Access to Justice for Victims of Crime in India: An Analysis of Section 372 CrPC

Published date01 April 2023
AuthorBeulah Shekhar, Ranjani R.
Date01 April 2023
Subject MatterOriginal Articles
Original Article
Access to Justice
for Victims of Crime
in India: An Analysis
of Section 372 CrPC
Beulah Shekhar1 and Ranjani R.1
This article focuses on the right of victims to invoke Section 372 of the Code
of Criminal Procedure. In India, over the past decade or so, concerns about
victims of crime have increased significantly and the need for victims to partici-
pate in criminal proceedings has practically been built into the legal framework.
Perhaps, the judicial process lacks in assisting the victims in a trial. This article
focuses on cases where the victim appeals against an acquittal or for lesser
offences or imposes inadequate compensation. Notwithstanding an appeal, this
proceeding can also be dismissed for several reasons. While this paper builds
the rationality behind invoking this section, it also looks into the extent to
which this section could provide justice to the victims. This goes in line with
the UN Declaration of basic principles such as access to justice and fair treat-
ment, restitution, compensation and victim assistance. The absence of a defini-
tion of appeal in the statutory law and provisions for victims’ right to appeal
delimits the scope of enhancement of sentence for the accused which is a right
reserved only to the State. Moreover, this article helps researchers deepen
their research on the perspective of victimology and the need for victim ser-
vice providers to uphold victim justice.
Section 372 of CrPC, UN Declaration, appeal, acquittal, victim justice, victim
assistance, enhancement of sentence, inadequate compensation
Journal of Victimology
and Victim Justice
6(1) 64–80, 2023
2023 National Law
University Delhi
Article reuse guidelines:
DOI: 10.1177/25166069231160434
National Forensic Sciences University LNJN-NICFS, Delhi Campus, Ministry of Home Affairs
(MHA), New Delhi, India
Corresponding author:
Beulah Shekhar, National Forensic Sciences University LNJN-NICFS, Delhi Campus, Ministry of Home
Affairs (MHA) New Delhi, India.
Shekhar and Ranjani R. 65
The Indian Constitution under Article 21 guarantees the right of persons to live
with human dignity.2 This assures that victims should also be treated with dignity,
respect and compassion. However, the criminal justice system lacks enforceable
victim rights to access justice and fair treatment. Victims play a vital role in the
criminal justice system, although the system is profoundly dependent on the vic-
tim; however, the current system is more concerned with the offenders, their
wrongs, rights and correctional needs. The offender’s rights are safeguarded by
the Indian Constitution and varied laws. For too long, the victims of crime have
been forgotten by the justice system. Perhaps, the victim should be treated fairly
and intend to receive justice instantly. The victims are the ones who bring the
criminals into the light of the criminal proceedings but they are mere spectators,
despite participating in the judicial process where they are easily neglected, vic-
timized and judged based on stereotypes and bias. They are also victimized by this
judicial process. The system is heavily loaded in favour of the accused and insen-
sitive to the victim’s plight and rights and most cases ended in acquittal.
In the eventuality of an acquittal ask the pertinent question: What’s next? What
next for the victim? If the accused person has been acquitted by the criminal
justice system that produced him, what is the remedy to find the actual accused?
Is there any way to reprimand the police or the prosecutor for producing the wrong
person, or for the shoddy investigation, that led to the acquittal? What is the
mechanism to serve justice to the victim by holding someone responsible for the
harm he/she has suffered? Going by the words of John Scarr ‘Justice isn’t served
till crime victims are….’ Therefore, it may be categorically stated that acquittal
equates to nil victim satisfaction, and thereby the absence of access to justice
while, on the other hand, conviction equates to victim satisfaction and access to
justice.3 The participation of victims in the criminal justice process is tedious and
their rights, needs, access to justice and redressal of victimization have been
largely ignored. They are often neglected, rarely protected and mistreated by the
existing criminal justice system.
In this context, the system realized that the victims are the real sufferers of the
crime so they should be involved in criminal proceedings and trials. Subsequently,
Section 372 was introduced in the Code of Criminal Procedure, 1973 (CrPC),
stating that an aggrieved victim, after an order of acquittal can participate in the
criminal proceedings by an appeal against three eventualities are:
Øfor lesser offences;
Øimposing inadequate compensation.
2 Art. 21, Constitution of India, 1950.
3 Bhagavathy & Shekhar Acquittal & Its aftermath & Access to Justice for Victims of Murder in the
Three Southern Districts of Tamil Nadu’ in Criminology & Victimology: Through The Looking Glass,
ISBN: 9789381402658 Pages 161–181 (University Publication Press 2019).

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