New Delhi: Dependents of murder victims are
entitled to monetary compensation from the accused to
compensate for the bereavement, the Supreme Court has ruled.
A bench of justices Aftab Alam and R M Lodha asked the
Centre to formulate a fresh legislation or drastically amend
the "The Fatal Accidents Act-1885 "to provide financial
compensation for family members of victims of murder, which
would be independent from the criminal prosecution of the
The apex court said simultaneous criminal proceedings and
civil suit claim against the murder accused would not amount
to double jeopardy. Under the doctrine of double jeopardy, a
person cannot be tried twice for the same offence.
"It is a matter of grave concern that such sensitive
matters like payment of compensation and damages for death
resulting from a wrongful or negligent act are governed by a
law which is more than one and half centuries old.
"The Fatal Accidents Act, on account of its limited
and restrictive application, is hardly suited to meet such a
challenge. We are,therefore, of the opinion that the old
antiquated Act should be drastically amended or fresh
legislation should be enacted which should, inter alia,
contain appropriate provisions," Justice Alam writing the
The apex court passed the ruling while dismissing an
appeal of convict Suba Singh challenging a direction of the
Punjab and Haryana High Court which asked him to pay a
compensation of Rs 2.32 lakh to Davinder Kaur, a widow of
Surinder Singh who was shot dead by the former over a property
row on July 1, 1991.