Source : Bar and Bench
The Jharkhand High Court on Thursday made pertinent observations regarding the grant of compensation to victims of crimes under Section Section 357A of the Code of Criminal Procedure. The Court clarified that an accused person cannot be saddled with the liability to pay compensation to a victim, particularly given that his guilt or innocence is yet to be proven. To do so would run counter to both the CrPC as well as the basic principle of criminal jurisprudence that a person is presumed innocent until proven guilty.
The Court noted that if the accused person is ultimately acquitted, and told to recover the amount paid by him earlier as compensation on the court's order. the Court added that voluntary undertakings by accused persons to pay victims compensation should not be a ground for the grant of bail as in such an event.
As per Section 357A, CrPC as well as the scheme framed by the Jharkhand government under the provision for granting victims compensation, it is the State or District Legal Services Authority that can fix the quantum of compensation. A Court can only recommend the payment of such compensation, the quantum of which has to be determined by the Legal Services Authority, the High Court said.
The Judge went on to emphasise that even if accused volunteers to pay compensation, the same cannot be of any consideration at all for the grant of bail. He highlighted that if such payment becomes a consideration for the grant of bail, not only would it be against the law, but it would also have a catastrophic effect on criminal justice administration. The High Court proceeded to set aside a condition set by the Court of the Judicial Commissioner, Ranchi for the accused in a cheating case to pay Rs 1 lakh as compensation to the victim as a condition for the grant of anticipatory bail. The anticipatory bail itself was found to have been grounded on other relevant reasons, and, therefore, not set aside.