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MATTER IN ISSUE

  • On 15th June 2017, Karan and Sunny (appellants) and MB (a juvenile in conflict with law) dragged Gulfamout of his house. Appellants held Gulfam while MB stabbed him in his back with a (chhuri)knife thereby causing fatal injuries.
  • FIR was lodged and the appellantsconsequently faced trial u/s. 302 r/w s. 34 of IPC before Chief Judicial Magistrate.
  • Eventually, on 25thAugust 2020, the matter was placed before the three judge Bench of the Delhi High Court under the title Karan vs. State (NCT of Delhi).
  • The Full Bench comprised of Justices JR Midha, Rajnish Bhatnagar and Brijesh Sethi.

SUBMISSIONS BY THE BAR MEMBERS

  • The Delhi HC vide Order dated 25/08/2020, permitted the appellants to withdraw the objections to jurisdiction of ld. Additional Sessions Judge and bail applications were dismissed on ground of being infructuous.
  • The appeals however remained pending as the court decided to consider the legal issues raised by the HC.
  • Mr. KanhaiyaSingal – ld. Counsel for the appellant, Mr. Rajshekhar Rao – ld. Counsel for the HC, Mr. Rahul Mehra – ld. Standing Counsel and Mr. vikasPahwa – ld. Amicus Curiae submitted that there is a need to frame guidelines for awarding compensation u/s.357 of CrPC.
  • Prof. G. S. Bajpai–professor of Criminology and Criminal Justice, NLU Delhi, who has done extensive research on victimology was appointed Amicus Curiae to assist framing of guidelines.

ORDER OF THE COURT

  • Court has 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.
  • Section 357(3) of CrPC is a mandatory provision and the word ‘may’ is to be construed as ‘shall’.
  • S.357(3) states –
  • When a Court imposes a sentence, of which fine does not form a part, the Court may, when passing judgment, order the accused person to pay, by way of compensation, such amount as may be specified in the order to the person who has suffered any loss or injury by reason of the act for which the accused person has been so sentenced.
  • The matter is listed for recording compliance and further directions by 25th February, 2021.

DIRECTIONS ISSUED BY THE COURT

  • After the conviction of the accused, the Trial Court shall direct the accused to file the affidavit of his assets and income within 10 days.
  • After the conviction of the accused, the Court shall also direct the State to disclose the expenses incurred on prosecution on affidavit along with the supporting documents within 30 days.
  • Upon receipt of the affidavit of the accused, the Trial Court shall immediately send the copy of the judgment and the affidavit of the accused and the documents filed with the affidavit to DSLSA.
  • Upon receipt of the judgment and the affidavit of the accused, DSLSA shall conduct a summary inquiry to compute the loss suffered by the victims and the paying capacity of the accused and shall submit the Victim Impact Report containing their recommendations to the Court within 30 days. (Format of both could be found in the judgment annexures)
  • Delhi State Legal Services Authority shall seek the necessary assistance in conducting the inquiry from SDM concerned, SHO concerned and/or prosecution who shall provide the necessary assistance upon being requested.
  • The Trial Court shall thereafter consider the Victim Impact Report of the DSLSA with respect to the impact of crime on the victims, paying capacity of the accused and expenditure incurred on the prosecution; and after hearing the parties including the victims of crime, the Court shall award the compensation to the victim(s) and cost of prosecution to the State, if the accused has the capacity to pay the same.
  • The Court shall direct the accused to deposit the compensation with DSLSA whereupon DSLSA shall disburse the amount to the victims according to their Scheme.
  • The Registrar General of this Court shall place these reports before ACR Committee of the Judicial Officers.
  • If the accused does not have the capacity to pay the compensation or the compensation awarded against the accused is not adequate for rehabilitation of the victim, the Court shall invoke Section 357A CrPC to recommend the case to the Delhi State Legal Services Authority for award of compensation from the Victim Compensation Fund under the Delhi Victims Compensation Scheme, 2018.
  • In pending appeals/revisions against the order on sentence in which Section 357 CrPC has not been complied with, the Public Prosecutor shall file an application seeking a direction from the Court for directing the accused to file his affidavit of assets and income and directions to DSLSA to conduct a summary inquiry to ascertain the loss/damage suffered by the victim(s) and the paying capacity of the accused in terms of Sections 357(4) CrPC in accordance with procedure mentioned hereinabove.
  • The first monthly report for the period 01 st January, 2021 to 31st January, 2021 be submitted by 15th February, 2021 and thereafter, by 15th of each English calendar month.
  • All the Courts below shall send a monthly statement to the Registrar General of this Court containing the list of cases decided each month. The list shall contain the name and particulars of the case; date of conviction; whether affidavit of assets and income has been filed by the accused; whether summary inquiry has been conducted to assess the compensation and determine the paying capacity of the accused; and compensation amount awarded. The monthly statement shall also contain one page summary format of the above information.
  • Delhi State Legal Services Authority is directed to prepare a proposal for additional manpower after examining number of summary inquiries that are likely to be conducted by DSLSA every month and the proposal be sent to Government of NCT of Delhi within one week whereupon Government of NCT of Delhi shall complete all necessary formalities within three weeks to ensure that the directions of this Court relating to the summary inquiry by DSLSA in every criminal case are implemented w.e.f. 01st January, 2021.

What do you think about the High Court’s decision? Let us know in the comments section below!

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