Rajendra Bhagwanji Umraniya vs State of Gujarat 2024 INSC 413 – S 357 CrPC – Victim Compensation -Sentencing

Code Of Criminal Procedure, 1973; Section 357- 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 – . In criminal proceedings the courts should not conflate sentence with compensation to victims. Sentences such as imprisonment and / or fine are imposed independently of any victim compensation and thus, the two stand on a completely different footing, either of them cannot vary the other. Where an accused is directed to pay compensation to victims, the same is not meant as punishment or atonement of the convict but rather as a step towards reparation to the victims who have suffered from the offence committed by the convict- If payment of compensation becomes a consideration for reducing sentence, then the same will have a catastrophic effect on the criminal justice administration. 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. (Para 23-26)

Code Of Criminal Procedure, 1973; Section 357- The sole factor for deciding the compensation to be paid is the victim’s loss or injury as a result of the offence, and has nothing to do with the sentence that has been passed. Section 357 of CrPC is intended to reassure the victim that he/she is 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 the victim or its family- 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. (Para 24-25) – The idea of victim compensation is based on the theory of victimology which recognizes the harsh reality that victims are unfortunately the forgotten people in the criminal justice delivery system. Victims are the worst sufferers. Victims‟ family is ruined particularly in cases of death and grievous bodily injuries. This is apart from the factors like loss of reputation, humiliation, etc. Theory of Victimology seeks to redress the same and underscores the importance for criminal justice administration system to take into consideration the effect of the offence on the victim’s family even though human life cannot be restored but then monetary compensation will at least provide some solace. (Para 22)

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