Rehabilitating victims is as important as punishing the perpetrators of crimes, the Supreme Court said on Saturday. The SC added that the plight of the victims of a crime cannot be ignored even if an offence goes unpunished for want of adequate evidence.
While hearing an appeal on one Manohar Singh against the Rajasthan high court verdict acquitting the accused in a 1980 criminal case arising out of a land dispute, a bench comprising justices TS Thakur and Adarsh Kumar Goel said courts award just compensation to victims, apart from striking a balance between needs of the society and fairness to the accused.
“In spite of legislative changes and decisions of this court, this aspect (victims’ rehabilitation) at times escapes attention. 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 court added 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 focused on the need to compensate the victim which can now be taken to be integral to just sentencing,” it said.