467), Giani Ram v. State of Haryana (AIR 1995 SC 2452), Baldev Singh v. State of Punjab (AIR 1996 SC 372)

[26] (AIR 1996 SC 922)

[27] AIR 1983 SC 1086

[28] AIR 1990 SC 513

[29] (2001) 6 SCC 338

[30] (2000) 2 SCC 391

[31] Randhawa, supra note 1, pp. 153-54

[32] Randhawa, supra note 1, pp. 159-160

[33] Paranjape, supra note 4, p. 679

[34] Section 358 (1) of the CrPC

[35] Section 359 (1) of the CrPC


[37] Section 376 A of Indian Penal Code

[38] Unique ID No. 02406R0020522013, SC No. 114/2013 decided on 10.09.2013


[40] Chockalingam, supra note 22, p. 104