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Power of courts under section 357A of CrPC Analysis by Advocate Lokendra Rana Delhi High Court

Author: Mr. Lokendra Rana, Advocate at Delhi High Court & Supreme Court of India (Founder & Mananging Advocate at Rana & Rana Law Firm.

Section 357A of CrPC

Section 357A of CrPC all over India:

This number is extremely low considering the crime rate in India. As per the Crime in India Report by NCRB in 2020 alone, a total of 66,01,285 cognizable crimes comprising 42,54,356 Indian Penal Code (IPC) crimes and 23,46,929 Special & Local Laws (SLL) crimes were registered in India.

As per A National Report on Status of Victim Compensation to Survivors of Human Trafficking in India by Sanjog NGO, out of 32 States/UTs, 11 States/UTs recorded zero applications for victim compensation as well as zero court recommendations for granting victim compensation to victims of human trafficking from the time of implementation of the schemes till the year 2019.

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Information received through some RTI:

The NGO came to this finding by finding several RTI’s in almost all States in India. This is a very upsetting figure as the need for rehabilitation for survivors of human trafficking isn't even a debate anymore, and the total failure of the courts in recommending compensation for a heinous crime like human trafficking explains the status of victim compensation in the country.

Application for compensation under Section 357A schemes:

One may argue that the low numbers of victims directly making application for compensation under Section 357A schemes is because of the non-awareness of the framework in the general public, however this argument cannot be sustained when the courts who are supposed to be well versed with the laws and policies have failed to exercise the power of discretion given to them to recommend compensation under the said Section.

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The poor implementation of the victim compensation schemes all over the country has always involved a lot of controversy and debates. This makes the role of Courts more critical since it plays an essential function in the scheme of victims compensation. Judiciary being the guardian of victims’ rights, must take recourse to this Section more often and utilize the recommendatory power given to it under the legislation.

Not only must the courts exercise their mind in sentencing the accused but also pay attention to the rehabilitation needs of the victim. It is of pertinent importance that the discretionary power of the judiciary under Section 357A and Section 357 is converted to a mandatory power in suitable cases involving heinous crimes like human trafficking, acid attacks, rapes etc. It must be made mandatory for the courts to pass orders of compensation under the Section for certain offences.

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If it decides not to do so, it must be made obligatory to record the reasons for not doing the same. Apart from the Courts, various other stakeholders in the Criminal Justice System, like Public Prosecutors, Police Officials, Legal Service Institutions, NGOs, should help make awareness of the said scheme in the general public so that the victims of crime make use of this mechanism and avail compensation. Some institution, agency, or stakeholder must be given responsibility under the law to inform the victims/dependants about their remedy to avail compensation. Such a low number of applicants under the victim compensation schemes showcase how there is a serious lack of awareness regarding the same all across India.

Media can also play a great role in creating awareness about the schemes.

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This article written by Legal AdvisoryTeam

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