ROLE OF JUDICIARY IN PROTECTION OF VICTIMS RIGHTS

Article 141 of the Indian constitution says law laid down by the Supreme court is law of land. That means though the parliament is the institution where laws are made for the people but the judiciary by its interpretation clearifies the laws and interprets it for the welfare of the people.


WHO IS A VICTIM?

For the purpose of legality the term victim has been defined under section 2(wa) of the Crpc. A victim is one who has suffered due to wrong of others in strict senses. Naturally when we talk of victim it is a human being but natural things like river can also be victim according to the interpretation of the court. So clearly one who can seek remedy as a victim does not has a rigid form. So the definition of victim has wide impute to it. So if a right is denied one may be victim of governance, individual’s act, society, culture/tradition, country’s policy/law etc. If we widen our understanding of who a victim can be the role of judiciary is very important. Victim is not the only one who comes crying of foul but it can also be the one who is not conscious of the wrong.


WHY JUDICIARY IS A PANNACEA TO VICTIMS?

A victim may be reimbursed in the following two conventional methods:

Monetary fine, punishment to wrong doer or both.

As a rule the victim should himself come to court to seek justice but now due to judicial activism the court allowed a person to initiate court proceedings on another’s behalf who is not in a position to raise his voice. The court sometimes does not waits for a vigilant society person to come and initiate the proceedings, it suo moto takes cognizance and performs its duty of serving the destitutes. Judiciary is the most trusted institution of the nation and when nobody listen’s to the righteous demands of the the citizen the people look upto the courts of the nation.


THE JUDGEMENTS OF IMPORTANCE

There is a catena of judgements that have empowered the citizens of the nation lets us have a tour through some of the landmark judgements. The basic structure doctrine case which made it a law that though parliament is free to make any law it is not allowed to change the root of the constitution i.e not tickle with fundamental rights; The Maneka Gandhi case which has strengthened the rights of a common man; S. Selvi case which upheld the right to be silent in criminal trial against self, Vishaka judgement that formulated detailed guidelines for protection of women at workplace even when there was no law, strengthening right to health by the judgement which said economic conditions must not be a constraint in the path of the people to avail health facilities[1]. Right to be arrested with information, right to seek legal help, right to legal aid, decriminalisation of homesexuality, the right of property to women, right to privacy (K. puttuswamy judgement), are all beautiful rights that have been bestowed to the people by judiciary along with many other landmark judgements.


ROLE OF JUDICIARY DURING COVID-19 PANDEMIC

If we talk in context of peculiar condition presented by covid 19 then we have both examples of how judiciary upheld many rights and while at some places it missed its chance of protecting rights of the people. The court upheld that dignity should be bestowed to even a departed soul and that respect to mortal remains of a person cannot be compromised even during a pandemic[2]; the court did not allowed changes in the garb of pandemic and upheld the rights of the labour and saved them from exploiting situations of future[3]; in Dinavahi Lakshmi Kameswari V State of Andhra Pradesh and Ors the issue was whether government can cut down pension in the name of increased expenditure during pandemic and the court said pension is property under article 300A and that it is important for a dignified life after retirement; in a case a pregnant women died because she could not get admission despite running to various hospitals, the court reiterated that the women was denied her fundamental right of getting emergency medical treatment and pandemic is not any exception and clear violation of Parmanand Kataria judgement[4]; a decision regarding release of prisoners in the over crowded jails of India was made under a high powered committee so that health of prisoners is not compromised with[5]. While the courts failed to curb loss of life by the elections and it failed to curtail economic burden on people due hefty school and hospital fee.


SETBACKS

Though our judiciary is the front runner in upholding the right of the people but it has missed many chances of upholding the rights of its citizen:

During the pandemic the education of level of children was halted but despite that the courts failed to pull the rein of profiteering schools[6]. Also it could not save the citizens from unreasonable prices of health facility in private hospital on the contrary it differentiated between covid and non covid diseases[7]. The apathy of under trials who loose their precious life in the jails sometimes for no crime, murder of justice takes place which cannot be explained from the lens of the person who actually loose it. The long life of cases which can also go to even half a century is a tragedy and it is happening even today. High cost of getting justice and its inability to connect to common man is another factor that makes it an unfair leisure for many. The influence of political affinity at every level of judiciary is a concern and very evident.

Bhopal Gas leak case-in this case the focus was only on compensation and not on the fact that such tragedies must not repeat. The court firstly shied away from this case saying that it was not under its jurisdiction and then the American courts told our apex court that its there right to decide for their own people, this case is really a blot on the judiciary because justice has not been served even after years of the black tragedy. Also at times the system fails the victim by making him/her run from pillar to post for getting the justice enforced. We are also evident of a scenario whereby a whistle-blower becomes victim of the ineffective governance of nation/judiciary for not being able to protect him.


CONCLUSION

The very important institution needs some important change like a system of recruiting judges/ prosecution officers/ judicial officers through a common recruitment process at all India level. The upgradation of all courts in the country with modern technological advancements, adequate supporting staff and infrastructure. A need for specialised and inclusive (experts of field) benches of courts are needed and jury system can be given a chance again in some fields of work of judiciary. It also needs follow up its judgement otherwise the real justice is sometimes though available in judgements but not in reality. Judiciary is as revered as it was before but off lately some stains are diminishing its sheen which it needs to remove at earliest.

[1] UOI v. Mool Chand Khairati Ram Trust [2] Vineet Ruia v. Principal Secretary, Ministry of Health & Family Welfare, Govt. Of West Bengal [3] Gujraat Mazdoor Sabha v State of Gujarat [4] K. Kumar v State of Manipur [5] National Alliance for People's Movements V The State of Maharashtra [6] Indian School, Jodhpur V State of Rajasthan [7] Hospital’s Association, Nagpur v. Government of Maharashtra



This article is written by Poonam Maurya, postgraduate from Amity University.

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