The Supreme Court has ruled that the plight of the victims of a crime must not be overlooked even if the alleged perpetrators evade conviction owing to lack of evidence. In any case, the rehabilitation of crime victims holds as much importance as punishing the accused does.
A bench comprising Adarsh Kumar Goel and TS Thakur stated that not only courts do have the responsibility of striking a balance between the needs of a society and a fair trial to the accused, but they should also award just compensation to victims.
“In spite of legislative changes and decisions of this Court, this aspect (victims’ rehabilitation) at times escapes attention. Rehabilitating victim is as important as punishing the accused. Victim’s plight cannot be ignored even when a crime goes unpunished for want of adequate evidence. The court has to give attention not only to the nature of crime, prescribed sentence, mitigating and aggravating circumstances to strike just balance in needs of society and fairness to the accused, but also to keep in mind the need to give justice to the victim of crime,” the bench said.
The bench made its observation while hearing the appeal of one Manohar Singh against a Rajasthan High Court ruling that acquitted the accused in a 1980 criminal case involving land dispute.
The apex court bench stated that because it has already been 35 years since the alleged crime was committed, it would be not be proper to award jail terms to the accused now. However, proper compensation should be awarded by the accused or the state to the victim appellant.
“We find that the court of sessions and the High Court have not fully focused on the need to compensate the victim which can now be taken to be integral to just sentencing. Order of sentence in a criminal case needs due application of mind,” the bench added.