Paying Compensation To Victim Cannot Be Ground To Reduce Sentence: Supreme Court

Paying Compensation To Victim Cannot Be Ground To Reduce Sentence: Supreme Court
Paying Compensation To Victim Cannot Be Ground To Reduce Sentence: Supreme Court
Paying Compensation To Victim Cannot Be Ground To Reduce Sentence: Supreme Court
Paying Compensation To Victim Cannot Be Ground To Reduce Sentence: Supreme Court

Paying Compensation To Victim Cannot Be Ground To Reduce Sentence: Supreme Court

Paying Compensation To Victim Cannot Be Ground To Reduce Sentence: Supreme Court

Paying Compensation To Victim Cannot Be Ground To Reduce Sentence: Supreme Court

If payment of compensation becomes a consideration for reducing a sentence, it will have a “catastrophic” effect on the criminal justice administration, the Supreme Court has said.

The object of payment of compensation to the victim in a criminal case, it said, is to rehabilitate those who have suffered loss or injury by the offence and it cannot be a ground to reduce the sentence imposed upon the accused. The court said it will result in criminals with a purse full of money to buy their way out of justice, defeating the very purpose of criminal proceedings.

Section 357 of the CrPC empowers a court to award compensation to victims while passing a judgment of conviction. A bench of Justices JB Pardiwala and Manoj Misra said the idea of compensation is based on the theory of victimology which recognises the harsh reality that victims are unfortunately the forgotten people in the criminal justice delivery system.

“Payment of victim compensation cannot be a consideration or a ground for reducing the sentence imposed upon the accused as victim compensation is not a punitive measure and only restitutory in nature and thus, has no bearing with the sentence that has been passed which is punitive in nature,” the bench said. The top court said Section 357 of the Code of Criminal Procedure (CrPC) is intended to reassure the victim that they are not forgotten in the criminal justice system. It is a constructive approach to crimes based on the premise that mere punishment of the offender may not give solace to a victim or their family, it said.

“As such, when deciding the compensation which is to be paid to a victim, the only factor that the court may take into consideration is the convict’s capacity to pay the compensation and not the sentence that has been imposed. In criminal proceedings the courts should not conflate sentence with compensation to victims,” the bench said. The top court’s observation came while hearing a plea filed by a man named Rajendra Bhagwanji Umraniya challenging an order of the Gujarat High Court which reduced five years sentence imposed upon two men to four years jail in a criminal case.

The high court had also said the convicts need not undergo even the four-year sentence, if they paid Rs 2.50 lakh to the victim. The top court noted that 12 years have gone by since the incident occurred and the convicts have already deposited Rs 5 lakh. The bench said, “We are not inclined to direct them to undergo further sentence of four years”.

“However, having said so, we direct each of the respondents to deposit a further sum of Rs 5 lakh, i.e. in all Rs 10 lakh, in addition to what they have already deposited before the trial court,” the top court said.

(Except for the headline, this story has not been edited by VoM staff and is published from a syndicated feed.). 

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