Definitions Of Victim
The word 'victim' has been defined in various dictionaries (English and legal),
legal assertions and statutes in the following manner:
"A person who has been attacked, injured, robbed, or killed by
A person harmed, injured, or killed as a result of a crime,
accident, or other event or action the legal definition of "victim" that is set
forth in relevant constitutional amendments, statutes, and rules, and this
definition varies from jurisdiction to jurisdiction.
Oxford Law Dictionary:
A person who is actually and directly affected by an act
or omission that is incompatible with the European Convention on Human Rights,
or a person who is at risk of being directly affected.
Black's Law Dictionary:
'victim' is a person harmed by a crime, tort, or
Statutory definition (India):
As per Code of Criminal Procedure, 1973, 'victim'
means a person who has suffered any loss or injury caused by motive of the act
or omission for which the accused person has been charged and the expression
includes guardians and legal heir of the victim.
Types Of Victimology
Various Criminologists and Victimologists discussed the subject of victimology
founded on different experiences of the Criminal Justice Administration.
According To Fattah (1989), Victimology Might Be Categorized Into:
Scheneider (1991) Classified Victimology Into:
- Humanistic Victimology:
It deals with actions which fight for the cause
of the human rights of victims of crime.
- Scientific Victimology:
It concerns academic research and activities
which lead to the expansion of victimology as an independent discipline (Karmen,
- One as a sub-discipline of criminology which censures victims of crime
- Study of Victimology as an independent discipline from a human rights
Critical Victimology has been mainly developed in order to
formulate solutions to some of the difficulties associated with positivism.
Critical victimology mainly studies who possesses the power to apply the label
and what are important considerations in that determination. Proponents of
critical victimology opine that victimology fails to question the basic
foundations of what crime is and supervises why certain acts are sanctioned,
this consequently has caused it to develop in the wrong direction. Critical
victimology centres around the issue of how and why convinced actions are
defined as criminal and, how the entire field of victimology becomes focused on
one set of actions instead of another. Critical Victimology attempts to examine
victims in a social context.
Jan. J.M. van Dijk in his article talks about two forms of victimology, namely
Penal Victimology and General Victimology.
Penal Victimology: The influence of the victimologists who pioneered the study
of this domain made a strong contribution to the development of penal
victimology. Penal victimologists are concerned with the study of illegal
criminal acts. Research in this field deals with data related to the causation
of crime, victim-offender interaction and such other matters where there is
direct contact between the offender and the victim. Penal victimology is also
known as interactionist victimology and penal victimologists are generally not
very keen on providing professional assistance to the victims.
General Victimology: Mendelsohn advocated for the development of such
victimology which would be free from criminal law and criminology and aim at
reducing the sorrows and sufferings of men. He emphasized that the field of
victimology should comprise victims of accidents, natural disasters and other
'acts of god'. Thus this category of victimology does not consider victims of
crime only but also considers. It can be said that it is 'assistance-oriented'
victimology since it aims at helping the victims rather than merely studying and
interpreting them victims.
Newer Dimensions Of Victimology
The modern day concept of newer dimensions of victimology includes people who
are bereaved of their basic rights due to factors like a natural disaster, war,
accidents etc. In these cases also, the resultant victimization is not a product
of any criminal act committed against the victim. In these cases, victimization
mostly is caused by the individuals suffering on account of an event which was
elsewhere under their control or was committed without any mensrea.
Victimization due to issues like climate change, disaster management concerns,
rehabilitation packages and arrangements for victims of development-induced
displacement is very significant in this respect.
Another example is the monstrous Tsunami which hit the coast of India on the
26th of December, 2004, and caused havoc and destruction to life and property
and for the purpose of Reviving and rehabilitating the families of agriculture
and allied sector of Andaman and Nicobar Islands, Rajiv Gandhi Rehabilitation
Programme (RGRP) was applied by the Andaman and Nicobar Administrations, for
which the Central Government had approved a package of Rs. 821.88 crores.
study conducted to assess the economic influence of rehabilitation schemes for
the farmers affected by Tsunami, shows that it has been beneficial for the
farming community of those islands as it has improved their income and generated
employment. Prime Ministers National Relief Fund had sanctioned a total package
of Rs 13.08 Crores for the purpose of rehabilitation of victims of Tsunami and
the child assistance schemes and scholarship schemes were also underneath
A special package of Rs 3452 Crore was approved by the Central
Government for the reconstruction and rehabilitation of the damaged
infrastructure which was badly disturbing the life of the victims of the natural
calamity and apart from this various other initiatives were also undertaken for
improving the quality of life of the affected people and revitalisation of the
Therefore, the concern for the victims of such natural calamity or such other
acts, which are non-criminal in nature but result in robbing the people of their
basic rights, livelihood, security etc. and the Governments' response near their
rehabilitation as an obligation on their part, is a manifestation of this form
of victimology. The sufferers are victims as their rights are sacrificed and it
is the role of the welfare state which requires state to provide for such
In R. Gandhi v. Union of India
, the Madras High Court, acting on the report of a
commissioner appointed by it to assess the losses directed payment of the
varying amount of compensation for the loss of property of the Sikh community in Coimbatore.
The right of victim compensation has been well recognized under the CrPC but is
available only where a substantive sentence of the fine was imposed and was
limited to the amount of fine actually understood. Section 357(3) authorizes the
magistrate to impose a fine where a fine has not been imposed. However, this
section is appealed sparingly and inconsistently by the courts.
The 152nd Report
of the Law Commission had recommended the introduction of section 357-A
recommending inter alia that compensation should be awarded at the time of
sentencing to the victims of crime amounting to Rs. 25,000/- in case of bodily
injury, not resulting in death and Rs 1,00,000/- in case of death. Since the
recommendation of the report had not been united by the government, the 154th
Report mandated the incorporation of section 357-A.
Though any individual can be subject to victimization there is a certain
category of persons who are thought to be more vulnerable to victimization than
others and the societal structure, the economic structure, and their independent
characteristics are some such features which make them additionally vulnerable
They are such individuals who are subject to a lack of power either
physically or economically or socially and this power difference is the primary
cause which leads to following victimization at the hands of the powerful. Such
victims can be grouped as:
- Elderly Victims:
With the rise of human rights issues, among
various other issues, concern for the victimization of the elders also gained
recognition. Abuse, neglect and financial exploitation of the elders were the
foremost cause behind such victimization and such victimization has been
categorized into physical, emotional, negligent victimization, financial, sexual
- Child Victims:
Children are the most vulnerable class of
victims highly dependent on others, mainly due to the lack of mental maturity
and lack of physical strength they need to be separately addressed and dealt
with and they easily fall victim to various kinds of abuses (physical, sexual,
emotional, and economic). The trauma agonised by them requires a separate
treatment, unlike the elders. The juvenile justice system which is created
within the criminal justice system breaks on the foundation of child centrical
and child friendly approach.
- Victims Of Sex Offences:
Victimization on grounds of sexual
pleasure is the most common form of victimization and women are the most
vulnerable prey to such victimizations. Ranging from rape, marital rape, and
sexual assault to offences like outraging the modesty of a woman are several
manifestations of such kind of victimization. In the present day context, such
victimization is not restricted to women. Children and men even are subject to
this nature of victimization.
- Female Victims:
Generally female victimization is considered
to be restricted to sex-related offences. But this narrow observation causes
gross mistreatment to the victims who are in more than one case subject to
victimization on grounds apart from sex. The discrimination that a woman is
subject to at her workplace in her professional growth, the disparity in wages
that she suffers, and the ill-treatment done to women in homes behind closed
doors are not manifestations of sexual offences but are definitely quite vocal
about the vast variety of victimizations of various nature to which she is
subject and it majorly reflects the power imbalance in a patriarchal society.
The male superiority and insecurity get reflected in such kinds of victimization
in each field of human life which ultimately calls for special treatment and
protection for women.
- Minority Groups And Weaker Sections:
Pluralistic society is
inhabited by various linguistic, regional, religious, and ethnic communities.
Class, caste and the religious distinction between these groups get reflected in
the socio-economic disparity among them. Such differences lead to the majority
and minority groups, economically weak and economically strong groups and
socially weak and socially strong groups.
The power difference between these
groups leads to the exploitation of the weaker by the strong and such
exploitation takes the form of various denial and breach of rights of the
weaker/ minority group. The powerful exert their influence and force on the
weaker which finally leads to the persecution of the less powerful. So it is
very important that laws and policies are enclosed keeping in mind the interest
and protection of such category of victims.
Compensation Under Indian Constitution
Recently the Supreme Court of India has given a new dimension to Article 21 by
interpreting it dynamically so as to include compensation to the victims under
its possibility. The Indian constitution has several provisions which endorse
the principle of victim compensation. In one case the Supreme Court, of the
plight of many rape victims in the country, wanted the National Commission for
Women to draw up a scheme for compulsory reimbursement to victims of sexual
Despite the sympathy expressed in several circles, victim compensation
law continues to be unsatisfactory acknowledge in criminal justice with the
result there is very little interest shown by them in the successful prosecution
of criminal cases.
Besides the many judgements of various High Courts and the Supreme Court of
India, the Law Commission of India has also submitted crucial Reports in which
it has recommended providing compensation to the victims of crime. Among many
reports, 142nd, 144th, 146th, 152nd, 154th and 156thare very important reports
which have made very important contributions towards compensation of victims and
following the various reports and judicial decisions, the Government of India
has made amendments to the Code of Criminal Procedure and s.157A has been
inserted in 2009.
Fifth Law Commission, in the 42nd report[ix] dealt with compensation to the
victim of crime in India. While dealing, it referred to and highlighted the
"three patterns" of compensating victims of crime as reflected in the Code of
Criminal Procedure of France, Germany, and (Former) Russia.
The three patterns
- Compensation by the state
- the compensation by the offender either by asking him to pay it from the
fine imposed or a specified amount; and
- Duty to repair the damage done by the criminal.