In News: Supreme Court has stated that victim of a crime ought to be heard at all stages of a trial
- In Jagjeet Singh v. Ashish Mishra (2022), SC has made sharp remarks legitimizing the claims of victim to participate in the criminal justice process.
- The court observed that our criminal justice system conflates (combine) the presence of the state with the presence of the victim.
- Such conflation is attributable to the traditional understanding of the criminal process wherein the trial is a contest between the state and the accused only.
- The court also observed that the victim cannot be asked to wait till the commencement of the trial to assert their right to participate in the proceeding.
- The victim has a legally vested right to be heard at every step post the occurrence of the offence
- The victim as defined in Code of Criminal Procedure (CrPC) becomes a victim only after an accused has been charged with the offence.
- The judgment overcomes this bar to provide the victim with the right to be recognised as a victim immediately after the occurrence of the offence.
- Second, a victim, not being a complainant, has been deterred from several substantive pre-trial rights under the CrPC including the right to approach the superior police officer in case of a refusal to register an FIR, the right to be informed about the progress etc –
- Thus the judgment states that the victim has ‘unbridled participatory rights’ right from the stage of the investigation.
- While the judgment grants participatory rights to victims at all stages of the criminal process, it remains to be seen how the judgment is interpreted in the future and which rights are consequently identified
- A second challenge is that at the moment, there are several provisions and judicial precedents which stand in the way of a comprehensive guarantee of such rights to the victims.
- For instance, Section 301 limits the right of the victim’s participation at the trial in a court of session to submission of written arguments after evidence is closed in the matter.
What can be done?
- Provide legislative recognition to the principle of participation which has received the judicial stamp of approval.
- Amend the CrPC in order to facilitate the recognition of victim rights
- Such legislative incorporation can grant recognition to the rights of victims as well as secure their implementation by the lower judiciary as well as the functionaries of the criminal justice system.
Source: Indian Express