Wednesday, 30 December 2020

Kerala HC: Victims are entitled to claim compensation U/S 357A(4) of CRPC for incidents that occurred even before the coming into force of the said provision

In view of the above deliberations, the following

conclusions are arrived at:

(i) The provisions in Section 357A(1)(4)&(5) Cr.P.C are

substantive in character.

(ii) The victims under Section 357A(4) of the Cr.P.C. are

entitled to claim compensation for incidents that occurred even

prior to the coming into force of the said provision.

(iii) By giving the benefit to victims under Section 357A(4)

Cr.P.C., for crimes that occurred prior to 31.12.2009, the statutory provision is not given retrospective effect, and instead a

prospective benefit is given based on an antecedent fact.

 IN THE HIGH COURT OF KERALA AT ERNAKULAM

PRESENT

 WP(C).No.7250 OF 2014(E)


DISTRICT COLLECTOR,ALAPPUZHA.

Vs  DISTRICT LEGAL SERVICE AUTHORITY,ALAPPUZHA,

Coram: MR. JUSTICE BECHU KURIAN THOMAS

Dated this the 22nd day of December, 2020

A question of seminal importance has arisen in this case.

The query raised relates to the victim compensation scheme

under Section 357A(4) of Cr.P.C. and its applicability. Is the

provision retrospective or prospective in its application? To

paraphrase the query: Would the victim, of a crime that occurred

prior to 31.12.2009, be entitled to claim compensation under

Section 357A(4) of the Cr. P.C.

2. The facts, though not relevant to be narrated in detail, is

in a nutshell as follows:

Respondents 2 to 4 are the legal heirs of one late

Sri.Sivadas. In a motor vehicle accident that took place on

26-03-2008, Sri. Sivadas succumbed to his injuries. Though a

crime was registered by the Alappuzha Traffic Police, the accused

could not be identified or traced and the trial has not taken

place. In 2013, the legal heirs of late Sivadas applied to the

District Legal Services Authority, Alappuzha, seeking

compensation from the State under Section 357A(4) of the Code

of Criminal Procedure, 1973 (for brevity 'the Cr.P.C').


3. Pursuant to the application, an enquiry, as contemplated

under Section 357A(5) Cr.P.C, was conducted through the

Additional District Judge, Alappuzha, who was appointed as the

Enquiry Officer. The enquiry report was submitted on

12-09-2013. The report revealed that the applicants are the legal

heirs of late Sivadas and that at the time of death he was aged

52 years and a casual labourer. It further stated that considering

the circumstances, an amount of Rs.3,03,000/- (Rupees Three

lakhs three thousand only) was sufficient compensation that

could be awarded to the dependents of late Sri.Sivadas. On the

above basis, the 1st respondent by Ext.P1 order, directed the

State of Kerala to pay an amount of Rs.3,03,000/- to the

dependents of late Sivadas under Section 357A(5) of the Cr.P.C.

Ext.P1 is under challenge.

4. On account of non-representation for the respondents,

this Court had appointed Adv. Leah Rachel Ninan to assist the

respondents and taking note of the important question involved

and its far-reaching effect, this Court also appointed Adv.

Keerthivas Giri as an Amicus Curiae. However, before completion

of the hearing in the case, counsel for the respondents entered

appearance.

5. Arguments were addressed by Adv.B.Vinod, the learned


Senior Government Pleader on behalf of the petitioner, Adv. Leah

Rachel Ninan, as appointed by the Court, as well as Adv.

K.S.Aneesh on behalf of respondents 2 to 4, and Adv. Keerthivas

Giri, the learned Amicus Curiae.

6. Adv. B Vinod, the learned Senior Government Pleader,

passionately argued that the direction to the State to pay

compensation to the dependents of a victim under Section

357A(4)&(5) of the Cr.P.C., for a crime that occurred on

26-03-2008, relying upon an amended provision, brought into

effect only on 31.12.2009, and based on an application of the

year 2013, is wholly unfair and contrary to the statutory

prescription. He also contended that Section 357A(4) Cr.P.C

cannot be given a retrospective operation as the financial

implication of such an interpretation would be so enormous upon

the Government, that it will crumble the economic planning of

the State.

7. Adv. B Vinod argued with persuasive skill and pointed

out that Section 357A Cr.P.C. is a substantive law and unless the

statute by express or necessary intendment stipulates that it will

have retrospective operation, it can only be interpreted as having

a prospective operation. It was also argued that the enquiry,

contemplated under Section 357A Cr.P.C. is in the nature of


evidence to be adduced which itself is indicative of its

prospective application, apart from the words used which takes

in only the immediate possibility of compensation payable and

the future compensation, thereby clearly intending that the

provision has no retrospective application.

8. According to the learned Senior Government Pleader,

the express exclusion of words that cover past transactions is a

clear indication that the provision has prospective operation only

and referred to the provisions of Section 163 of the Motor

Vehicles Act, 1988 now renumbered as Section 161. He also

distinguished the decision in Suresh and Another v. State of

Haryana [(2015) 2 SCC 227] relied upon by the respondents, as

having no application, since that was a case where State's

liability to pay compensation was determined on the basis of

state action or inaction or when the constitutional machinery of

the State failed. Adv.Vinod, argued that the necessity of

rehabilitation of a victim cannot cause prejudice to the accused.

He further submitted that the provisions of Section 357A Cr.P.C.,

is a complete code in itself and each sub clauses of the said

section cannot have different periods of application. Referring to

Article 38 of the Constitution of India, the learned Government

Pleader also argued that it applies to secure social order and

W.P.(C) No.7250/14 -:7:-

since by becoming a victim of a crime, one does not become part

of a social class, nor do the victim's answer a cohesive unit to

become a class and that the constitutional provision has thus no

application.

9. Adv. Leah Rachel Ninan, the learned counsel appointed to

represent respondents 2 to 4, argued, obviously after an in-depth

study of the entire gamut of Section 357A Cr.P.C., that, the

provision applies to past occurrences of crime also. According to

the learned counsel, the concept of Section 357A is akin to a joint

tortfeasor under the civil law, and the legislative attempt by

bringing in Section 357A Cr.P.C. was to make State also a joint

tortfeasor, in a limited manner. It was also argued that the

concept of rehabilitation of the victim is not a new right that was

brought in by Section 357A Cr.P.C., but it is a right that was

always inherent under Article 21 of the Constitution of India. As a

right that was always inherent in a victim, Section 357A(4)&(5)

Cr.P.C. only created a mode of providing compensation, and

hence the same has retrospective application. Adv.Leah Rachel

Ninan further submitted that, even otherwise, Section 357A(4)&

(5) Cr.P.C., being a beneficial provision, benefiting the entire

community of the State, it ought to be interpreted as having a

retrospective effect, relying upon the decision in Commissioner

W.P.(C) No.7250/14 -:8:-

of Income Tax(Central)-I New Delhi v. Vatika Township

Private Limited [(2015) 1 SCC 1]. Learned counsel also relied

upon the decisions in District Collector, Vellore District v.

K.Govindaraj [(2016) 4 SCC 763], Suresh and Another v.

State of Haryana [(2015) 2 SCC 227], as well as Sathya

Prabha v. State of Kerala (2017 (2) KLT 233).

10. Adv. K.S.Aneesh, relied upon the observations in the

decision of a learned Single Judge of this court in Ramesh K.R

and Others v. Central Bureau of Investigation and Another

(2020 (4) KLT 351), and canvassed that a reading of paragraph

11 and 14 of 154th Law Commission Report will reveal that the

amendment brought in as Section 357A to Cr.P.C. was to supply

an obvious omission and that in such cases, the rule against

retrospectivity of the enactment will not have any application. In

the counter affidavit filed by the 2nd respondent, it was pleaded

that, in another instance, for an accident that occurred in 2006,

the State had, in fact, paid compensation to the victim after

357A(4) Cr.P.C. was brought in, which shows the double

standards being adopted by the State.

11. Adv. Keerthivas Giri, the learned Amicus Curiae

submitted that the intention behind the introduction of Section

W.P.(C) No.7250/14 -:9:-

357A Cr.P.C. was to enable the Government to prepare a scheme

for establishing a fund for disbursing compensation to victims.

Relying upon the definition of the word ‘victim’ as appearing in

Section 2(wa), Adv. Keerthivas Giri submitted that a wider ambit

is to be accorded to the said term to include victims of crimes,

where the offender is not traced or identified. The learned

Amicus Curiae further submitted that there was nothing, either in

the Amendment Act of 2008 or in the Cr.P.C., which even

remotely indicated that Section 357A(4)&(5) Cr. P.C must operate

prospectively and on the other hand, all that the provision did

was to institutionalize the concept of victim compensation,

providing a platform for considering applications. It was further

pointed out that the first scheme, contemplated under Section

357A Cr.P.C., was prepared in Kerala in the year 2014 known as

the Kerala Victim Compensation Scheme, 2014, which has now

been replaced by the Kerala Victim Compensation Scheme,

2017.

12. Adv. Keerthivas Giri also submitted that the Amendment

Act of 2008 was a recognition of the concept of victimology and

the compensation payable under Section 357 Cr.P.C. is punitive in

nature, while the compensation awarded under Section 357A is

W.P.(C) No.7250/14 -:10:-

rehabilitative, the source of which is traceable to Article 21 of the

Constitution of India. He bolstered his submissions by relying

upon the decisions in Ankush Shivaji Gaikwad v. State of

Maharashtra [(2013) 6 SCC 770], Mohammed Haroon and

Others v. Union of India and Another [(2014) 5 SCC 252],

and Abdul Majeed C.M. and Others v. Mohammad

Shafeque @ Shafeeque and Others (2016 (1) KHC 613). The

decision in Piyali Dutta v. State of West Bengal and Others

(2017 Cr.L.J 4041) was also pointed out as a case in which a

similar question was considered.

13. The illuminating arguments of all counsel, provided an

interesting experience. Adv. Leah Rachel Ninan and Adv.

Keerthivas Giri augmented their oral submissions with written

notes also.

14. Criminal justice system has undergone a paradigm shift

in its approach to the dispensation of criminal justice, in the last

two decades. Criminal jurisprudence was always accused centric,

with the victim, a forgotten entity. Victim had no role in the

criminal justice system. However, with the advent of the

philosophy of victim compensation, with its avowed purpose not

to award damages analogous to those in cases of tortious

W.P.(C) No.7250/14 -:11:-

liability, but to give solace, by way of compensation out of the

public purse, for the injury sustained, whether the offender had

been brought to trial or not, a new stakeholder, in the criminal

law, was ushered in.

15. The Law Commission of India, in its 152nd and 154th

report, recommended for the inclusion of a new provision in the

Cr.P.C., providing for victim compensation, over and apart from

Section 357 Cr.P.C. While recommending the inclusion of a

scheme for victim compensation, the Commission, reported that

the said scheme is justified from out of the State funds on the

principle that the State has a humanitarian responsibility to

assist crime victims and also that the assistance is provided

because of the social conscience of its citizens and as a symbolic

act of compassion. Victimology was thus proposed as a facet of

criminal jurisprudence.

16. The principles of victimology have their foundations in

Indian constitutional jurisprudence. The fundamental rights under

Part III and the directive principles of state policy in Part IV of the

Constitution of India form the bulwark for a new social order. The

social and economic justice provided in Article 38 and Article 41,

which mandates the State to secure the right to public assistance

in case of disablement and undeserved want, Article 51A which

makes it a fundamental duty to have compassion for living

creatures and to develop humanism. According to the Law

Commission of India, if the above Constitutional provisions are

expanded and interpreted imaginatively, they could form the

constitutional underpinnings for victimology in India.

17. Based on the aforesaid recommendations, the Code of

Criminal Procedure Amendment Act, 2008 (No.5/2009) was

brought into effect. Apart from introducing a definition for the

term ‘victim’ in Section 2(wa), the amendment, inter-alia inserted

a new provision as Section 357A to the Cr.P.C. For reference

‘Section 2(wa)’ and Section 357A Cr.P.C. are extracted as below:

“2. Definitions

In this Code, unless the context otherwise requires,-

xxx xxx xxx xxx xxx xxx xxx xxx

xxx xxx xxx xxx xxx xxx xxx xxx

(wa) “victim” means a person who has suffered any loss

or injury caused by reason of the act or omission for

which the accused person has been charged and the

expression “victim” includes his or her guardian or legal

heir.”

“357A -Victim Compensation Scheme- (1) Every

State Government in co-ordination with the Central

Government shall prepare a scheme for providing funds

for the purpose of compensation to the victim or his

dependents who have suffered loss or injury as a result

of the crime and who require rehabilitation

(2) Whenever a recommendation is made by the

Court for compensation, the District Legal Services

Authority or the State Legal Services Authority, as the

case may be, shall decide the quantum of compensation

to be awarded under the scheme referred to in subsection

(1).

(3) If the trial Court, at the conclusion of the trial,

is satisfied, that the compensation awarded under

Section 357 is not adequate for such rehabilitation, or

where the cases end in acquittal or discharge and the

victim has to be rehabilitated, it may make

recommendation for compensation.

(4) Where the offender is not traced or identified,

but the victim is identified, and where no trial takes

place, the victim or his dependents may make an

application to the State or the District Legal Services

Authority for award of compensation.

(5) On receipt of such recommendations or on the

application under sub-section (4), the State or the

District Legal Services Authority shall, after due enquiry

award adequate compensation by completing the

enquiry within two months.

(6) The State or the District Legal Services

Authority, as the case may be, to alleviate the suffering

of the victim, may order for immediate first-aid facility

or medical benefits to be made available free of cost on

the certificate of the police officer not below the rank of

the officer in charge of the police station or a Magistrate

of the area concerned, or any other interim relief as the

appropriate authority deems fit.”

18. The definition of the word 'victim' as extracted above

will indicate that it would apply only when the accused has been

charged. This strict interpretation of the definition will create an

apparent contradiction when juxtaposed against Section 357A(4)

Cr.P.C. Under the aforesaid sub-clause of Section 357A, an

application can be made only if the offender is not traced or


identified and the trial does not take place. This anomaly in the

construction of the definition of the word 'victim' is not of

significance, since, like in every definition clause, Section 2 of the

Cr.P.C also starts with the words “In this code, unless the context

otherwise requires”.

19. It is a settled proposition of law that when a strict

application of the definition in a statute will frustrate the

legislative intent of a particular provision or when the defined

word is used and makes the provision unworkable, then recourse

can be had to a different meaning. This recourse to a different

meaning is intended by the legislature by using the legislative

tool in the form of the words “unless the context otherwise

requires”. In the decision in Youaraj Rai and Others v.

Chander Bahadur Karki [(2007) 1 SCC 770], the Supreme

Court held that “Moreover the opening words of Section 2 are

“unless the context otherwise requires”. Hence, while

construing, interpreting, and applying the definition clause, the

court has to keep in view the legislative mandate and intent and

consider whether the context requires otherwise.”

20. Adopting the aforesaid principle of interpretation, if the

word “victim” in Section 357A(4) Cr.P.C., is given the same

meaning as defined in Section 2(wa), then the accused must


have been charged. If the accused is charged, then the offender

is already identified and the trial should also carry on. If the word

victim in Section 357A(4) Cr.P.C, is interpreted based on the

definition in Section 2(wa), it will render the provision in Section

357A(4) and 357A(5) nugatory and redundant. To add meaning

and life to Section 357A(4) Cr.P.C., it is necessary that the

offender under the said sub clause is not traced or identified and

not charged. In that perspective, the word ‘victim’ as appearing

in Section 357A(4) Cr.P.C., ought to be given a different meaning.

The context of Section 357A(4) Cr.P.C., requires a different

meaning to be adopted for the word 'victim'. To add meaning and

life to Section 357A(4) Cr.P.C, it is necessary that the word

'victim' in Section 357A(4) is meant as a person who suffers any

loss or injury by reason of the act or omission of another in which

the offender has not been traced or identified and against whom

a trial has not taken place. Such an interpretation alone would

make Section 357A(4) Cr.P.C., workable, and have meaning.

21. While considering the main question about the

applicability of Section 357A(4) Cr.P.C., to crimes that occurred

prior to the coming into force of the said provision, it is necessary

to appreciate the objects and reasons for bringing in the

amendment. Prior to the Amendment Act 5 of 2009, criminal law

in the country provided for compensation to victims and their

dependents only in a limited manner under Section 357 Cr.P.C.

Under the old Code of 1898, no compensation was payable,

unless a substantive sentence of fine was imposed and the

amount of compensation was limited to the extent of fine

realised, that too, when compensation was, in the opinion of the

court, recoverable by the victim in a civil court. The 1973 Code

made an improvement and it recognised the principle of

compensating the victim, even when no sentence of fine was

imposed.

22. With the observations of the Supreme Court relating to

compensatory justice in criminal law in Hari Singh v. Sukhbir

Singh and Others [(1988) 4 SCC 551], it was felt that the

principles of compensation to crime victims need to be reviewed

and expanded to cover all cases. It was also felt that the

compensation should not be limited only to fines or penalty if

realised, but the State should accept the principle of providing

assistance to victims out of its funds, even in case of acquittals

or where the offender is not traceable or identifiable. It is in this

background and after noticing that the existing provisions for

compensation to crime victims had its own weaknesses that the

Law Commission of India in its 154th report, recommended for


incorporating a provision like Section 357A, to the Cr.P.C., so that

opportunities for securing justice are not denied to any citizen on

grounds of economic or other disabilities.

23. Section 357A Cr.P.C., was brought in with effect from

31.12.2009 through the Code of Criminal Procedure Amendment

Act, 2008, (Act 5 of 2009). The amended provisions do not

mention anywhere that the amendment is prospective or even

retrospective in character.

24. There is no dispute that procedural statutes are

generally retrospective in operation, while statutes that are

substantive are prospective in their application unless by express

stipulation or by necessary intendment, the provisions provide

for otherwise. In the quest to ascertain whether Section 357A(4)

Cr.P.C applies to offences that occurred prior to 31.12.2009, it is

necessary to identify whether the provision is substantive or

procedural.

25. Substantive law is that part of the law, which creates,

defines, and regulate the rights, duties and powers of parties,

while procedural law, as the name itself indicates, relates to that

part of the law, which prescribes procedures and methods for

enforcing rights and duties and for obtaining redress. In simpler

terms, when substantive law creates, defines or regulate rights,

the procedural law creates the method for enforcing or having

redressal for the rights so created. In the celebrated work by

Salmond on ‘Jurisprudence’ (12th Edition, South Asian Edition,

2016), it is stated as follows: “the law of procedure may be

defined as that branch of the law which governs the process of

litigation. It is the law of actions - using the term action in a wide

sense to include all legal proceedings civil or criminal. All the

residue is substantive law, and relates, not to the process of

litigation, but to its purposes and subject matter. Substantive law

is concerned with the ends which the administration of justice

seeks; procedural law deals with the means and instruments by

which those ends are to be attained. The latter regulate the

conduct and relations of courts and litigants in respect of the

litigation itself; the former determines the conduct and relations

in respect of the matters litigated.” In Ramanatha Aiyer’s

Advanced Law Lexicon 4th Edition (2013), substantive law is

stated to be that part of a law that creates, defines, and

regulates the rights, duties, and powers of parties. The Supreme

Court has approved the aforesaid propositions on substantive

law, as can be seen from the decision in Executive Engineer,

Dhenkanal Minor Irrigation Division, Orissa and Others v.

N.C Budharaj and Others [(2001) 2 SCC 721] wherein it was

held that “substantive law is that part of law, which creates,

defines and regulates rights in contrast to what is called

adjective or remedial law which provides a method of enforcing

rights”.

26. A reading of Sections 357A(1)(4)&(5) Cr.P.C., will make it

explicit that the said sub-clauses create a right upon the victim

to obtain an award of compensation on satisfying the conditions

stipulated therein. There was no statutory provision akin to

Section 357A(4) Cr.P.C., earlier. There was neither any remedy

available to a victim to claim compensation against the State

nor was there any obligation for the State to pay compensation

towards a victim, especially when the accused had not been

identified or traced and the trial had not taken place. This court is

mindful of the occasions when the High Courts and Supreme

Court have ordered payment of compensation to victims. As

rightly pointed out by Adv.Vinod, the learned Government

Pleader, those were all instances in which the facts warranted

such a grant of compensation since the crimes were either on

account of State action or inaction. Section 357A(1)(4)&(5)

Cr.P.C., has thus created a right upon a victim in cases where the

offender is not traced or identified and the trial has not taken

place, to obtain compensation, from the State Government for

the rehabilitation of the victim. It has created and defined rights

for a victim, and a duty upon the State Government to pay

compensation. Thus Section 357A(1)(4)&(5) Cr.P.C., is a

substantive law and not procedural law.

27. As a substantive law, the aforesaid statutory provision

will have only prospective application. However, in the case of

Section 357A(1)(4)&(5) Cr.P.C., there is a difference.

Rehabilitation of the victim is the scope, purport and import of

Section 357A(4) Cr.P.C., when read along with Section 357A (1)

Cr.P.C. This is more explicit when understood in the background

of the recommendation of the 154th report of the Law

Commission of India. Rehabilitation of the victim was a remedial

measure. It remedied the weakness in the then existing

provisions for compensating the crime victims, especially to

those victims, whose perpetrators had not been traced. The

provision is remedial. Remedial statutes or provisions are also

known as welfare, beneficent or social justice oriented

legislation.

28. While interpreting a provision brought in as a remedial

measure, that too, as a means of welfare for the victims of

crimes, in which the perpetrators or offenders have not been

identified and in which trial has not taken place, the Court must

always be wary and vigilant of not defeating the welfare intended

by the legislature. In remedial provisions, as well as in welfare

legislation, the words of the statute must be construed in such a

manner that it provides the most complete remedy which the

phraseology permits. The Court must, always, in such

circumstances, interpret the words in such a manner, that the

relief contemplated by the provision, is secured and not denied

to the class intended to be benefited.

29. While interpreting Section 357A(4) Cr.P.C., this Court

cannot be oblivious of the agony stricken face of the victim and

the trauma and travails such victims have undergone, especially

when their offenders have not even been identified or traced out

or a trial conducted. The agonizing face of the victims looms

large upon this Court while considering the question raised for

decision.

30. With the aforesaid principles hovering over Section

357A(4)&(5) Cr.P.C., the provision ought to be interpreted in such

a manner that it benefits victims. If the said benefit could be

conferred without violating the principles of law, then courts

must adopt that approach. A substantive law that is remedial,

can reckon a past event for applying the law prospectively. Such

an approach does not make the substantive law retrospective in

its operation. On the other hand, it only caters to the intention of

the legislature.

31. In other words, when an application is made by a victim

of a crime that occurred prior to the coming into force of Section

357A(4) Cr.P.C., a prospective benefit is given, taking into

reckoning an antecedent fact. Adopting such an interpretation

does not make the statute or the provision retrospective in

operation. It only confers prospective benefits, in certain cases,

to even antecedent facts. The statute will remain prospective in

application but will draw life from a past event also. The rule

against retrospectivity of substantive law is not violated or

affected, merely because part of the requisites for action under

the provision is drawn from a time antecedent to its passing.

Merely because a prospective benefit under a remedial statutory

provision is measured by or dependent on antecedent facts, it

does not necessarily make the provision retrospective in

operation.

32. The above view is fortified by the decision in The

Queen v. The Inhabitants of St. Mary, Whitechapel (1848

12 QB 120) at 127, where Lord, Denman CJ stated that “a statute

is not properly called a retrospective statute because a part of

the requisites for its action is drawn from a time antecedent to


its passing”. The observations in the decision in Master Ladies

Tailors Organisation v. Minister of Labour and National

Service (1950 (2) All ER 525) are also relevant. It was held at

page 527 that “the fact that a prospective benefit is in certain

cases to be measured by or depends on antecedent facts does

not necessarily make the provision retrospective”. The above

referred, two English decisions, were relied upon by the Supreme

Court, in Sree Bank Ltd. (in liquidation) v. Sarkar Dutt Roy

& Co. (AIR 1966 SC 1953), while it was considering the

retrospective application of Section 45O of the Banking

Companies Act, 1949, (brought in by an amendment of 30-12-

1953, as per which the period spent on presenting and pursuing

a winding up petition can be excluded for determining the period

of limitation to revive a time barred debt).

33. In the judgment in Piyali Dutta v. State of West

Bengal and Others (2017 Cr.LJ 4041), the Calcutta High Court

held that Section 357A is time neutral, i.e, it does not distinguish

between victims of a crime happening before the introduction of

the section in the statute with those incidents of crime

happening post its introduction in the statute book. It was also

held that the section does not make any distinction between

victims on the basis of the time of occurrence of the crime and

also that, segregation on the basis of time, is unacceptable and

would militate against the right to equality and equal treatment

by the State guaranteed under the Constitution of India.

34.The learned Amicus Curiae, brought to my attention the

clause on limitation under the scheme framed by the Kerala

Government. Clause 9 of the scheme is extracted as below;

“9. Limitation - No claim made by the victim or his

dependent under subsection 4 of section 357A of the court

shall be entertained after a period of 180 days from the

occurrence of the crime. The District Legal Services

Authority, if satisfied, for reasons to be recorded in writing,

may condone the delay in filing the said claim”.

35. The above extracted clause on limitation prescribed

under the scheme framed by the Kerala Government is not in

tune with Section 357A(4) Cr.P.C. The said clause in the scheme,

can practically render the statutory prescription unworkable and

even defeat the provision itself. In practical parlance, there would

be numerous occasions where the investigation itself is not

completed within 180 days. Law does not stipulate a time limit

for completion of an investigation. To regard an offender as not

identified or traced, the investigation ought to be concluded. If a

limit of time of 180 days from the occurrence of crime is

stipulated for preferring an application under Section 357A(4), it

will only defeat the provision. The restriction of 180 days since

the date of occurrence of the crime for preferring applications

goes against the spirit of Section 357A(4) Cr.P.C. It is certainly

not the intention of the legislature to deny claims for

compensation from victims when the offender has not been

identified or traced within a period of 180 days. However, the

said clause does not apply in the instant case though the

aforesaid is a matter for the State to contemplate and bring in

appropriate modifications.

36. In view of the above deliberations, the following

conclusions are arrived at:

(i) The provisions in Section 357A(1)(4)&(5) Cr.P.C are

substantive in character.

(ii) The victims under Section 357A(4) of the Cr.P.C. are

entitled to claim compensation for incidents that occurred even

prior to the coming into force of the said provision.

(iii) By giving the benefit to victims under Section 357A(4)

Cr.P.C., for crimes that occurred prior to 31.12.2009, the statutory

provision is not given retrospective effect, and instead a

prospective benefit is given based on an antecedent fact.

37. Before concluding, I wish to place on record my deep

appreciation to the commendable efforts put in by Adv. Leah

Rachel Ninan and the learned Amicus Curiae Adv. Keerthivas Giri.

Both of them performed to the fullest extent and justified the

confidence reposed on them by the Court.

As a result, this writ petition is dismissed. However, in the

circumstances of the case, there will be no order as to costs.

Sd/-

BECHU KURIAN THOMAS

JUDGE


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