Indian Penal Code

"For too long, the law has centred its attention more on the rights of the criminal than on the victims of crime. It is high time we reversed this trend and put the highest priority on the victims and potential victims" – President Gerald R. Ford1 The available historical work in the field of criminal law relating to the role of the victim in criminal proceedings reveals a steady evolution away from the "private," or individual, sphere to the "public" or societal one.

In Europe and England after the collapse of the Roman Empire, the victim and the criminal process were intimately linked. No formal government structure existed; thus, "criminal justice" largely depended on self-help or the help of kin. The blood feud constituted the major enforcement mechanism, both in England and on the continent: The victim, or his or her kin, exacted vengeance against and repayment from the perpetrator or his kin. At the same time, however, a rudimentary public enforcement mechanism, "outlawry," existed both on the continent and in England. 

As English society became more organized, and feudal lords began to assert dominion over others, the law of the blood feud became more refined and subordinated to "public" interests. It became unlawful to begin a blood feud unless an effort was made to extract a sum of money from the offender. At the same time that use of the blood feud was declining as the primary vehicle for enforcing criminal law, monetary compensation to victims or their kin ("bot" and "wer"), and fines payable to the king ("wite"), developed into a complicated system of tariffs that carefully set out the value of every sort of injury imaginable3.

This system of compensation would appear to be solicitous of a victim's right to restoration from the wrongdoer, but in practice, victims seldom received compensation. In England, as the kings gained and solidified authority, the concept of "the king's peace" prevailed, and criminal acts were seen by the legal system as offenses against the crown rather than against the individual. Outlawry was transformed from a punishment to a process for compelling the attendance of the accused at trial. Severe punishments, such as the taking of life and limb, were placed solely in the hands of the king and his representative.

Minor crimes were punished chiefly by monetary fines instead of the wite, and damages to victims or their families were determined and assessed by a tribunal rather than a system of tariffs4. As early as the thirteenth century in England, the law of felony appeared to serve the feudal system and the lords far more than it did the victims. The lords' consolidation of power, the greed of kings, and the need for a coherent system of laws transformed criminal law from a mixture of public and private law, to law of an exclusively public nature.

A similar shift from a mixed system to an exclusively public system took place on the continent. As English criminal law became more public, victims lost some discretion once they initiated a prosecution, but still retained an important role in the process through the unique English system of "private" prosecution. Private prosecution initially appears to demonstrate solicitude towards victims absent in every other system, but in fact, it was not very beneficial to the victim. By the nineteenth century, the British system of private prosecution had little to do with concern for victims of crime5.

In England today, serious cases are reviewed and sometimes prosecuted by the Director of Public Prosecutions, and police prosecute most of the other cases. Historically then, even in England, the victim has gradually ceased to be a significant actor with a formal role in the criminal process. However today the situation is different. Since the 1970s there has been a global movement, which has focused on the victims of crime and enhancement of their rights and their role in criminal proceedings.

Crime victims have assumed a prominent place in the study of criminal law. We talk about victims in criminology and criminal justice policy; we talk about them in criminal procedure and in substantive criminal law. It seems unlikely that the victim's newfound prominence is a coincidence. But beyond the somewhat trivial explanation that the criminal law's new focus on the victim is a response to our previous neglect of the topic, it is difficult to identify the reason for the victim's new prominence in the study of criminal law.

This is because there is no single reason. The recent call for more respect for the victim's interests, rights, and perspective within the criminal justice system is sympathetic to the victims6. This shift in perspective may be the result of more people being victimized, or it may result from real victims being increasingly able to speak up. But it is probably even more the result of the society identifying itself – for whatever reasons – with the victim7.

The interest criminology and criminal law have had in the victim since the seventies and eighties also seems to be based on the assumption that the victim deserves the attention offenders have had since the founding days of our disciplines. But the focus on victims has produced quite different results. Criminologists' findings on the victim – quickly named "victimology"8 – brought to an end the naive idea that it is sufficient to look only at the offender – and perhaps the society in which he grew up – in order to understand criminal acts. Victimology is the study of crime from the victim's point of view.

It is the science which makes victims the centre of study and aims at intensive understanding of the victim-offender relationship, investigates the victim's share in crime causation, examines the ways and means to protect victims before commission of the crime, during investigation and trial of the offender and also restitution and reparation of the damages caused to him by perpetration of the crime9. Thus there is no single reason to explain criminal law's newfound obsession with the victim. However this focus on the victim is a welcome development.

The victim is one of the central figures in the criminal process and deserves the attention he gets. The criminal justice can collapse without the cooperation of the victim. Thus the victim must play a major role in criminal proceedings. Steps are being taken all over the world to enhance the role of victims in criminal proceedings- starting from investigation to the trial and even during sentencing. These steps are reflected in the amendments in the criminal procedure of several countries, which have given the victim a major role to play during criminal proceedings.

It is hoped that this role enhancement of the victim during criminal proceedings and the importance given to the victims will not be abused and will help in improving and developing the criminal justice system. * Research Methodology Aims and Objectives The aim of this project is to explore and analyse the role of the victim during criminal proceedings. The project aims at analyzing the interaction of the victims with the constituent elements of the criminal justice system ie. the police, lawyers and courts and the role played by him at each stage of the criminal process.

Objectives of this project include looking at victims of sexual offences and their special needs and role and also analysing the concept of compensation to victims. The project suggests remedial measures to enhance the role of victims during criminal proceedings and to sensitise the criminal justice system to the needs and expectations of the victims. Another aim of this project is to explore the role of the victim in the criminal process in England and to compare it to the situation in India. Nature of Project

The project is analytical as well as descriptive in nature. However majority of the project is analytical in nature. Sources of Data The sources of data used are secondary in nature. A host of leading textbooks on criminal procedure and victimology have been referred to. Articles from leading journals like Criminal Law Journal, Criminal Law Review, Cochin University Law Review etc. have been used. Case reporters like All India Reporter, Supreme Court Cases and Criminal Law Journal have also been referred to. Scope and Limitation

The scope of this project is limited to studying the role of the victim in criminal proceedings from the point of view of the law of criminal procedure, analysing the flaws in the system which prevent the victim from playing an effective role in the criminal justice system and to suggest remedies to enhance the role of the victim in the criminal process. The project does not look at the role of the victim in criminal proceedings in the USA and also does not explore victimological theories relating to victims and types of victims etc.