New Delhi: Courts must not only convict and punish the guilty in criminal cases but should also award compensation to the victims, the Supreme Court has held.
The apex court expressed concern that victims in criminal cases are not awarded compensation for the loss and damage suffered by them despite clear provision of law for this and said that all judges dealing with criminal cases be made aware about it.
"Section 357 Criminal Procedure Code (CrPC) confers a duty on the Court to apply its mind to the question of compensation in every criminal case. It necessarily follows that the Court must disclose that it has applied its mind to this question in every criminal case," a bench of justices T S Thakur and Gyan Sudha Misra said.
The bench said victims should not be "forgotten" by courts while deciding criminal cases and it is court`s obligation to apply mind in granting compensation in each case.
"...It appears to us that the provision confers a power coupled with a duty on the courts to apply its mind to the question of awarding compensation in every criminal case. We say so because in the background and context in which it was introduced, the power to award compensation was intended to reassure the victim that he or she is not forgotten in the criminal justice system.
"The victim would remain forgotten in the criminal justice system if despite Legislature having gone so far as to enact specific provisions relating to victim compensation, Courts choose to ignore the provisions altogether and do not even apply their mind to the question of compensation," the bench said.