V for Victim
‘In law, the accused has a million ways to escape. But the victim is consigned to the gallows.’
(Bhavna Vij-Aurora, in the April 17th 2006 issue of ‘The Outlook’)
There is a place in our courts for the judge, the accused, the lawyers and witnesses.
But there is no seat for the victim though his/her plight remains central to the case.
Here's how the legal system favours the accused and not the victim:
- · No involvement of victim and his family in court proceedings, except when summoned as witnesses
- · Accused can hire lawyer (s) of his choice. The victim has to go along with the public prosecutor engaged by the state.
- · No accountability of public prosecutor. He/she gets time-bound promotions not linked to performance.
- · The victim or his family cannot file an appeal against an unfair verdict. That is the state’s prerogative. The victim’s side can only file a revision petition on grounds of procedural oversight.
- · Rights of the accused, including right to silence, is detailed in law. It is, however, silent about the victim’s rights.
- · The accused has the right to know the evidence framed by the prosecution. The victim has no access to information from the defence side.
- · Delay in judgment gives the accused greater opportunity to win over witnesses
- · If the accused is influential, he can tamper with evidence, compromise investigators, even judges
It feels that the criminal justice system does not exist to give justice anymore but has been reduced to give employment to advocates, sub-standard public prosecutors and judges.
If the prime minister is answerable, why not the judges? If electing them would make them answerable, then let them be elected!
While judges of the lower courts are monitored by the high court, there is hardly any accountability for judges of the high courts and the Supreme Court. They can only be impeached by Parliament. The judges think that there is nothing between them and God.
The judge sits on the podium and presides, with an earmarked place for the accused, the lawyers, the witness and the public. There should definitely be a prominent place for the victim inside the courtroom.
We appear to have forgotten that the legal system exists only to give the victim justice.