Victim of a crime should have a say in punishment: SC

‘Justice in the rule book may not serve the victim’
The victim of a crime should have a say in the punishment of the criminal, the Supreme Court has said in a judgment. A Bench of Justices Madan B. Lokur, S. Abdul Nazeer and Deepak Gupta held that punishment should be “meaningful” to the victim also. For this, “it is necessary to seriously consider giving a hearing to the victim while awarding the sentence to a convict”, the Bench said. In criminal prosecution, the State takes the front seat while the victim becomes a prosecution witness. The crime is primarily considered a wrong against society and the punishment, a deterrent for prospective offenders. With its order, the Supreme Court has made it clear that the victim or her family — who has suffered the crime — should have an equal say in the punishment of the perpetrator. “A victim impact statement or a victim impact assessment must be given due recognition so that an appropriate punishment is awarded to the convict,” Justice Lokur observed. On this, Justice Lokur observed that the answer perhaps lies in rehabilitation of the widow rather than merely ensuring that the criminal gets a life sentence for his crime. “Today, the rights of an accused far outweigh the rights of the victim of an offence in many respects… There needs to be some balancing… we still have a long way to go to bring the rights of victims of crime to the centre stage and to recognise them as human rights,” Justice Lokur wrote in the judgment. The case concerned the rejection of an appeal filed by Mallikarjun Kodagali, a victim of an attack in February 2009, by the Karnataka High Court in 2014.
The Supreme Court has set aside the decision of the High Court.
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