“Victim” means a person who has suffered any loss or injury caused by reasons 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.
New clause (wa) in Section 2 has been added by Section 2 of the CrPC (Amendment) Act, 2008 (Act No. 5 of 2009). This new clause introduces a definition of “Victim” to confer certain rights on the guardians and legal heirs of the victim e.g right to file appeal against an adverse order (Section 372), and to claim compensation under new Section 357-A. The scheme behind the insertion of this new definition of “victim” is also apparent from the insertion of a proviso to Section 24(8) of CrPC, so as to enable a victim, or those who are covered by this definition, to engage an advocate of his/her choice to assist the prosecution. Since the entire criminal justice machinery is set into motion on the asking of or due to the sufferings of the victim, the law-makers have deemed it fit to enable the victim to actively participate in the judicial process.
The expression “victim” as defined in section 2(wa) includes all categories of legal heirs for the purpose of engaging an Advocate under Section 24(8) or to prefer an appeal under proviso to Section 372 of the Code. The expression “legal heir” in relation to a victim refers to a person who is entitled to the property of the victim under the applicable law of inheritance.
It shall be the duty and responsibility of the State to make arrangements for the protection of victims, their dependents, and witnesses against any kind of intimidation or coercion or inducement or violence or threats of violence.
A victim shall be treated with fairness, respect and dignity and with due regards to any special need that arises because of the victim’s age or gender of educational disadvantage or poverty.
A victim or his dependant shall have the right to reasonable, accurate, and timely notice of any Court proceeding.
Victim compensation is one of the major aspects in reparation of the harm or injury caused to the victim due to the commission of the crime. Monetary assistance in one-way or the other always benefits the victims in the mitigation of their sufferings. It appears that in order to overcome the situation, a new Section 357 A Code of Criminal Procedure was added in the Code of Criminal Procedure by an amendment in the year 2009. This was the much needed relief to the victims of offences and therefore one of the most progressive legislations in recent times. The State Government has framed the scheme “The Odisha Victim Compensation Scheme 2017” for providing the funds for compensation to the victims or their dependents, who have suffered the loss or injury on the account of offence against body and who require rehabilitation.
In the matter of victim compensation, the role of the Prosecutor cannot be brushed aside. In the scheme, “The Odisha victim compensation scheme 2017,” Para 7(C) mandates that the victim shall cooperate with the police and the Prosecution from the stage of investigation till conclusion of the trial of the case. Para 9 of the said scheme is read as follows:
(a) Whenever a recommendation is made by the Court or an application is made by any victim under Sub-Section (4) of Section 357-A of the Code to the District Legal Service Authority, the District Legal Service Authority shall examine the case and verify the contents of the claim with regard to the loss or injury caused to victim and arising out of the reported criminal activity and may call for any other relevant information necessary in order to determine genuineness. After verifying the claim, the District Legal Service Authority shall after due enquiry award compensation within two months from the date of recommendation of the Court or application received from the victim subject to the provisions contained hereinafter.
(b) Compensation under this Scheme shall be paid subject to the condition that if the trial Court while passing judgment at later date, orders the accused persons to pay any amount by way of compensation under Sub-Section (3) of Section 357 of the Act, the victim shall remit an amount ordered to be paid under the said sub-section (3) of Section 357 of the Act, whichever is less. An undertaking to this effect shall be given by the victim before the disbursal of the compensation amount.
(c) The District Legal Services Authority shall decide the quantum of compensation to be awarded to the victim on the basis of loss caused to the victim, medical expenses to be incurred on treatment, minimum sustenance amount required for rehabilitation including such incidental charges as funeral expenses etc. In case of grant of compensation less than the maximum fixed for the reasons to be recorded in writing.
(d) The quantum of compensation to be awarded under the scheme shall be disbursed to the victim or his dependents, as the case may be, from the Fund. The quantum of compensation to be awarded to a victim under this scheme shall not exceed the maximum limit as specified in the Schedule.
(e) Compensation received by the victim from the State in relation to the crime in question, namely, insurance, ex gratia and/or payment received under any other Act or State run scheme or Central run scheme, shall be considered as part of the compensation amount under the scheme and if the compensation amount as decided by the District Legal Services Authority exceeds the payments received by the victim from the sources mentioned above, the balance amount shall be paid out of the Fund.
(f) The victims of cases covered under the Motor Vehicle Act, 1988 (59 of 1988) wherein compensation is awarded by the Motor Accident Claims Tribunal or under the provisions of the Code, shall not be covered under the Scheme.
(g) The cases covered under SC & ST (POA) Act and PCR Act, 1955 shall not be covered under the Scheme.
(h) The compensation awarded shall be paid in two phases, first half being within any time before commencement of trial and the rest half on conclusion of trial subject to the satisfaction to be recorded in writing by the District Legal Services Authority basing upon the opinion of the public prosecutor concerned that the victim cooperated with the prosecution during trial.
(i) The District Legal Services Authority, to alleviate the suffering of the victim may order for immediate first aid facility of medical benefits to be made available free of cost on the certificate of the officer-in-charge of the police station or Magistrate of the area concerned, or any other interim relief as it may deem fit.
(j) The payment of Compensation from the Fund will be made by Account Payee Cheque or electronic money transfer to the Account of the payee.
(k) Any compensation awarded by the order of Special Court under Sub-Section (8) of Section 33 of the Protection of Children from Sexual Offence Act, 2013 shall be paid from the fund under this Scheme.
In appropriate cases, the Prosecutor may move the Court for award of just compensation to the victim.
Even if the victim of the crime appoints a counsel, the said counsel shall act under the guidance of the Public Prosecutor. After scrutinizing the evidence of the victim-witness, the Prosecutor may suggest questions to be put by the Court to the accused at the time of recording of his statement under section 313 of the Code of Criminal Procedure.