New Delhi: Supreme Court has said the plight of the victims of a crime cannot be ignored even if an offence goes unpunished for want of adequate evidence, and their rehabilitation is as important as punishing the accused.
A bench of justices TS Thakur and Adarsh Kumar Goel, in a recent judgment, also said the courts should not only strike a balance between needs of the society and fairness to the accused but also award just compensation to victims.
"In spite of legislative changes and decisions of this Court, this aspect (victims' rehabilitation) at times escapes attention. Rehabilitating victim is as important as punishing the accused. Victim's plight cannot be ignored even when a crime goes unpunished for want of adequate evidence.
"The court has to give attention not only to the nature of crime, prescribed sentence, mitigating and aggravating circumstances to strike just balance in needs of society and fairness to the accused, but also to keep in mind the need to give justice to the victim of crime," the bench said.
The apex court's observation came in a judgement on an appeal of one Manohar Singh against the Rajasthan High Court verdict acquitting the accused in a 1980 criminal case arising out of a land dispute.
The Supreme Court said that it may not be appropriate to award jail terms to any accused as 35 years have already gone by since the incident and, at best, compensation may be given by the accused or the state to the victim appellant.
"We find that the court of sessions and the High Court have not fully focussed on the need to compensate the victim which can now be taken to be integral to just sentencing. Order of sentence in a criminal case needs due application of mind.