The Supreme Court held that the payment of victim compensation under Section 357 CrPC cannot be a consideration or a ground for reducing the sentence imposed upon the accused.

The Court held thus in appeals challenging the judgment of the High Court in which the issues raised were the same and the parties were also the same.

The two-Judge Bench of Justice J.B. Pardiwala and Justice Manoj Misra observed, “The provision of Section 357 recognizes the aforesaid and is victim centric in nature. It has nothing to do with the convict or the sentence passed. The spotlight is on the victim only. The object of victim compensation is to rehabilitate those who have suffered any loss or injury by the offence which has been committed. Payment of victim compensation cannot be a consideration or a ground for reducing the sentence imposed upon the accused as victim compensation is not a punitive measure and only restitutory in nature and thus, has no bearing with the sentence that has been passed which is punitive in nature.”

The Bench said that the idea of victim compensation is based on the theory of victimology which recognizes the harsh reality that victims are unfortunately the forgotten people in the criminal justice delivery system.

Senior Advocate Harin P. Raval appeared on behalf of the appellant while Advocate Purvish Malkan appeared on behalf of the respondent.

In this case, the appellant person was the original first informant (complainant) who lodged an FIR for the offence punishable under Sections 147, 148, 149, 427, 323, 325, 506(2), and 384 of the Indian Penal Code (IPC) and Section 135 of the Gujarat Police Act. The FIR was lodged against five accused persons and out of them, two were named in the FIR, whereas the remaining three were not named. The accused persons were convicted by the Sessions Court under Section 325 of IPC and were sentenced to undergo rigorous imprisonment of 5 years with a fine of Rs. 5,000/- each.

The other three accused persons who were not named in the FIR, were acquitted by the Trial Court. Against the judgment and order of conviction, the accused went in appeal before the High Court. The sentence of 5 years being imposed by the Trial Court was reduced to 4 years and the High Court further held that if an amount of Rs 2.50 lakh is paid by each of the accused persons, then they need not undergo even the four years of sentence. The appellant was, therefore, before the Apex Court.

The Supreme Court in view of the above facts noted, “Victims are the worst sufferers. Victims’ family is ruined particularly in cases of death and grievous bodily injuries. This is apart from the factors like loss of reputation, humiliation, etc. Theory of Victimology seeks to redress the same and underscores the importance for criminal justice administration system to take into consideration the effect of the offence on the victim's family even though human life cannot be restored but then monetary compensation will at least provide some solace.”

The Court further said that the words “any loss or injury” used in Section 357 of the Criminal Procedure Code (CrPC) clearly indicates that the sole factor for deciding the compensation to be paid is the victim’s loss or injury as a result of the offence, and has nothing to do with the sentence that has been passed. It added that Section 357 of CrPC is intended to reassure the victim that he/she is not forgotten in the criminal justice system and it is a constructive approach to crimes based on the premise that mere punishment of the offender may not give solace to the victim or its family.

“As such, when deciding the compensation which is to be paid to a victim, the only factor that the court may take into consideration is the convict’s capacity to pay the compensation and not the sentence that has been imposed. In criminal proceedings the courts should not conflate sentence with compensation to victims. Sentences such as imprisonment and / or fine are imposed independently of any victim compensation and thus, the two stand on a completely different footing, either of them cannot vary the other. Where an accused is directed to pay compensation to victims, the same is not meant as punishment or atonement of the convict but rather as a step towards reparation to the victims who have suffered from the offence committed by the convict”, it also observed.

The Court noted that if payment of compensation becomes a consideration for reducing sentence, then the same will have a catastrophic effect on the criminal justice administration and the same will result in criminals with a purse full of money to buy their way out of justice, defeating the very purpose of criminal proceedings.

“We could have easily done as submitted by Mr Raval, but in the facts and circumstances of the case, more particularly, keeping in mind that a period of twelve years has elapsed and when the respondents (original convicts) have already deposited the amount of Rs 5 lakh, we are not inclined to direct the respondents to undergo further sentence of four years. However, having said so, we direct each of the respondents to deposit a further sum of Rs 5 lakh, i.e. in all Rs 10 lakh, in addition to what they have already deposited before the trial court. This deposit shall be made within a period of eight weeks from today. The trial court shall disburse the entire amount of Rs 15 lakh to the appellant herein (original complainant) after proper identification”, it directed.

Accordingly, the Apex Court disposed of the appeals.

Cause Title- Rajendra Bhagwanji Umraniya v. State of Gujarat (Neutral Citation: 2024 INSC 413)


Appellant: Senior Advocate Harin P. Raval, Advocates Pradhuman Gohil, Purvish Jitendra Malkan, AOR Vikash Singh, Advocates Ranu Purohit, Alapati Sahithya Krishna, Rushabh N. Kapadia, Mohit Prasad, Siddharth Singh, Ritvik Bhanot, Shrestha Narayan, Urmi H Raval, and Shreya Bhansal.

Respondent: Advocate Purvish Jitendra Malkan, AOR Swati Ghildiyal, Advocates Devyani Bhatt, Srujana Suman Mund, Pradhuman Gohil, AOR Vikash Singh, Advocates Ranu Purohit, Alapati Sahithya Krishna, Rushabh N. Kapadia, Mohit Prasad, and Siddharth Singh.

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