Victims of heinous crimes often get a raw deal in India’s criminal justice system, while accused — even in terror cases — get better legal assistance, Chief Justice of India JS Khehar said on Saturday.
“Ours is a strange country. The bigger the criminal, the bigger is the outrage. As we have seen before that the convict in a terror crime, who has failed up to the Supreme Court and also in his review, can get access to justice in a manner that we extend,” justice Khehar said in an oblique reference to 1993 Bombay blast case convict Yakub Memon.
Memon was granted an early morning hearing by the apex court even after dismissing his review and curative pleas against the original verdict that ordered his hanging.
“I have wondered over the years — what about the families, which have lost their bread earners, the acid attack victims who are defaced and cannot survive, the rape victims and their lives. I wonder why we don’t reach out to them,” he said, appealing to the legal services authority to make 2017 the year of the victims.
He asked the National Legal Services Authority (NALSA) to send its para-legal volunteers to every trial court to inform victims that their right to compensation is not closed.
“Let us make them understand that the case is not closed with the acquittal or conviction of the accused. Let us have a heart and reach the victims,” he said.
CJI referred to the criminal procedure code (CrPc) that provides for a creation of fund at the national and state level for the victims under section 357A, which victims are unaware of.
Justice Dipak Misra, the second senior-most judge of the Supreme Court, minister of state for law and justice PP Chaudhary and other judicial officers from across the country were present at the function.
The CJI urged the Centre to telecast on national television the short films movie maker Praksh Jha has directed on legal literacy.