ANALYSIS OF THE COMPENSATION TO VICTIMS

Section 357(b) of the code states that when a court imposes a sentence of fine or a sentence (including a sentence of death) of which fine forms a part, the court may, when passing judgement, order the whole or any part of the fine recovered to be applied – 

1 (b) in the payment to any person of compensation for any loss, or injury caused by the offence, when compensation is, in the opinion of the court, recoverable by such person in a civil court.

The imposition of fine is a condition precedent to making an order u/sub s(1). Compensation can be allowed only out of whole or any part of the fine recovered. Any person is entitled to compensation for the loss or injury caused by the offence and it includes the wife, husband, parent and child of the deceased victim[1]

In awarding such compensation, the court is to take into consideration various factors such as capacity of the accused to pay, the nature of the crime, the nature of the injury suffered and other relevant factors[2]. Where an accused was found guilty of an offence u/s. 304 part 2 IPC, by the supreme court, his sentence of imprisonment was reduced to the period already undergone but he was additionally fined Rupees 20000 by way of compensation u/s. 357 of the code to be paid to the widow of the deceased

Where a sessions judge, while convicting the accused in a murder case, directed payment of compensation by the accused to the widow of the deceased and since the recovery might be delayed, the state was directed to pay the amount of compensation and recover it from the properties of the accused and the state was further directed to ensure free education to the children of the deceased, it was held that in absence of statutory provisions in this regard, criminal court is not invested with jurisdiction to issue such directions to state. Only the accused may be directed to pay compensation to the victim[3]

Where order to pay compensation has been passed by a court, the said order does not bar a subsequent suit for compensation. Section 357 recognises separate suit for compensation by dependents of a deceased person[4]. In case of breach of promise of marriage, compensation of 50000 was awarded, though the offer was inadequate, it was accepted as he had been in jail for 2 years. In between, both the victim and accused got married.

The quantum depends upon facts, circumstances, the nature of the crime, the justness of the claim of the victim and the capacity of the accused to pay. If there are more than one accused, quantum may be divided equally unless their capacity to pay varies considerably.  Where power of speech had been impaired permanently, compensation to the victim was enhanced[5]. Where a homeopath operated a lady for causing abortion and the lady died within a few hours, the SC reduced the sentence of imprisonment but enhanced fine from 5000 to 1 lakh which was deposited in a bank in the name of the minor son of the deceased.[6]

The power to award compensation u/s. 367(3) is not ancillary to other sentences but it is in addition thereto[7]. Where the amount fixed was repulsively low so as to make it a mockery of the sentence, it would be enhanced. The financial capacity of the accused, enormity of the offence, extent of damage caused to the victim, are the relevant considerations in fixing up the amount[8].The compensation should be commensurate with the capacity of the accused to pay as also other facts and circumstances of the case like the gravity of the offence, needs of the victims family. The court took note of the fact that accused owned agricultural land, tractor trolley and a car, indicated that he was reasonably affluent and was capable of paying at least 1 lakh compensation per victim[9]

The SC has observed that there is no limit upon award of compensation- M magistrate who thinks fit that a complainant must be compensated for his loss can resort to the course indicated in s. 357 of the code. He can, after imposing a term of imprisonment, award compensation to the complainant for which no limit is prescribed in s.357 of the code[10].

The SC has held that when fine too is imposed on an accused. Compensation could be paid out of fine. There is no need to award separate compensation. Only where sentence does not include fine but the court finds that the person who suffered loss or injury by the act of the accused, the court is permitted to award compensation u/s 357(3) of the code. Thus, in a case u/s 138 of negotiable instruments act, where the magistrate had power to impose a fine of rs 10000, the magistrate could not have increased the fine to 22000 where the dishonoured cheque was for rs 20000[11].

357-A was inserted in order to provide for the state government to prepare, in co-ordination with the CG, a scheme called victim compensation scheme for the purpose of compensation to the victim or his dependants who have suffered loss or injury as a result of the crime. 

In a case where the accused was unable to pay the compensation, it was held that the court ought to award compensation u/s. 375 A CRPC against state from funds available under victim compensation scheme[12].

In cases of Acid attacks  a minimum of Rupees 300000 shall be made available to each victim of acid attack u/s. 357A,  full medical assistance should be provided to the victims of acid attack, private hospitals should also provide free medical treatment to such victims and action may be taken against hospital.

The  Central government in 2015 formulated the CVCF scheme to compensate the determined. Every state has their own guidelines which decide the procedure. The following table indicates the minimum amount payable.

Acid attack3 lakhs
Rape3 lakhs
Physical Abuse of minor 2 lakhs
Permanent disability  ( 80 % or more)2 lakhs
Rehabilitation of victim of Human Trafficking1 lakh

Section 360 enables the court under certain circumstances, to release the accused, who has been convicted, on probation of good conduct. It applies only to first time offenders, after giving due consideration to the score of their age, character or antecedents, and to the circumstances in which the offence is committed. The object of this section is to avoid sending the first time offender to prison for an offence which is not serious character and thereby running the risk of turning him into a regular criminal[13].

Where a person not at all involved in the crime was subjected to arrest and prosecution, along with the fact that this happened due to the fact that he intervened to save the victim and to set him free, his detention and prosecution were declared as illegal  and the state was directed to pay compensation to him[14].A court cannot pass an order under this section where the offence charged is punishable with more than 7 years imprisonment and the person accused is more than 21 years old[15]

As per Section 362, a court is prohibited from altering or revising any judgement or final order disposing of a case after it has been signed except for the purpose of correction of clerical or arithmetical error. As soon as the judgement or final order disposing off a case is signed, it becomes final and the court is functus officio[16].

The bar placed under 362 cannot be overcome by having resort to the provisions of s.482. Section 362 debars the court from altering or reviewing the judgement only in those cases when it has signed its judgement or when it has passed final order disposing of a case[17]

The High Court  has no jurisdiction to alter or review its own judgement or odder except to the extent of correcting any clerical or arithmetical error. The practice of filing criminal miscellaneous  petition after disposal of the main case for issuance of fresh directions is unwarranted and amounts to an abuse on process of the court[18]


[1] Emperor v Morgan, 1909 ILR 36 CAL 302.

[2] Sarwan Singh v. State of Punjab, 1978 CrLj 1598

[3] State of MP v. Mangu, 1995 CrLJ 2596.

[4] Suba Singh v. Davinder Kaur, AIR 2011 SC 3163

[5] Hari Kishan and state of Haryana v. Sukhbir Singh, 1989 CrLj 116

[6] Jacob George v state of Kerala. 1994 3 SCC 430.

[7] Balaraj v state of up. AIR 1995 SC 1935.

[8] Sebastian v state of kerala, 1992 CrLj 3642.

[9] Rachhpal Singh v. State of Punjab, AIR 2002 SC 2710.

[10] , Pankajbhai Nagjibhai Patel v. state of Gujarat, AIR 2001 SC 567

[11] R, Vijayan v Baby, AIR 2012 SC 528.

[12] State of hp v Ram Pal (2015) SC 518

[13] Emperor v Mahomed Hanif, 1942 44 Bom LR 456

[14] Surendra Choudhary v state of bihar, 2003 CrLj 2596

[15] Emperor v Yeshaba Sakhoba, 1938 40 Bom LR 927

[16] Wahongbam Gulab Singh v Moirangthem Ningol, AIR 1964 Gau 24

[17] CBI Hyderabad v Dharmana Prasad Rao,  2017 SCC 5 

[18] Hari Singh Mann v. Harbhajan Singh Bijwa, AIR 2001 SC 43.

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