In Delhi, convicts to pay for trauma of victims, cost of crime

Delhi is going to be first city in the country where victims of crime, ranging from rape, murder to theft, will be financially compensated by a convict for physical injuries, emotional or psychological trauma and even funeral expenses. The compensation or “restitution” will be paid by the convict and may have a bearing on the final sentencing, if the court and the victim agree.

To determine a just and reasonable amount of restitution, the court shall pay due regard to non-monetary factors such as emotional trauma or harm, nature and severity of physical injury, type and duration of medical intervention required, nature and duration of physical health problems, loss of life, loss of affection and companionship, loss of reputation. The move follows a report filed by amicus curiae G. S. Bajpai, who is also the Chairperson, Centre for Criminology and Victimology at the National Law University in Delhi, in association with senior advocate Vikas Pahwa in the Delhi High Court.

Based on the report, a tool for the “victim impact report” has been put in place and it will be applicable to all courts in Delhi covering all the police stations in Delhi.

The court while deciding the quantum of compensation will consider monetary expenses borne by the victim as such as money spent on counselling or psychological therapy, medical treatment, loss of earning, legal expenses, damage or loss to property, loss due to attachment or collection of property for evidentiary purposes, funeral expenses and interest on the total sum incurred.

After a crime has been reported, the investigating officer will have to compulsorily record the “loss or injury suffered by the victim” and “financial capacity of the accused.”

A group of legal experts appointed by Delhi State Legal Services Authority (DSLSA), including senior police officers and social activists appointed by the court where a criminal trial is taking place, will assess the “emotional and mental” trauma faced by the victim of any crime and will prescribe monetary compensation before the jail sentence is announced.

“Minor offences such as petty theft may have emotional impact in the short term while offences such as kidnapping or rape are bound to have long term consequences. Similarly, sexual abuse by a relative will lead to more emotional trauma and psychological harm than robbery by a stranger,” the report said.

Mr. Bajpai told The Hindu, “The victim impact report is well known in Europe and other countries. Our criminal justice system is accused-centric and the victim does not have a space. This practice will bring victim to the mainstream. We have developed a tool. Already a State victim compensation scheme under Section 357 CrPC exists. The restitution has to be recovered from the offender based on his paying capacity and we have developed a tool for that also. Offender is being made individually responsible to the victim in terms of restituting the harm done to the victim.”

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Printable version | Jan 19, 2021 11:58:47 PM |

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