THE KERALA HIGH COURT RECENTLY RULED THAT SECTION 357A(4) CRPC IS A SUBSTANTIVE PROVISION AND THAT THE VICTIMS ARE ENTITLED TO COMPENSATION EVEN FOR CRIMES THAT OCCURRED PRIOR TO ITS ENACTMENT.
WHAT IS SECTION 357A(4) CRPC?
• This section was added vide a 2009 amendment act.
• It provides for a victim compensation scheme wherein the State Government is required to compensate any victim of a crime or his dependents for rehabilitation.
• Clause (4) specifically mentions about those cases where the Where the offender has not been identified but the victim has been identified. In such cases also, the victim can file an application for seeking compensation.
THE PRESENT CASE
• District Collector Alappuzha v. District Legal Service Authority, Alappuzha and others [WP.No.7250 OF 2014]
• The people seeking compensation are dependents of the victim who had died in a motor vehicle accident.
• The Police had registered this case as an offence.
• The offender had escaped and could not be identified.
• Whether the provisions of Section 357A are substantive or procedural in nature?
• Whether the provisions have retrospective or prospective effect? i.e. whether the victim is entitled to compensation in cases where the crime had occurred prior to addition of this section?
• The Kerala HC ruled that a reading of the provision itself suggests that since it is meant for providing compensation to the victim, it is creating a right for him, and is thus a Substantive law.
• It relied uponthe Supreme Court’s ruling in the matter of Executive Engineer, Dhenkanal Minor Irrigation Division, Orissa and Others v. N.C Budharaj and Others [(2001) 2 SCC 721], wherein it had held that:
• "Substantive law is that part of law, which creates, defines and regulates rights in contrast to what is called adjective or remedial law which provides a method of enforcing rights."
• The Court also held that victims are entitled to compensation for crimes which had occurred before the addition of this section.
• The purpose of this section is to compensate and not to “punish”, and therefore it can have a retrospective effect.
• State has a humanitarian responsibility to assist crime victims.
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