The circumstances under which the committee headed by Judge Verma was appointed were rather horrific. News of the Delhi gang rape had made international headlines and a three-member committee was formed by the Union government to recommend changes to the criminal law. But it was the Justice Verma committee report that ultimately caused a small legal loophole that the Malimath committee could not.
The Criminal Law (Amendment) Act, 2013, in line with some of the recommendations of the Verma Committee, was enacted in April 2013.
“Although the recommendations made by the Malimath and Verma committees have only been partially implemented and do not address victims’ rights in criminal trials, Malimath’s journey to Verma has been torturous and worth noting for future directions and requests for future changes. within the existing legal provisions,” Umanath said.
It was not until 2009 that the definition of “victim” was included in the Code of Criminal Procedure. He said a “victim” was someone who suffered loss or harm caused by an act or omission of which the defendant was charged. The term “victim” also includes their legal guardian or heir.
In the inquisitorial model, the accused would be questioned and the judge would get to the merits of the case. But here, the accused has the right to remain silent, and in cases similar to these, men often end up tainting the victim impact statement and creating “reasonable doubt.” If the accused manages to sow doubt in the mind of the judge, the adversarial model cannot incriminate him.
In rape cases, the accused often ends up challenging the case through ambiguous moral standards by which society holds women unequally accountable.
Free legal services for victims are difficult to access. If they succeed in obtaining them, they are only valid at the time of the trial and not from the time of the alleged crime. Until as recently as 2008, the victim had no legal right to object to an acquittal, challenge a bail plea by the accused, or challenge the insufficiency of a sentence.
In most cases, the victim is not even aware of the judgments or orders rendered in their case, and there is no obligation in the law to keep them informed.
However, the accused has the constitutional right to counsel at all stages of the investigation. The victim ends up facing problems at every step of their nearly impossible attempt to seek justice. The police are notorious for harassment (and even sexual assault), among other ills, such as the victim’s refusal to file a formal complaint.