Compensation under Sec 357A provided by Court is Recommendatory

When a crime is committed, justice should be provided to the victim. But in the process of providing justice, a lot of the time the victim is overlooked as the attention is focused on punishing the accused, to protect the accused’s rights, leading to the victim to take care of themselves, with a little or maybe no assistance. So, the victim is given a financial help/compensation for the agony, expense suffered by them due to the crime.

In the present case of Sumit Kumar Shaw and Ors v. The State of Jharkhand and Anr, the Judicial Commissioner granted the bail to the accused on the terms that it should pay a sum of Rs. 1 lakh in favour of the victim as ad-interim victim compensation, which was then challenged in the High Court.

Section 357A of the CrPc states that – (1) Every State Government in co-ordination with the Central Government shall prepare a scheme for providing funds for the purpose of compensation to the victim or his dependents who have suffered loss or injury as a result of the crime and who require rehabilitation. (2) Whenever a recommendation is made by the Court for compensation, the District Legal Service Authority or the State Legal Service Authority, as the case may be, shall decide the quantum of compensation to be awarded under the scheme referred to in sub-section (1)

With regard to the grant of compensation to victim under S 357 A of the CrPc, the Jharkhand High Court observed that an accused person cannot be swindled to pay compensation to the victim since he is still not proven guilty. If done, it would be in opposition to CrPc, and basic principle of criminal jurisprudence that a person is presumed innocent until proven guilty.

The court held that according to Section 357A of CrPc and the scheme framed by the Jharkhand government for granting victims compensation, it is the State or District Legal Services Authority that can fix the quantum of compensation. The court cannot directly fix the amount of victim’s compensation, it can only recommend it.

The judge pointed out that neither Section 357A of CrPc nor the government’s scheme with regard to compensation provides that an accused has to make the payment of compensation. The amount to be paid by compensation to the victim under Section 357A of CrPc is to be provided by the fund created for the purpose by the State. Hence, the State and not the accused has to pay the compensation.

Further, it held that the Court can recommend compensation under Section 357A CrPC at any stage of the trail. It in observance of this emphasised that the compensation cannot be considered as a consideration for the grant of bail, as it would have catastrophic effect.

In view of these findings, the High Court set aside the judgement passed by the Judicial Commissioner.

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